Benkelman great goes into Hall of Fame
LINCOLN, Neb. — All-class gold Benkelman High athlete Danis (Richards) Willet was recently inducted into Nebraska’s High School of Fame.
Willet joined other greats like Cambridge High’s Christina (Houghtelling) Hudson and Kansas City Royal World Series champ Alex Gordon (Lincoln Southeas).
From 1972-75, Willet blazed around Nebraska tracks to four consecutive Class C state championships in the 440-meter dash.
She also won all-class gold during the 1974 and 1975 seasons while setting Benkelman’s school record time of 57.3 seconds.
As most area fans know, Benkelman has now become part of the Dundy County-Stratton school district.
Willet didn’t stop excelling with just one event. As a senior, she won the Class C 880-yard title while taking third in the 220. She was also part of a Benkelman team that placed among Class C’s three fastest.
Overall, Willet won 15 state medals during her Benkelman High track career.
She went on to Kearney State College — now University of Nebraska-Kearney — where Willet became one of the nation’s top 25 400-meter runners.
Willet made history as the first Nebraska female to run 400 meters in less than 55 seconds at 54.6.
She was inducted into the UNK Athlete Hall of Fame in 1992.
Willett went on to Masters All-American status in he 100, 200 and 400 meters. She won the TAC/USA Track and Field Women’s 30-34 age group award in 1991.
She has now started her 15th year of coaching/teaching at Malcolm High School after working previously at Lincoln Northeast, North Platte St. Patrick’s, Stromsburg and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Willet was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 23.