The lane assignments have finally been completed “Who is the Fastest Nebraska Schoolboy in History Dream Race”. A project that brings together long hours of research and personal recollections, bringing together the greatest sprinters of all time.
Here is the criteria that I have chosen to formulate this Dream Race, the things track fans must take in consideration when reading these articles.
*Track configuration and lane assignments:
The qualifying heats and Final race will take place on an Olympic style/professional track setup, a nine lane facility. Here is the standard way of seeding a race on a nine lane track:
Fastest competitor will be in Lane 6, next fastest in 5, next fastest in 7, then 4, then 8, then 3, then 9, then 2 and finally Lane 1.
The lane assignments were not solely determined on All-Time Charts. There’s more to it than that. State track performance, competition, and all-around athleticism all come in to play here.
*How the lane assignments/outcomes of these races are determined:
1. All competitors will be considered to be in the prime of their high school careers.
2. State Track Meet Performances play a big role on the lane assignments, overall performances and the ability to stand up under the pressure of the Big Meet.
The real men are separated from the boys at the State Track Meet.
3. Head to head competition will be considered if applicable (aka Ockerman/Yank)
4. How these superior athletes performed after high school has some bearing on the outcome of these races, but the majority of considerations come from high school performances
*Here are some other factors I considered in formulating this Dream Race and the heats leading up to it:
*The old adage “either you’re fast or you’re not” has more merit than one might think. Natural speed (sprinter or short race speed) is a God-given gift, so when you bring back the great sprinters from years gone by to compete against the modern day track stars, this should be considered.
At the prep level there are some methods (weight room, nutrition etc) that may enhance that “born-with” raw speed, but once again, either you’re fast or you’re not, period.
*There will be obvious questions surrounding this Dream Race and many will focus on names omitted from the original four qualifying heats.
For instance, “why is Gale Sayers not in this competition? Here is an answer from a former coach close to Omaha metro track in that day, “Gale didn’t run sprints. Arden Gunn and Victor Breakfield were Central’s sprinters and faster than Sayers. Gale was long jumper and ran on relay team with two sprinters.” Good enough for me.
You may also want to consider that some sprinters are better suited for the 200 (made the All-Time charts in the 200/220) and simply cannot get the jets rolling in the 100. Conversely, there are 100 meter (dash) guys that either cannot run the curve or simply run out of gas in the two 200. It’s the sprinters that can handle both in record setting time that are the real superstars on the track.
Finally, the track competitors in this era generally are bigger, stronger, have access to weight facilities, better training routines and run on finer tracks and wear better shoes.
BUT, you can’t tell me that guys like Ahman Green, Calvin Jones, Kent McCloughan or Bobby Williams were not strong. There dudes were freakish athletes, men among boys and were just naturally gifted. Could they compete in this day and age? Oh yeah.
What about the boys from the 1930’s like Omaha Central’s Paul Phillips and Eugene Littler of Mitchell? You think they could compete in today’s world? If you be a naysayer, check out how long some their sprint records withstood the test of time.
So, without further adieu, here is the lineup for Heat One and a bio on each competitor:
The Dream Race Prelims
1 Eric Meyer-Logan View - (competed 2003-2006)
2. Mike Kenney-Bassett - (competed 1971=1974)
3. Ricky Davis-Creighton Prep - (competed 1985-1987)
4. Roger Sayers-Omaha Central - (competed 1958-1959)
5. Willie Vinson-Omaha Burke - (competed 1980-1982)
6. Kenzo Cotton-Papillion LaVista - (competed 2016-2019)
7. Scott Yank-Lincoln Southeast - (competed 1979-1981)
8. Dusty Stamer-Grand Island - (competed 1998-2000)
9. Nate Probasco-Scribner-Snyder - (competed 2000-2003)
*Eric Meyer-Logan View - (competed 2003-2006) - Ran not just one, but a pair of :10.4 hundred meter races, one as a sophomore, one as a junior. Placed in the Class B 100 meter dash four straight years at the stat track meet, concluding his illustrious career with a slam of the 100/200 in 2006.
Meyer also rushed for 1,137 yards his senior season at Logan View.
*Mike Kenney-Bassett - (competed 1971-1974) - A wind aided :09.6 hundred yard dash at the 1974 State Track Meet earned the Class C flyer the All-Class Gold in that event and also a spot in this Dream Field.
Mike Kenney also won the Class C 220 that year. As a junior, the Bassett star was nipped at the finish by Burwell' Paul Anderson in the hundred and ran third in the 220.
Kenny was also a thousand yard rusher for the Basset Tigers in 1973, running for a even 1000 yards.
*Ricky Davis-Creighton Prep - (competed 1985-1987) - One of the greatest Creighton Prep track athletes of all time. Davis still holds the school record in the 100 meter dash at :10.60 and held the 200 meters record of :21.83 until Shannon Brewer broke it by a hundredth of a second in 2017.
Rick Davis helped lead Creighton Prep to a state track championship in 1987, winning the Gold Medal in the 100 (:10.60), 200 (:21.83).
He also anchored the winning 400 meter relay (:42.33) and ran third leg on Creighton Prep’s Class A champion 1,600 meter relay in a time of 3:21.80.
Davis was not a one-year track wonder either. Ricky’s junior year he grabbed a 3rd in the 100 and 6th in the 200. As a sophomore in the brutal Class A sprints, Davis placed 4th in the 100 meter dash.
Rick Davis…..as good as it gets in the annuls of Creighton Prep Track and Field. *(By the way, Davis teammate all the way through high school was two-time 1000 yard rusher/track star, George Achola).
*Roger Sayers-Omaha Central - (competed 1958-1959) - Roger “The Rocket” Sayers, older brother of the legendary Gale Sayers, slammed the Class A 100 and 220 yard dashes as a junior in 1958, earning both All-Class Golds in :09.8 and :21.7, besting Scottsbluff’s great Ray Knaub in both races.
Sayers earned another gold in the 220 and the 880 Relay as a senior in ‘59, but lost a disputed finish call in the hundred when the four finish judges were split 2-2 as far as first and second place was concerned. The lead timer finally broke the deadlock.
Roger The Rocket really made a name for himself at Omaha University where he was a football and track star all four seasons for the Mavs and that may be an understatement.
All Roger Sayers did to kick off his collegiate track and field career was win 28 consecutive races as a freshman in 1961. In 1962, he won the national NAIA 100-yard dash, beating world record holder Bob Hayes. You read that right.
In 1963, he repeated his NAIA triumph and was also named to the U.S. team that competed against the Russians in Poland. Roger Sayers holds the UNO record in the 100-yard dash at 9.4 seconds, and the 220-yard dash at 20.7 seconds. He was also a member of two record setting relay teams.
In 1970, Mr. Sayers was elected to the NAIA Track Hall of Fame.
During his football career, he gained over 1,500 yards rushing, averaging almost 10 yards per carry. At one time, Sayers touched the ball just 14 times and scored seven touchdowns. He still holds seven UNO football records.
*Willie Vinson-Omaha Burke - (competed 1980-1982) - If there ever was “thee” perfect race designed for Willie Vinson, it had to be the 100 meter dash.
In fact, the Burke sprint ace led the 100 meter charts as a sophomore going into the 1980 state meet with his :10.6 clocking. Vinson however, would do no better than a 6th place finish in the finals of the state meet, perhaps overwhelmed by the magnificence of the surroundings .
Willie chased Mike Ockerman his junior season, but was still good enough to grab a 2nd place in :10.89, trailing Ockerman’s sizzling :10.60. The next year…..no Ockerman and Vinson crushed the 100 meter field, taking the Gold in a rapid :10.56. The Bulldog senior also took the Gold in the 200 meter dash.
Vinson’s fastest career sprint times ended up reading :10.5 and a :21.7.
As a sidenote, three years ago at the age of 54, Willie Vinson took part in a race entitled “Trek Up the Tower”. The participants, who were raising awareness for Wellcom, a non-profit organization that helped employers create and support wellness for their employees.
All Willie had to do was climb all 872 stairs of Omaha’s tallest building, the 40 floor First National Building. When things got tough on the 18th floor, all Vinson had to do was think of his late track coach, Merlin “Beanie” Lawrence, who had passed away a few days earlier at the age of 76.
You see, Vinson’s knee buckled on that 18th floor, about 392 steps up, but the memory of his coaches words “you can do anything you put your mind to” carried Willie the remainder of the way to the top.
Still a Champion at the age of 54. Willie Vinson.
*Kenzo Cotton-Papillion LaVista (competed 2011-2014) - Blazed to the fastest electronically recorded 100 meters time ever in Nebraska. The Papio Flyer’s :10.403 hundred meters time at the 2012 state track meet still stands alone atop the all-time charts.
Eight-time State Champion, Two-time Nebraska Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year, Kenzo Cotton held three state records when he graduated (100, 200, 400 relay), He recipient of six All-Class Gold Medals , was undefeated in the 100 and 200 meters in his last two seasons, and was a member of the Adidas Dream 100 in 2013 and also competed at the 2013 Youth World Championships in Ukraine.
Kenzo Cotton ended up with high school bests of :10.403 in the hundred meters and :21.3 in the 200.
The Papio star then went on to complete a storied career at Arkansas where he competed with world class track and field athletes week in and week out in the rugged Southeast Conference. Kenzo was also a 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in both the 100 and 200.
*Scott Yank-Lincoln Southeast - (competed 1979-1981) Sprinted to career bests of :10.3 and :21.1 and was on top of the charts for most of his senior year in 1981 and near the top all of his junior campaign. But, as quick as the Scott Yank’s regular season times were, the best he could get at the state track meet was a 2nd place finish in the 200 his junior season.
Does this mean Scott Yank just quite couldn’t get it done when the stakes were the highest? No Sir. It merely demonstrates the complexity of the sport of track and field. A big factor was Yank was always chasing Bellevue West’s Mike Ockerman.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Scott Yank wasn’t a truly great sprinter and one of the best Clock don’t lie.
*Dusty Stamer-Grand Island - (competed 1998-2000) - Exploded onto the Nebraska high school Track scene his junior season when he pulled off a Gold Medal :10.7 hundred meters time at the state track meet. Dusty started dead last out of Lane 7 in that 1999 Class A hundred meter final, edging out Omaha Central’s Brandon Williams by a hundredth of a second for the win.
A year later, Stamer slammed the 100 and 200 meter races at state his senior season, winning an All-Class Gold in the 100 in :10.6. Stamer also anchored the Islanders Gold Medal winning 4 x1 Relay (:41.91).
Stamer rushed for 1,284 yards his senior season for the Islanders and put on one of the most spectacular rushing performances in the 2000 Shrine Bowl when he tore up an all-star defense for 185 yards on 18 carries with TD runs of 4, 38 and 2 yards.
Who in the world averages 10 yards a pop in the Shrine Bowl? Grand Island’s Dusty Stamer, that’s who.
After career high school bests of :10.6 and :22.1, Dusty Stamer ended up playing one year of football for the Huskers in 2003 before bursting onto the Nebraska track and field scene in 2004, earning NCAA All-America honors and qualifying for both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships while running for the Huskers.
Dusty ended his brief, one year track career at Nebraska with a best hundred meters clocking of a spectacular :10.24. Stamer also blazed to a :10.21 wind aided 100 meters that year.
There may have been sprinters much quicker than Dusty Stamer in the 200, but not many could match his 60 or 100 meter times throughout the nation in 2004.
*Nate Probasco-Scribner-Snyder - (competed 2000-2003) - Absolute STUD. Swept the Class C sprint golds in the year 2000, then the Class D golds in the 100 and 200 in 2001. Nate Probasco’s bests of :10.80 and :21.0 in high school were just the tip of the iceberg for this jet-propelled future Husker sprint sensation.
Nate Probasco ended up being a three time Track All-American at Nebraska with Indoor bests of :20.93 in the 200 and :47.88 in the 400. Moved Outdoors and zipped to career bests of :10.49 in the hundred meters and a remarkable :20.49w in the 200.
Won the Big 12 two hundred meter dash as a junior and concluded his colligate career with three Husker records when it was all said and done. Was also a linebacker on the Husker football team in 2003, but ended up giving up football to concentrate on track.
At last check, Dr. Nate Probasco was an Assistant Professor of History and Honors Program Director at Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa.
*Up next: Heat Two with bios