SYRACUSE – Two individuals and a state championship basketball team will be the first members in the Syracuse High School Hall of Fame.
Officials announced the inaugural class on Monday, which will include former football, basketball and track & field athlete Lyle Nannen, former cross country and track coach Rich Ziegler, and the 1953-1954 unbeaten state champion basketball team.
The first hall of fame class will be inducted during a ceremony at halftime of the boys varsity basketball game against Milford on Friday, Feb. 16. The public is encourage to attend.
The Syracuse Hall of Fame was inaugurated late last year by S-Club members. It funded through a generous donation from the Athletic Booster Club. The hall of fame was formed to recognize those who laid the solid foundation on which our athletic department has been built, as well as those who continue to uphold the traditions and pride of Syracuse Athletics.
Lyle excelled in football, basketball and track. Lyle was a four-year letterman in
football and basketball and would have been in track had it not been for a knee injury in
the last basketball game his senior year. He was selected All-Conference for three
years and Class C All-State his senior year. If one sport had to be picked as his best, it
would have to be basketball. Syracuse lost only seven games during his career and
was the undefeated state champions his senior year. He earned All-State honors in
1952, ’53, ’54, and All-Class All-State in ’54. Other honors include being chosen one of
the top five players in ’53 and ’54 by the Lincoln Journal-Star and the Omaha WorldHerald
and the All-State-Tournament Team by the Hastings Daily Tribune. The Lincoln
Journal-Star selected him as the Athlete of the Year in 1954. In 1953 Lyle added more
hardware to his collection by winning the Class C high hurdle race at the state track
meet and placing second in the low hurdles. He attended college at UN-L, lettering in
basketball three years.
Coach Richard Ziegler had his hands in nearly every sport throughout his tenure at Syracuse High School, but he left a lasting mark on the Rocket cross country team. The beloved mentor and coach spent 35 years at the helm of the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams. In that time, Ziegler led his boys team to Class C state championships in 2004 and 2005 and celebrated a Class B individual state champion with his daughter Maryann Ziegler in 1984. Ziegler’s teams were a force to be reckoned with, racking up numerous conference and district championships. Ziegler’s coaching success was not limited to cross country. For track, he coached the boys and girls distance runners. In 1985, when the girls team won the Class B State Track & Field Championships, distance runners were responsible for 3 gold medals in the 800 m run, 1600 meter run and 4×800 meter relay. The 4×800 meter relay took home the Class B and All-State golds in 1987. Ziegler was named the Nebraska Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year for 2004-2005 and received the Nebraska Coaches Association’s State Champion Award in 2005 and 2006.
1953-1954 Syracuse Rockets basketball team
The 1953-1954 Syracuse Rockets basketball team was based on an outstanding
defense. The defense was one of denial: denial of the pass, denial of the rebound, and
lastly, denial of the shot. The Rockets’ defense played a very big part in decisive wins over Omaha Holy Name, Table Rock, and most importantly the state final win against Franklin.
Because of their aggressive style of play, the team also had to be concerned about the number of fouls assessed against them. (In the 1950’s, a foul occurred when a player
simply touched their opponent.) This played a critical role in some games. The Rockets were led by all-state player Lyle Nannen whose play was complemented by his teammates. Lyle also complemented the play of his teammates, bringing together one of the best teamwork-based teams of the century. The 1953-1954 Syracuse Rockets were one of the most outstanding teams to play in the State of Nebraska. They were also inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. Team Members: Student Manager-Mickey Antes, Coach: Joe Moss, Gale Cameron, Gary Dahmke, Harry Earl, Ray Ehlers, Don Johnson, Dick Nannen, Lyle Nannen, Bud Schwab, Robert Strong, and John Truscott.