OMAHA — It appears the most recent girls basketball state title for Wynot was the most noticeable one.
Despite having to compete against all the heavyweights in and around the Omaha and Lincoln areas, Steve Wieseler finally ranks among the elite regardless of school or program size.
Following last winter’s Class D2 state title win over Humphrey St. Francis, Wieseler was tabbed as The Omaha World-Herald’s Nebraska High School Girls Coach of the Year.
“Honestly, it’s one of those things, I don’t think a lot about that individual stuff,” Wieseler said. “I am sure one day I will look back and reflect on it and it will be pretty wild. It’s a nice acknowledgement. It’s not my driving force, but I am very appreciative of it. Someday, I will look back and appreciate it even more.
“It is a nice representation for small schools,” Wieseler said.
Wieseler said he believes he has won other such recognition, but couldn’t recall any of them specifically, but he knows this was the first time he had been recognized by The World-Herald.
It was the eighth crown for the Lady Blue Devils during Wieseler’s 21 years in charge. Wieseler’s teams have advanced to the state title game 12 times, putting together an 8-4 mark over the years.
This one was a little special knowing that his girls had been beaten by St. Francis earlier in the season.
The veteran defending champions turned a 66-50 defeat into a 58-51 win a few months later in the state’s biggest game of the year, to finish 22-4.
Pretty impressive considering St. Francis boasts University of Nebraska recruit Allison Weidner.
“I think’s it’s about the competition we had and who we beat in the championship game,” Wieseler said. “Going up against them and having a Division I recruit, that kind of made that whole game an amazing accomplishment for the program. She gets a lot of hype and is a great kid and great player. She will be great at UNL.
“You always want to peak at the right time.”
It’s a long way from Wieseler’s early days when he took over the Wynot program in 1999. It took five years just to get to the playoffs for the first time.
Now, the program is a state steady and a buzz saw at the elite level.
“I remember it was just baby steps,” he said. “Our first obstacle was to just get to state. You then just build on that and we got on a little roll there and it gets contagious. We put a lot on our senior girls and their leadership, on and off the court.”
The program is built on the backbone of a strong defense and that’s what the Wynot alum set to doing when he took his first coaching job after studying at Wayne State.
Wieseler said that even during the COVID-19 pandemic he has seen his players carry on and go back to the grind, even if their season could get wiped out in the winter.
“It definitely puts things in perspective as far as not taking anything for granted,” he said. “The kids came to the weight room when volleyball opened up and basketball is open now. I have seen an amazing rejuvenation with the girls in our school. They are willing to put in the time and get in the gym to work out.
“The kids understand that sports are not a privilege. They are going to work hard no matter what and if it doesn’t work out, they are still going to come in and work out. I don’t think it’s going to change anything.”