It was a special night at Western Nebraska Community College as two deserving inductees were inducted into the WNCC Athletic Hall of Fame Friday evening before the WNCC and Otero Cougar game.

                Bernard Garner, who played at WNCC with NBA great Bobby Jackson and was an NJCAA Player of the Year, was inducted while his family was in attendance.

                The other inductees were Neal and Lora Blomenkamp/Runza as a distinguished supporter of Cougar athletics for nearly 30 years.

                Garner was thrilled for the honor and very appreciative of his time at WNCC.

                “This is a great honor to be inducted to the Hall of Fame here at WNCC,” Garner said Friday afternoon. “It lets me know the college appreciated the things I did for the school and what they did for me. It feels great,”

                His time at WNCC meant a lot to him as it was a home-away-from-home. Garner is from Many, Louisiana, and was recruited over the semester break by Dave “Soupy” Campbell. Campbell was in attendance Friday at Cougar Palace.

                “It was a learning experience when I first came here,” Garner said. “But as I adapted to the community and met some good people here in this community, worked with Coach Campbell and my teammates, it was a good success.”

                Garner left WNCC in 1995 after becoming the career scoring leader with 1,304 points. It is a record that still stands today. He was the NJCAA Player of the Year. Garner then went on to play two years at Nebraska where he helped the Huskers to an NIT title and earned a nod on the Big-12 All-Bench team.

                The Blomenkamps started donated to WNCC in 1993 after Neal attended a Cougar game in 1992 and loved the family atmosphere the Cougars brought to the town. After that, they were the sponsors of the game tickets and still are. They also provided many other donations to the college such as a new volleyball net, support for the Cougar golf classic, and different promotions through the years.

                Neal and Lora Blomenkamp were unable to be in attendance, their oldest son Spencer said this means a lot to the Blomenkamp family and Runza.

                “For me personally, WNCC has been a big part of our life,” Spencer said. We spent a lot of years here as young kids. I was a ball boy for a lot of years and traveled with the team. For me, I guess, it was I always wanted to be a college athlete. I think that was a big start for me seeing them play and having so much fun.”

                Brooke (Blomenkamp) Samuelson said for her it shows what the college means to the community.

                “I would echo what he said,” Brooke (Blomenkamp) Samuelson said. “Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a Cougar volleyball player. I never wanted to do anything else and that is what I wanted to be when I grew up and I got the opportunity and played here (in 2008 and 2009). That was secondary and I am honored that we have been able to support this community and college because it (WNCC) does wonderful things for our community, these athletes, and these students. It is a great honor to be inducted tonight.”

                The Athletic Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies will happen every five years. The next induction will occur in 2027. Nomination sheets and information will be available in the near future.