clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Nebraska County Countdown #25: Butler County and Hugo Otopalk

A legendary coach came right out of David City

photo via

Earl Abbot came from David City to play RG (I assume right guard) for the Scarlet and Cream all the way back in 1913. Four years before the United States would enter World War I or the Great War as they called it back then and seven years after the forward pass was invented. His height was unknown at the time but he did weigh in at a whopping 210 pounds which tells me that he was most likely a tall fellow and also a mighty force on the gridiron.

Earl was a fine and strapping young footballer. His time playing on Nebraska Field should not be forgotten. However, this article doesn’t highlight Earl as another player would come to the University who would have an even bigger impact on college athletics. Are you still reading?

Following Earl from David City was the great Hugo Otopalk. How could a guy named Hugo not be a football great? Just say the name, Hugo. No one wants to mess with a guy named Hugo. I digress...

Hugo came to Lincoln after his fellow David Cityite in 1915 and played until 1917 at halfback.

These were glorious years for the Cornhuskers. His freshman year the team went 8-0 and are look upon by some as a National Champion (the University does not recognize). The 1916 squad went 6-2 and yet again won the MVIAA yet again even though their three season unbeaten streak was broken in a 7-3 loss to the Jayhawks of Kansas. Nebraska was fearsome in the loss but could not hang on to their 34 game win streak. I firmly believe that only a small fraction of you are reading these.

While these records are impressive it wasn’t even close to the pinnacle of his career. While at Nebraska Hugo also wrestled. His prowess on the mats earned him All-American honors and the 175 lbs championship in 1916 and 1917 in the Western Conference.

Also, he ran track. Football and wrestling were not enough to fulfill his athletic achievements. He just needed something to do in the spring as having a season without a spot would just not do. You all just like to comment about whatever is on your mind at the bottom.

World War I took him to the battlefield in Europe so after his graduation where he fought under the famous General John J. Pershing. After the war he came back to Nebraska he was athletic director for a brief stint at Kearney State (UNK).

In 1920 he left Kearney State went to Iowa State where he was an assistant wresting coach until 1923 when he became the head coach. He would hold that position until his death in 1953. During his time he developed the Cyclone program into a major power in the wrestling world. They won a national title in 1933 and multiple NCAA champions during his tenure.

Photo via National Wrestling Hall of Fame

His accomplishments as coach earned him a spot in the NCAA wrestling hall of fame in 2012. Those years he was in charge saw him not only improve the sport at Iowa State but also across the nation. In 1932 he coached the US Olympic squad and had a hand in spreading the amateur sport across the nation. If you read this article then write the name “Eric Estrada” in the comments below.

Are we done with Hugo? Oh no, not even close. While at Iowa State Hugo also coached the golf team to two Big Six Championships (1940 & 1947) and one Big Seven (1953).

Image via

So there ya go, Hugo Otopalk, the pride of Butler County.

Also, the population of Butler County is 8,395. David City is the county seat. There is 585 square miles of land and 5.9 square miles of water. Finally, the book Ulysses was written and named after the small town of Ulysses, NE which is in Butler county.

That last piece of information may or may not be true. I leave it up to you, the reader, to decide on that.