ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos owner who transformed the team from also-rans into NFL champions and helped the league usher in billion-dollar television deals, died late Thursday night, just under two months before his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 75.
In a statement posted on the Broncos' website, Bowlen's family said he died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones. They did not specify a cause of death. Bowlen had battled Alzheimer's for several years.
Bowlen was the first owner in NFL history to oversee a team that won 300 games — including playoffs — in three decades. He had as many Super Bowl appearances (seven) as losing seasons, and Denver is 354-240-1 since he bought the club in 1984.
Under his stewardship, the Broncos won Super Bowls in 1998, '99 and 2016.
Following their 31-24 victory over Green Bay for the franchise's first championship, Bowlen famously hollered, "This one's for John!" Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway called it the greatest moment of his playing career.
Elway the executive returned the favor on Feb. 7, 2016, when he jabbed the silver Lombardi Trophy into the sky after Denver's 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50 and declared, "This one's for Pat."
That came 18 months after Alzheimer's forced Bowlen to step down from his daily duties running the team.
"I'm just glad I had the opportunity," Elway told The Associated Press in the victorious locker room that night. "I didn't want to think about it too much because I didn't want to jinx anything. But I was waiting for the day that I was able to do that. So, I was glad and really thrilled that I was able to do that and we'll take that trophy over to Pat next week and let him cherish it."
Elway delivered the prize to Bowlen's home back in Denver. And in the Mile High City, more than a million fans packed downtown for a victory parade 17 years after Elway capped his remarkable playing career by leading the Broncos to back-to-back titles.
Super Bowl 50 was the Broncos' eighth trip to the big game, seven under Bowlen's watch, and all of those with Elway's help — first as his QB and then as his GM.
Bowlen's wife, Annabel, who recently announced that she, too, is battling Alzheimer's, and their children were on hand to accept the Lombardi Trophy on his behalf in Santa Clara, California.
"His soul will live on through the Broncos, the city of Denver and all of our fans," Bowlen's family said in their statement Thursday night. "Heaven got a little bit more orange and blue tonight."
During his 35 seasons as owner, Bowlen's teams compiled a .596 winning percentage — tied for second-best in the NFL during that span. Among professional franchises in the four major North American sports, only the San Antonio Spurs, New England Patriots and Los Angeles Lakers were better, according to the Broncos.
Bowlen relished working behind the scenes and shied away from the spotlight. In the words of former coach Mike Shanahan, "Pat just wanted to be one of the guys."
"That's why I think he was so beloved by so many people, including myself," Shanahan said. "And you also knew that he would give anything to make your football team better or at least get a chance at the Super Bowl. At that time you would say every ounce that he had — I should say every penny he had — he wanted to go into giving the football team a Super Bowl. That was his No. 1 priority. That was it. It was not trying to buy different companies and trying to make more money. His goal was winning a Super Bowl."
Former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said: "Most guys would tell you that played for him or worked for him that he was not only our owner, but he was your friend."
Bowlen served as a sounding board for NFL Commissioners Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell. He was crucial to the league's growth as a member of 15 NFL committees, including co-chairing the NFL Management Council and working on network TV contracts, including the league's ground-breaking $18 billion deal in 1998.
"Pat was the driving force in establishing the championship culture of the Broncos. He was also an extraordinary leader at the league level during a key period," Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said in a statement. "With the fans, Pat felt in many ways that his team belonged to them and approached things with that in mind. There will never be another owner like Pat Bowlen."
Bowlen had a deep appreciation for his players, whether or not they were stars, and it's not unusual to see ex-Broncos watching practice.
"When I retired, Mr. B. told me I was welcome anytime at team headquarters," said Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. "He said I didn't need a pass, either: 'Your face is your credential.'"
Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes one of his seven children will one day run the team. Until then, Ellis, one of three trustees, is doing so in a "What would Pat do?" sort of way.
Although daughter Brittany is hoping to one day take over the team, the succession plan and the trustees' oversight of Bowlen's estate has been challenged in state district court in the last year by some members of the Bowlen family.
Those who worked for Bowlen remember a man who put production ahead of profits; trained tirelessly for triathlons; fostered a winning atmosphere from the lobby to the locker room; and was always quick with a compliment and sure to couch his criticism.
"Pat Bowlen was the heart and soul of the Denver Broncos," Ellis said. "Not only was Pat a Hall of Fame owner — he was a Hall of Fame person."
Bowlen flashed his competitive streak whether on the road conducting league business, on the sideline watching his team or on the StairMaster drenched in sweat.
It was evident in his dislike for Peyton Manning when the quarterback played for Indianapolis before joining the Broncos in 2012.
"I get it, and I respect that," Manning said, adding that Bowlen flew back to Denver from his offseason home in Hawaii to welcome him when he signed with the Broncos, and they were friends afterward.
"If there was a way for him to compete against what he's going through," former defensive end Alfred Williams said a couple of summers ago, "he'd beat that damn disease every time."
Bowlen is survived by his wife, Annabel, and seven children: Amie, Beth, Patrick, Johnny, Brittany, Annabel and Christianna.
Lincoln – Husker basketball fans can officially start counting down to the start of the Fred Hoiberg era, as the Nebraska men’s basketball program released its 2019-20 non-conference schedule on Wednesday.
The 11-game non-conference slate includes three games at the Cayman Islands Classic, a meeting with Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the annual in-state matchup with Creighton and a renewal of games against regional foes South Dakota State and North Dakota.
Nebraska will open the season with four straight home games before hitting the road for the Cayman Islands Classic in late November. The Huskers will officially open the Fred Hoiberg era on Tuesday, Nov. 5, when the Huskers host UC Riverside in the first meeting between the two programs. It is the earliest season-opener in school history. NU will host Doane in an exhibition game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
The Huskers continue the homestand against a pair of teams that made the postseason last year in Southern Utah (Nov. 9) and South Dakota State (Nov. 15). Southern Utah reached the second round of the CIT last season and returns three of its top four scorers. It is the first meeting between the Huskers and the Thunderbirds since 2009. South Dakota State went 24-9 last year and won the regular-season Summit League title before falling to eventual champion Texas in the NIT. The Jackrabbits made three straight NCAA appearances before the 2019 NIT trip. It is the first meeting between NU and SDSU since 2011.
The contest with Southern (Nov. 22) is part of the Cayman Islands Classic, as each of the eight teams will play one home game prior to the tournament. The field for the Cayman Islands Classic (Nov. 25-27) includes Colorado State, George Mason, Loyola (Chicago), New Mexico State, Old Dominion, South Florida and Washington State. The pairings for the bracket will be announced later this summer.
The Huskers open the month of December with road games at Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (Dec. 4) and at Creighton (Dec. 7). The Bluejays went 20-15 and reached the NIT before losing to TCU last season.
Nebraska will play two conference games ahead of final exams before returning to the court for its final two non-conference games against North Dakota (Dec. 21) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Dec. 29). The matchup with UND will be the Huskers’ first against the school since 2017 and the third meeting since the Fighting Hawks joined Division I. The Huskers will close out non-conference action against a TAMU-CC team that finished sixth in the Southland Conference last season. It will be the first meeting between the Huskers and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The 17-game home schedule at Pinnacle Bank Arena this season is highlighted by 10 Big Ten matchups, including tilts with NCAA qualifiers Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin, along with games against Indiana, Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers.
For more season ticket information or to sign up for the 2019-20 wait list, visit Huskers.com/Tickets or call the NU Ticket Office at (800) 8-BIGRED during business hours. Season tickets for the 2019-20 season begin at $136.
2019-20 Nebraska Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 30
Tuesday, Nov. 5
Saturday, Nov. 9
Friday, Nov. 15
Friday, Nov. 22
Mon.-Wed., Nov. 25-27 at Cayman Islands Classic
Wednesday, Dec. 4
Saturday, Dec. 7
Saturday, Dec. 21
Sunday, Dec. 29
Two Huskers Among Top-10 JUCO Signees
Lincoln – A pair of Husker men’s basketball signees were recognized this week, as JUCORecruiting.com released its final top-100 ranking for the class of 2019.
Cam Mack (Austin, Texas) was rated as the No. 3 JUCO player in this year’s class, while Jervay Green (Denver, Colo.) was the eighth-rated prospect by the site. Nebraska was the only program in the country with two players among the top 10 in this year’s class. The two players are also the program’s first top-10 recruits according to the JUCO site dating back to 2011.
Mack, the top-rated point guard in the class, spent last season at Salt Lake CC, averaging 19.1 points, 7.2 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game this past season. Mack, a first-team All-Region 18 honoree, ranked in the top 25 nationally in assists (fifth) and steals (24th). The 6-foot-2 guard dished out 10-or-more assists on nine occasions and had three triple-doubles in his lone season at the school. Mack shot 46 percent from the field and boasted a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Green, who was listed as the No. 2 combo guard in the country, was one of the nation’s most prolific scoring guards at Western Nebraska CC. He earned second-team NJCAA All-America honors, averaging 23.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists last season. The Region IX Co-Player of the Year, Green ranked eighth nationally in scoring while shooting 55 percent from the field, including 39 percent from 3-point range. Green’s sophomore season was highlighted by a 51-point performance against Iowa Lakes CC, one of his three 40-point games on the year.
Green and Mack highlight Nebraska’s recruiting class that begins to arrive on campus beginning next week.
Thorbjarnarson Represents Iceland
Rising junior Thorir Thorbjarnarson represented his native Iceland earlier this week, competing in the Games of the Small States of Europe. The Olympic-style competition is held for European countries with populations of under one million people.
Thorbjarnarson played in three games for Iceland’s Senior National Team during the competition, averaging 9.3 points per game, including 14 points in a loss to the hosts from Montenegro. He closed out the event with 12 points in a win over Cyprus in the fifth-place game. It is the second time that Thorbjarnarson has played in the tournament, as he made his national team debut in the event in 2017.
Last season, Thorbjarnarson played in 25 games, including seven starts, to help the Huskers to a 19-17 record. He averaged 2.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game, as Nebraska reached its second straight NIT. He moved in the starting lineup during the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament and NIT games, and had eight points, three rebounds and three assists in the Huskers’ second-round NIT loss to TCU.
Husker Basketball Camps Begin Next Week
The first session of the Fred Hoiberg Basketball Camps begins next Monday, June 10, at the Hendricks Training Complex.
The 2019 camp series will feature two four-day camps, as well a pair of specialty clinics for boys and girls entering the 3rd-12th grade. In addition, there will also be a three-day Little Husker camp for kids who are in grades K-4 for the upcoming year. Hoiberg and his staff of instructors will work with campers on the fundamentals of basketball in a fun atmosphere. All camps are open to both boys and girls entering the respective grade level.
For more information, camp information, pricing and to register for the 2019 camps, email fredhoibergbasketballcamps@
Lincoln – For the second straight year, Nebraska will be on the road for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, as the Huskers will travel to Atlanta, Ga., for a matchup with Georgia Tech. The game at McCamish Pavilion will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The start time and television information will be announced at a later date. All 14 games are carried on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU) and available on the ESPN App.
This will be only the second-ever matchup between the Huskers and Yellow Jackets, as the teams have not played since a 66-49 win by Georgia Tech on Dec. 28, 1983.
The Huskers have played well on the road in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, posting a 3-1 mark following a 68-66 win at Clemson last season. NU also posted road wins at Wake Forest (2012) and at Florida State (2014).
Georgia Tech returns its top three scorers for Coach Josh Pastner, who begins his fourth season at the school. Georgia Tech went 14-18 last year and placed 10th in the ACC with a 6-12 conference mark. Junior guard Jose Alvarado led the Yellow Jackets in scoring (12.5 ppg), assists (3.4 pg) and steals (1.8 spg) last season, while senior forward James Banks III chipped in 10.5 points per game while topping Tech in rebounding (7.7 rpg) and blocked shots (2.5 bpg). Sophomore Michael Devoe is also back after averaging 9.7 points per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from the 3-point line.
Nebraska is 5-3 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge since joining the conference in 2011-12. Five of Nebraska’s eight games have been decided by five points or less, including all three losses. In all, Nebraska is 9-6 all-time in conference challenge games, including the Gavitt Games and the former Big 12/Pac 10 Hardwood Challenge. The Big Ten is 5-12-3 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but is an impressive 5-2-3 over the last 10 years. Last year, the teams split the 14 games which allowed the ACC to keep the Commissioner’s Cup.
Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg is no stranger to conference challenge events in his time at Iowa State, going 2-1 in three such events, including a perfect 2-0 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
The Huskers will have a completely retooled roster under Hoiberg, who was hired in April after four-plus seasons with the Chicago Bulls. NU replaces all five starters from a team that went 19-17 and reached the second round of the NIT. In all, 12 of the 13 scholarship players have not played a game at Nebraska and the only returnee who saw playing time a year ago is junior guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson, who averaged 2.0 ppg.. The only other returnee is junior Dachon Burke, who sat out last season after spending two seasons at Robert Morris, where he earned all-conference honors in 2017-18 by averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.
The incoming class includes 11 scholarship newcomers and is NU’s second-highest rated class of the Big Ten era by 247Sports, despite Hoiberg and his staff putting the class together in less than six weeks. The newcomers include a pair of junior college guards ranked in the top-10 nationally in Cam Mack and Jervay Green along with five Division I transfers who combined for 2,300 points and more than 1,000 rebounds at the Division I level. A four-member freshman class includes Yvan Ouedraogo, who will play for France’s U-18 team this summer, Samari Curtis, who was Mr. Basketball in Ohio last year after averaging 34 points per game, and Akol Arop, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska last season.
Season-ticket renewals are underway for the 2019-20 season. Invoices had been sent to season-ticket holders prior to today’s announcement with the expectation of 18 home games, including a home game in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. However, with Nebraska playing a road game in the Challenge for the second consecutive season, ticket holders will receive email communication regarding updated invoices to reflect a 17-game home schedule.
For more information on Nebraska basketball tickets, including the season-ticket waitlist, fans can visit Huskers.com/tickets. Nebraska’s full non-conference schedule will be announced later this month.
2019 ACC/Big Ten Challenge Schedule
Monday, December 2
Miami at Illinois
Clemson at Minnesota
Tuesday, December 3
Florida State at Indiana
Iowa at Syracuse
Michigan at Louisville
Duke at Michigan State
Northwestern at Boston College
Rutgers at Pitt
Wednesday, December 4
Notre Dame at Maryland
Nebraska at Georgia Tech
Ohio State at North Carolina
Wake Forest at Penn State
Virginia at Purdue
Wisconsin at NC State
Corvallis, Ore. -- Despite an valiant effort that saw the Creighton Baseball team battle through four NCAA Tournament elimination games, the Bluejays ran out of gas in a winner-take-all battle with Michigan, falling 17-6 in the Corvallis Regional Final on Monday, June 3.
The loss ended Creighton's season at 41-13, while the Wolverines advanced to the Super Regional with a 44-19 record. The Wolverines will face the winner of tonight's game between #1 UCLA and Loyola Marymount next weekend.
A majestic second inning solo home run to left from junior Will Robertson gave Creighton an early 1-0 lad. It was Robertson's 15th home run of the season, moving him into sole possession of the team lead. The Bluejays extended their edge to 2-0 in the season as junior Parker Upton laced an RBI triple to left-center, plating junior Isaac Collins.
Creighton's starter Mitch Ragan gave one back in the top of the third as he allowed a single, a wild pitch on a strikeout and a pair of walks to force in Michigan's first run of the game. Evan Johnson came on to strand the bases full of Wolverine in the third with a strikeout of Michigan's Christian Bullock
The momentum of Johnson's strikeout carried into the fourth as senior Jack Strunc opened the frame with a blast to right field, his third of the season. Senior Jordan Hovey followed with a double to left and with one down in the frame, sophomore David Vilches lined an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-1.
The bottom of the fourth, however, proved to be Creighton's undoing as Johnson walked the first two hitters, forcing Bluejay head coach Ed Servais to bring in junior John Sakowski from the bullpen. Michigan went on to plate five in the inning, taking the lead for good at 6-4. After a grounder to short accounted for the first out, a hit batter loaded the bases, then a two-run double by Jesse Franklin made it 4-3 and a two-run single from Jordan Brewer gave the Wolverines the edge. Michigan's final run of the frame came on an RBI groundout by Blake Nelson.
A solo home from Michigan catcher Joe Donovan made it a 7-4 game. Michigan added four runs on three hits and an error in the sixth to seize an 11-4 edge.
Strunc tried to rally his squad with his second home run of the night to open the seventh, but Michigan answered with six runs in the seventh.
Creighton pushed across an unearned run in the eighth as Strunc delivered and RBI single.
Sakowski suffered his first loss of the season (7-1), allowing four runs on three hits and a walk in two innings of relief. Michigan's.
2019 CORVALLIS REGIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Most Outstanding Player: Jimmy Kerr, Michigan
Catcher: Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
First Base: Jimmy Kerr, Michigan
Second Base: Jace Mercer, Cincinnati
Third Base: Eric Santiago, Cincinnati
Shortstop: Jack Strunc, Creighton
Outfield: AJ Bumpass, Cincinnati
Outfield: Will Robertson, Creighton
Outfield: Christian Bullock, Michigan
Designated Hitter: Jordan Nwogu, Michigan
Pitcher: Karl Kauffmann, Michigan
Pitcher: Ben Dotzler, Creighton
Nebraska Head Baseball Coach Darin Erstad announced Monday afternoon that he has resigned from his position. Erstad guided the Husker program for the past eight seasons, leading the Huskers to a Big Ten Championship and four NCAA Regional appearances.
“I have made the extremely difficult decision to step away from coaching,” Erstad said. “I love this team. I love our staff and I love Nebraska. The bottom line is I do not want to miss seeing our kids grow up. I want to thank our administration and academic staff for all of their support over the last eight years. GBR forever.”
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said Erstad was the right individual to lead the Husker program, but understands Erstad’s choice to spend more time with his family.
“Darin earned the right to lead this baseball program well into the future, and I was hopeful that would be the case,” Moos said. “Darin loved the opportunity to represent Nebraska every day and did an outstanding job. He’s a Nebraska guy who loves this program and is a proven winner. With all that said, I respect and admire that Darin’s priority now is to spend more time with his family as his children grow up.”
Erstad took over the Nebraska program in June of 2011, and finished with a record of 267-193-1. Erstad’s 2017 team captured the Big Ten regular-season title and he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for his leadership. Four of his eight teams finished second or better in the conference, and his teams reached the Big Ten tournament championship game in 2013, 2014 and 2019. Nebraska qualified for NCAA Regional play in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
The Jamestown, N.D., native is one of the top players in Nebraska baseball history. A two-sport star at Nebraska, Erstad was a first-team All-American and Big Eight Co-Player of the Year in 1995. In addition, Erstad was a two-time academic all-conference pick, and was the starting punter on Nebraska’s 1994 national championship football team. He was inducted into the Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame in September of 2018.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Erstad spent the majority of his career playing for the Angels, where he won three Gold Gloves (2000-02-04) and was selected for the American League All-Star team in 1998 and 2000. He was part of the Angels 2002 World Series Champion team.
Three Nebraska football greats are among 76 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision announced as finalists Monday for the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Huskers on the 2020 ballot for induction into the Hall of Fame include Heisman-winning quarterback Eric Crouch, and a pair of Outland Trophy winning offensive linemen in offensive linemen Zach Wiegert and defensive lineman Larry Jacobson.
Crouch is on the ballot for the ninth straight year, Wiegert is making his fifth appearance on the ballot and Jacobson is in his second year on the ballot. The 2020 class will be announced leading up to the 2020 College Football Playoff Championship in New Orleans.
Crouch would become the second Husker quarterback in the College Hall of Fame, joining Tommie Frazier, who was part of the 2013 class. Crouch became Nebraska's third Heisman Trophy winner in 2001 after leading the Huskers to the National Championship game. An option-based quarterback out of Omaha's Millard North High School, Crouch set the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 59, and he amassed 7,915 yards of total offense in his career. A consensus All-American in 2001, Crouch also reeled in the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Sporting News Offensive Player of the Year award during his senior campaign. His No. 7 jersey was retired by Nebraska in 2002.
Jacobson was a stalwart on Nebraska’s first national title teams in 1970 and 1971. A consensus first-team All-American in 1971, Jacobson on the Outland Trophy as a senior, as he tallied 73 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss to become the program’s first major award winner. He led the Blackshirts to top-five national rankings in rush defense (85.9, second), total defense (202.9, fifth) and scoring defense (8.2, third) en route to a 13-0 record and a second straight national title. During his three seasons at Nebraska, the Sioux Falls, S.D., product led the Huskers to a 33-2-1 mark with two national titles and three conference crowns. His No. 75 jersey was retired in 1994.
Wiegert was a 1994 unanimous first-team All-American and is one of eight Huskers to win the Outland Trophy. A native of Fremont, Neb., Wiegert helped lead the Huskers to 1994 National Championship after NU played in the 1993 title game. The Huskers averaged 340 yards per game on the ground in 1994, and Wiegert led Nebraska with 113 pancake blocks. He even earned one first-place vote for the Heisman, finishing tied for ninth with 27 points. In addition to winning the Outland, he was a finalist for the Lombardi Award, a consensus All-American, the UPI Lineman of the Year and the Touchdown Club of Columbus Offensive Lineman of the Year. His No. 72 jersey was retired before the 1995 season.
Aaron Taylor was the 18th Nebraska player in the College Football Hall of Fame, as he was inducted last December in New York City. Other recent Husker enshrines include Trev Albers (2015), Tommie Frazier (2013), Will Shields (2011) and Grant Wistrom (2009).
Bassett, Neb. (June 3, 2019) – There’s a blond at the Nebraska high school rodeos who has made Gus Franzen’s rodeo go well. It’s not a buckle bunny, and she doesn’t speak. But in Franzen’s opinion, she’s the best around. It’s Sis, a nineteen-year-old palomino mare owned by Gus Franzen and purchased from Bill Manning. Franzen is a steer wrestler in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association who leads the standings in his event. Franzen, who graduated from Kearney High School this month, bought the horse from Bill and Marj Manning. The Mannings have trained steer wrestling horses, and lent them to high school rodeo kids since 2000. A former steer wrestler himself, Bill knew a neighbor kid, who, in 2000, needed a steer wrestling horse but whose parents couldn’t afford one. So he and Marj bought a horse, trained it, and lent it to the youth. Then they bought another one, and another one, and more, training them and hauling them to high school rodeos for steer wrestlers to compete on. One of the biggest investments in rodeo is a cowboy’s equine partner, and the Mannings have made it possible for Nebraska high school steer wrestlers to compete on a good horse. Good horses can make the difference between average competition and winning, and that’s what Manning horses bring to the high school kids. Franzen started steer wrestling his sophomore year, borrowing a horse from a friend. But it wasn’t working well. The next year, Manning talked to him. “He offered to take me under his wing, practice with me, and I could ride his horses,” Franzen said. He took Bill up on his offer, and Franzen’s skills grew. His sophomore year, Franzen began riding Sis, the palomino mare. The mare and Gus “began clicking,” he said. “I’ve ridden her since then.” A few weeks ago, Franzen bought Sis from Manning and will ride her on a rodeo scholarship for collegiate competition at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant this fall. Getting help from Bill and Marj made all the difference for Franzen’s rodeo career, he said, enabling him to travel to other states for rodeo and earning him a college rodeo scholarship. “He’s helped my steer wrestling so much. I can say with confidence I would not be anywhere close to where I am today without them.” In addition to supplying horses, the Mannings keep steers at their place to practice with and host the boys at their ranch, also for practice. Manning attends many of the high school rodeos as well, hauling horses and hazing for the youth. Sis carried Franzen to a second place finish at the 2018 Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings last year, and Marshall Still, of Oconto, to a championship at the Finals the same year. Dalton Kunkee and his brother Weston Kunkee, of Callaway, also ride a horse trained and owned by Manning. Jesse, a sorrel gelding, is their mount in the steer wrestling. Dalton, who will be a junior at Callaway High School this fall, began competing on Manning’s horse in eighth grade. Currently ranked fifteenth in the state standings, Kunkee had a rough start to his rodeo competition this year. “I was having a rocky start,” he said, “and that’s why I came to Bill’s to practice.” Bill put Dalton on Jesse, and it made a difference. “Just getting on Jesse the first time, it fixed everything. I was starting to catch my steers again, and it went together perfectly.” Kunkee realizes the value of having a well-trained, excellent horse to ride. “You’re not going to be successful till you have the right tools, and these horses are excellent. Just to be able to get on a good steer wrestling horse like Jesse, I will be grateful for. I can’t thank Bill and Marj enough.” The Mannings help college kids as well. One of their horses, Skip, is being ridden by Still, who competes for Mid-Plains Community College in McCook. Still has qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo. this month. “Our main thing is,” Manning said, “we help mostly high school kids and first year college kids, to help them transition to college.” Out of eight consecutive runs at college rodeos, Skip never placed lower than third. The Mannings love to help kids and are known for their generosity. “They’re generous,” Kunkee said. “We all know they don’t have to do this.” They do it to give back, Bill said. He never owned a steer wrestling horse till he was 21 years old. “A lot of people helped me,” he said. The Mannings’ horses, plus about 150 high school youth competitors, will compete at the Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings June 13-15. The rodeo, held at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds, takes place at 10 am and 6 pm on June 13-14 with the finals at 1 pm on June 15. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages six and older. For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call 402.462.3247.
Oklahoma City, Okla. – The Nebraska baseball team (32-24) fell to UConn, 16-1, in an NCAA Regional elimination game at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Sunday afternoon.
The Huskers, making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six years, saw their 2019 season come to an end after going 1-2 at the Oklahoma City Regional. It marked Nebraska’s 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and 13th appearance in the last 21 years.
Senior right-hander Reece Eddins, making his 13th start of the season, went 4.1 innings and recorded four strikeouts. Nebraska saw relief outings from Shay Schanaman, Max Schreiber, Mike Waldron, Ethan Frazier, Chad Luensmann, Ben Klenke and Kyle Perry.
In the opening frame, UConn scored one run on two hits and left two runners stranded to take the early lead. The Huskers went down in order in the bottom of the first inning.
The Huskies added a run in the top of the second, as Kyler Fedko hit a solo home run. UConn left one runner stranded, but took a 2-0 lead. Angelo Altavilla managed Nebraska’s first hit of the game with his single in the bottom of the second, but he was left on base.
UConn’s first two batters in the top of the third each singled and advanced to second and third via sacrifice bunt. A strikeout-throw out play ended the inning. NU was retired in order in the bottom of the third.
In the top of the fourth, Connecticut added one run to build a 3-0 advantage. The Huskies had a one-out triple before a bunt single brought in the runner from third. Nebraska scored one run in the bottom of the fourth. Aaron Palensky hit a one-out single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Spencer Schwellenbach drew a walk to put two runners on. Altavilla drove in Palensky with an RBI single before a double play ended the inning.
UConn scored one run in the top of the fifth to take a 4-1 lead. The Huskies managed two hits during the frame to extend its advantage. NU went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
Connecticut tacked on another run in the top of the sixth to build a 5-1 lead. UConn left two runners on base during the inning. In the bottom of the sixth, the Huskers were retired in order.
The Huskies had one baserunner via walk in the top of the seventh, but left him stranded as the score remained 5-1. For the third consecutive inning, all three Husker batters were retired.
UConn added four runs on four hits in the top of the eighth to take a 9-1 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Alex Henwood and Mojo Hagge each singled, but were left on base as each of the other three Husker batters flied out.
In the top of the ninth, the Huskies scored seven runs on six hits to extend their lead to 16-1. NU was retired in order with a strikeout and two flyouts.
Oklahoma City, Okla. – Leading 5-2 after eight innings, Nebraska (32-23) allowed four runs in the top of the ninth as No. 9 Oklahoma State escaped with a 6-5 win in NCAA Regional action at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Saturday night. Trevor Boone hit the go-ahead three-run home run for the Cowboys.
Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Waldron, making his 14th start of the season, recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in 7.2 innings and allowed two runs. It marked the first time a Husker pitcher had more than 10 strikeouts in a game since 2010 when Michael Mariot had 12 against Southeast Missouri State. Shay Schanaman and Colby Gomes each came on for relief appearances for the Big Red.
In the opening frame, Oklahoma State left the bases loaded without scoring. The first two batters each singled before a one-out error loaded the bases. Waldron got out of the jam with a strikeout and flyout. Nebraska plated three runs in the bottom of the first, as each of the first five batters reached base. Jaxon Hallmark and Cam Chick delivered back-to-back base hits before Aaron Palensky crushed a home run to left field. Spencer Schwellenbach was hit-by-pitch and advanced to second on Angelo Altavilla’s single. They made it to second and third on a double steal, but three consecutive outs left them stranded.
The Cowboys managed two baserunners in the top of the second, but left both on base in a scoreless frame. Hallmark hit a one-out single before Chick walked in the bottom of the second, but both runners were left stranded as the score remained 3-0.
Waldron struck out the side on 11 pitches in the top of the third. NU added two runs in the bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead. Altavilla drew a leadoff walk before Gunner Hellstrom singled. They each advanced a base via wild pitch before Gomes drove them both in with a two-RBI single.
Waldron added two strikeouts in a scoreless top of the fourth, as the Cowboys managed one hit in the inning. OSU’s pitcher struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth.
The Huskers held the Cowboys scoreless in the top of the fifth despite a runner getting to third base. Altavilla made a catch in the stands on a foul-out for the second out before Acker’s diving catch to end the inning. NU went down in order in the bottom of the fifth.
In the top of the sixth, Carson McCusker hit a solo home run for Oklahoma State’s first run of the game. It cut the Husker lead to 5-1. The Huskers were retired in order in the bottom of the sixth.
OSU went down in order in the top of the seventh, as Waldron picked up his 10th strikeout of the game. In the bottom of the seventh, NU went down 1-2-3 again.
Oklahoma State scored one run on three hits in the top of the eighth, but left two runners stranded. It cut the deficit to 5-2. In the bottom of the eighth, Hellstrom managed a single, but was left on base.
In the top of the ninth, the Cowboys scored four runs to take their first lead of the game. OSU put two runners on with one out before a flyout advanced the lead runner to third. An RBI single put one run on the board before Boone’s three-run shot to left field. The Huskers went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
The Huskers face UConn in an elimination game on Sunday at noon (CT). The winner advances to play No. 9 Oklahoma State on Sunday at 5 p.m.