The hidden moments of high school athletics

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If this coronavirus pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the fantastic ability for high school kids to handle disappointment, grief and letdown with such a positive attitude.
This week launches the first of several stories featuring spring sports athletes who had their final seasons of high school sports cut short and the emotions of dealing with everything along with it.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks trying to invade seniors’ quarantine from all four area schools to have them share their feelings on everything from the emotion of missing state track to what’s occupying their newfound free time.
This was supposed to be a special season for the Aurora girls soccer team. Much like their boys team counterpart, this was to be the fourth season of existence, meaning this year’s seniors would be the first to come through as four-year participants.


Lyon set to join Concordia track program

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Rody Lyon’s triumphant return to the track will certainly happen, just not the way he first envisioned it.
The Giltner senior recently signed a letter of intent to continue his academic as well as track and field career at Concordia University to join the Bulldog program. Get the whole scoop in this week's print or e-editions.



Janzen inks with Nebraska Wesleyan for track

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Sydney Janzen is pretty fast on the track. That’s not up for debate.
She did, however, take a bit more time to slow down and make her college choice, one that she’s excited about for a variety of reasons. Details in this week's ANR.



Walk-ons carry rich college football history

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I’m a huge college football fan but until the other day, I had never heard of Brandon Burlsworth. Evidently I missed the boat on this former Arkansas Razorback. That is, until I saw the movie “Greater” on Netflix.
In short, Burlsworth walked on to the University of Arkansas football team in 1994 as an offensive lineman, got a scholarship his first year there and became a star, getting drafted by the Indianapolis Colts as the 63rd overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. His tragic death as the result of a car accident just 11 days later, after a Colts’ coach told him he would be a starter at right offensive guard but before he could sign his contract, is how his life came to an abrupt end.
Burlsworth is a legend in Arkansas. Bleacher Report named him the No. 1 Greatest Walk-On of the BCS era. He and Clyde Scott are the only two Razorbacks to have their jerseys retired, and Burlsworth’s locker is encased in glass inside the Hog’s locker room.


Remember when? A trip through the sports time machine

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Looking back at history and trying to understand it is something that has always caught my attention.
Back in high school, my English teacher, who also kickstarted by sportswriting career, had seniors complete a rather substantial research paper that was supposed to include somewhere along the lines of 10 pages and several sources.
The paper I finished had upwards of 27 pages and so many books that I could hardly carry them all at one time in my backpack.
It’s why I scored so well on Dave’s Husker history trivia games this past month, until the final week when he Rich-proofed it.
Hopefully, this new project will be fun and can give area fans a look back at some moments in history. Over the next several weeks, the News-Register will roll out a sports page from the past and run it the way it was back then.
We’ve started with the May 29, 1980 edition where the Aurora boys track team won the state championship on what’s still familiar ground in Omaha.


A ‘thank you’ to the Class of 2020 athletes

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Just because bad news is seemingly inevitable doesn’t make it any easier to digest once it’s official.
The announcement that spring sports was officially cancelled by the NSAA last week was tough to swallow. With the world we live in now, the decision is the right one. Still, it stings.
This has been tough to digest. The favorite sport of the News-Register sports department is the one that’s in session. I truly mean that, and hope our coverage reflects it.
And, boy, the area was going to be tough in several sports.
The Giltner girls track team was primed to make more history with a possible sixth straight Class D championship. That won’t happen.
The Aurora girls track team had a couple dominant pieces that would have made some noise at Omaha Burke. All is quiet for now.


NSAA cancels spring activities season

The NSAA has cancelled the remainder of Spring events for the 2020 season.

In accordance with Wednesday's new Directed Health Measure by Gov. Pete Ricketts, the NSAA canceled all remaining practices and competitions, including district and state competitions, for the remainder of the school year.

Activities were previously suspended through May 1. Summer activity bylaws take effect May 26.

The NSAA is encouraging all schools to follow CDC, local, state and federal health department recommendations. The May 1 Transfer List deadline remains unchanged.


Telling the story of Husker football is no easy task

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A question posed on Twitter last week had my brain working a bit too much last week. The heavy smoke in town came from the Rhoden man cave.
The question posed came from Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald. The question was, a friend wanted to know the story of Nebraska football, but could only watch five games. Which five do you recommend?
With literally nothing else to do to keep myself occupied, I turned this question over so many times that it would be a waste of time if I didn’t write about it.
First of all, it’s all but impossible to tell the entire story of Husker football in just five games. However, that’s what makes this “game” fun and challenging.
At one point or another, I had entertained 10 or so games on the list, but I couldn’t get away from these.
1971 Nebraska defeats Oklahoma, 35-31.
They call it the game of the century for a reason. The rest are just imitations.


Dealing with challenging times in sports and beyond

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I know there’s usually not much commentary in these sports previews, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions.
When my tireless efforts on this spring sports preview began, life was ‘normal.’ That’s a far cry from where we’re at now.
What’s worse, we have no idea what “normal” looks like in a few days, let alone in a week or two.
Spring sports unfolding over the next few months is a giant question mark and understandably why. What we’re dealing with now isn’t a regional issue or even a national concern. It’s a global pandemic.
However, I will continually use the word ‘when’ spring sports begin, not if. Until someone tells me they won’t take place, I won’t believe otherwise.
Understandably, people may wonder why we put out this section without knowing an official start date for our area spring sports.
It was met with plenty of debate within the office and a few sleepless, toss-turning nights from the sports guy.


Horse racing a staple at Fonner Park

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The common phrase used to describe Fonner Park from multiple people is “fun experience.”
Many Nebraskans and others from surrounding states make a yearly pilgrimage to Grand Island’s Fonner Park to see any number of horse races from the late winter months through spring.
Fonner Park began its 67th season of racing just a few weeks ago under what seemed like normal conditions.
Despite the coronavirus threat, Fonner Park pushed on with its races last weekend. However, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele announced Monday that live horse racing is closed at Fonner Park for the forseeable future.

Read more in this week's print or e-editions.



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