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AP Sports News

PHOENIX (AP) — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell touched on a number of issues in his pre-Super Bowl news conference. While not making any commitments, the commissioner did mention that there is "great potential for the NFL in London." He also said that he knows that several teams are interested in moving to Los Angeles but the league's main priority is to keep teams where they are. Goodell announced that the NFL will create a new position of chief medical officer to oversee all the league's health policies.

PHOENIX (AP) —Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick are extremely complimentary of each other as they hold their final joint news conference before Sunday's Super Bowl. Belichick says Seattle is "a tough team to prepare for." Carroll says his team's preparations have been similar to what they did before last year's Super Bowl victory, but the Patriots present "extraordinary" challenges to his team.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Prosecutors in Pittsburgh have dropped a marijuana charge against New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount that stemmed from an August arrest with former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Le'Veon Bell. Blount's attorney told the court on Friday that he had completed his required 50 hours of community service by working with a group called Urban Achievers in Boston.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Tiger Woods is heading home after shooting an 82, his worst round of golf as a professional. Woods' 13 over par badly missed the cut at the Phoenix Open. He told reporters after the round, which included a couple of double bogeys and a triple bogey, that he needs to "continue with the process" to get his game back in shape in order to compete on the PGA tour.

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita is facing serious health issues after being diagnosed with a form of dementia. Family members say the 74-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer is being treated for suspected Lewy body dementia. The progressive disease causes problems with thinking, movement and behavior. Mikita played his entire 22-season NHL career with the Blackhawks, recording 541 goals and 926 assists in 1,394 games.

St. Mary's Senior Signs to Play Volleyball at Northeast Community College

Mackenzie Wecker signed to play volleyball at Northeast Community College this fall. Pictured in the front row (from left) are Valerie Wecker, mother, Mackenzie Wecker, and Dana Wecker, father. Back row (from left) Tony Allen, athletic director at St. Mary’s, McKenzie Connot, head volleyball coach at St. Mary’s, Amanda Schultze, Northeast volleyball coach, and Rev. James Netusil. (Courtesy Photo)

About a week and a half ago, Mackenzie Wecker decided to attend college at NECC, and signed the official Letter of Intent. Wecker becomes the second Cardinal to play for the Hawks in as many years, as Brooke Bauer is currently a freshman on the basketball team. Below is the official NECC press release:

NORFOLK – A senior at St. Mary’s High School in O’Neill has signed to play volleyball this fall at Northeast Community College.

During the 2014-15 season, Mackenzie Wecker had an 87.2-percent serve average, recorded 36 aces and 398 digs. This season, she broke her own school record for career digs with 1,464. She also set a school record of 28 digs in a single game during her freshman season.

Wecker has earned a number of honors during her career with the Cardinals. During her senior season, she was named to the Norfolk Daily News Elite Eight, First Team captain; Omaha World Herald Class D1 First Team and All-Tournament Team; Lincoln Journal Star Class D1 First Team captain, All Tournament Team and All- Class Libero; Holt County Independent All-Conference First Team; NebPrepVolleyball Player of the Year in D1; NebPrepVolleyball All-Nebraska All-Class Second Team; NebPrepVolleyball All-State D1 Tournament Team and Niobrara Valley Conference First Team. Wecker competed on state volleyball championship teams for St. Mary’s in which the team claimed the Class D1 titles in 2013 and 2014.

Wecker is a standout in other sports as well. She competed on teams that qualified for the state tournaments in basketball and track, including the 2013 Class D team state track championship. She also broke the school records in the 100 high hurdles and pole vault during her freshman and sophomore years, respectively.

“Mackenzie is a great athlete and very talented volleyball player. Her passing and defensive abilities will make a big impact on our program right away,” said Amanda Schultze, Northeast volleyball coach. She has a great attitude as well as work ethic on and off the court. We are very excited to have her be a part of our program.”

NVC Conference Basketball Tournament Brackets

The venerable Niobrara Valley Conference Basketball Tournament kicks off Saturday in Stuart and Bassett as ten of the thirteen teams play for a spot in the quarterfinals. Since the addition of the three newest teams, the first day of the conference tournament has turned from a day with a couple of bunny bracket games to a de facto first round.

This year the top three seeds are the St. Mary's, Stuart and CWC girls, while the Stuart and St. Mary's boys also made the cut along with the #1 seed O/C Cyclones. They are the only teams that won't play on Saturday. This year the quarterfinals begin with the boys on Monday, while the girls go on Tuesday. Clearwater and Stuart are host sites for the boys, while St. Mary's and Stuart host the girls. All semifinal action will be at Stuart on Thursday, February 5, with play-by-play on KBRX. This year the girls will play the two early games, and the boys finish Thursday night. Saturday's championship and consolation matches will be in Atkinson once again, with the Top Dog in Sports providing coverage.

So here are the official brackets: The girls' bracket is the the left and the boys to the right. Click on each picture to open a full-sized bracket.



Mid-State Conference Basketball Brackets

The Mid-State Conference Tournament will take place (mostly) in Norfolk in the first week of February. Games will be played at Northeast Community College and Norfolk Catholic, except for two bunny bracket games that will be at the higher seed. O'Neill is in one of those, as the girls will play Boone Central/Newman Grove in Newman Grove on Saturday, January 31. Otherwise all of the games will be played in Norfolk. The tournament wraps up with six games on Saturday, February 7, consisting of 5th place, 3rd place and 1st place games in each gender.

Below are the Mid-State Brackets in jpeg form, with the girls on the left and boys on the right. If you would rather open a .pdf, click here for the girls' bracket and here for the boys' bracket.



Lewis & Clark Basketball Brackets

The Lewis & Clark basketball tournament is one of the longer conference tournaments in the state because of the 17 teams enrolled in the conference. Starting with bunny bracket games on Friday, January 30, the tournament finishes Monday, February 9.

The girls' bracket will be split into many locations. Allen hosts the girls and boys bunny bracket games on Jan. 30. On the first big day of play, Ponca, Randolph, Emerson-Hubbard, and Wynot are the four sites based on their seeds. Ponca and Hartingon host quarterfinal play, with Wakefield getting the semifinals and Laurel the consolations/championships. Osmond and Laurel-Concord-Coleridge are hosts of the extra consolation games on February 3. These games are for the teams that lost in the first round, so that they don't have to go a week and a half without a game.

Click here for a .pdf of the girls' bracket, or click the picture to the left

Click here for a .pdf of the boys' bracket, or click the picture to the right

The boys' bracket will have first round play at Winnebago, Walthill, Randolph and Wynot. Wausa and Winside are locations for the quarterfinals, with semifinals in Allen. Laurel is the site for both girls and boys consolations/championships. Homer and Emerson-Hubbard host games on February 5 for the losers of the first round games.

O'Neill Alumni Tournament Entries Are Now Open

Sign up now for the annual O'Neill Alumni Tournament, which is coming up March 27-29. Three brackets will be set up, involving Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball and Women's Volleyball. Please enter your team by e-mailing Gary Hostert at or calling 402-340-2483.

St. Pat's Fun Run Registration is Now Open!

The Shamrock Fun Run will again be one of the biggest St. Pat's Day events.

The 36th Running of the Shamrock Fun Run will be held on Saturday, March 14th. Participate in a 5 mile run or 2.5 mile run/walk. Come to the Irish Capital of Nebraska and take part in the 36th Annual Shamrock Fun Run! The event will start at St. Patrick's Church and end just north of the Shamrock Downtown.  

Awards will be give at the Blarney Stone following the race with a complimentary Irish Stew Buffet to all participants. Overall Female and Male will be awarded in both 2.5 and 5 Mile. Top 3 Male and Female in each group will be awarded medals.

Packet pickup will be at St Mary's High School (300 N 4th Street, O'Neill, NE 68763) Friday from 5:00PM-7:00PM and on race morning. The race will be held come rain, shine or snow! St Patrick's Day is always fun regardless of weather.

Please note there are changes to the registration prices, the earlier you sign up, the more money you'll save:
$15 registration fee until January 31st
$20 registration fee (February 1st through February 28th)
$25 registration fee (March 1st through March 13th)
$35 registration fee on Race Day

The price does not include the purchase of a shirt. A short sleeve T-Shirt may be purchased for an additional $10.00 or long sleeve T-Shirt for an additional $15.00. Shirts will not be available to order after March 6th, 2015.

Sign up online at

AYSO Soccer Registration is Now Open

AYSO soccer sign up for the spring season is underway! The season will run from April 11th through May 16th.  Registration must be done online at  Please follow the instructions on the website to get your player signed up.  This year you will not be required to print copies of your registration forms.  Please mail payments to AYSO-Region 629, P.O. Box 267 O’Neill, NE 68763.  If you need assistance with the online process, please contact Amanda Schluns at or 340-9356. Assistance will be provided with registration for those without access to the internet at the O’Neill Public Library on January 17th from 10:30 am-1:00 pm.  The cost of early registration is $40.  Teams will be formed beginning February 15th, so after that time the registration fee will be $50.  Please sign up early & save!

Bison's Championship a Special One for O'Neill Family

Nebraska connections abound in Fargo, ND. Out of all of those ties, one in particular just happens to make its way to the Shamrock City.

As North Dakota State completed their fourth straight FCS football national championship, among those cheering in the stands for the Bison (by the way, pronounced Bi-zon) were O’Neill’s very own Dr. Ryan and Emily Banks. Dr. Banks, originally from Wausa, and wife Emily from Schuyler not only saw a great football game (in which NDSU beat Illinois State 29-27 in the final minute), but were able to watch a family member star on the Bison defense.

As if being on four championship teams wasn’t a great enough accomplishment, defensive end Kyle Emanuel capped off his senior year with a slew of awards, and not just any awards. Emanuel was voted the FCS Defensive Player of the Year by the Athletics Directors Association and the Buck Buchanan award winner as the best defensive player in the FCS by national media. In Saturday’s championship game, Kyle had four tackles, with 1.5 tackles-for-loss.

And if you haven’t figured it out by now, this defensive end and the Banks’ family relation are one and the same.
photo courtesy of NDSU Athletics
Kyle is the brother of Emily Banks, and is a 2010 graduate of Schuyler High School. A three-time all-district player for the Warriors, Kyle redshirted his first year at NDSU. After an impressive freshman season, Kyle was named to the Missouri Valley Conference honorable mention team his sophomore year, then to the MVC 2nd team his junior year. One award after another rolled in his senior year, and throughout his five years was recognized for academic excellence off the field. Emanuel will leave Fargo with several NDSU and FCS records, mostly relating to sacks. Emanuel’s 19.5 sacks this season set an MVC record and is 5th on the FCS list for a season, while his 35.5 career sacks ranks 6th in FCS history. NDSU went 58-3 while Emanuel played. Kyle will play in the Jan. 17th Shrine All-Star game before beginning to train for a chance to play in the NFL.

Besides being the program that Craig Bohl built, NDSU’s roster was filled with Nebraska players. One player that made a huge impact in the championship game was RJ Urzendowski, who made a lot of headlines as a receiver at Creighton Prep. One of the better players in last year’s Cornhusker state class, Urzendowski finished a fantastic freshman campaign with five catches for 100 yards in Frisco, TX on Saturday. One other Nebraska player that made national news was Omaha Skutt graduate Christian Dudzik, who unofficially became the ironman of Division I football. Although no official records are kept for game participation, it is unlikely that anyone in Division I has started more games than Dudzik, who finished his career with his 61st consecutive start. Linebacker Pierre Banks played in 62 games when Appalachian State won three straight Division I-AA titles, but started in only 47. The senior safety ranks third all-time at NDSU with 150 solo tackles.

Congratulations to the Banks and Emanuel families and to Kyle for his accomplishments.

Atkinson Knights of Columbus Hold Free Throw Competition

The Atkinson Knights of Columbus Post #4707 held their free throw contest at West Holt Schools on Saturday, January 10, 2015 with 34 contestants.
These winners will compete at the District competition which will be held Sunday, February 8 in Stuart.
Here are the age group winners
Front row: Age 9  Catarina Ketteler, Age 10 Jaden Mathis, Age 11 Landyn Mlady, Age 12 Reghan Kerkman, Age 13 Lindsey Jelinek and Age 14 Leighton Mlady 
Back row: Age 9 Caeden Lech, Age 10 Weston Mathis, Age 12 Logan Sanford, Age 13 Jordan Tasler, Age 14 Austin Wenner

O'Neill Knights of Columbus Free Throw Contest Held

(left to right) Kyle Kramer, Alissa Brabec, Hailey Turpin, Jessica Green, Jadyn Eby
Michael Poese, Isaiah Wiese, Blake Benson, Tate Thompson, Isaac Everitt and Andy Fehringer

The O’Neill Knights of Columbus held their Free Throw Contest Saturday morning at St. Mary’s High School.  The winners in each age group qualify for the District competition which will be held Sunday, February 8 in Stuart.  Here are the winners in each age group:
9 Years Old
Girls Alissa Brabec, O’Neill
Boys Isaac Everitt, O’Neill
10 Years Old
Girls Hailey Turpin, O’Neill
Boys Tate Thompson, O’Neill
11 Years Old
Girls Jessica Green, Atkinson
Boys Blake Benson, O’Neill
12 Years Old
Girls Jadyn Eby, O’Neill
Boys Isaiah Wiese, O’Neill
13 Years Old
Boys Michael Poese, O’Neill
No Girl Entries
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