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Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst programmed his monthly radio show Wednesday night to showcase three nationally prominent guests – Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany, Big Ten Supervisor of Officials Bill Carollo and two-time Husker Olympian Jordan Larson.
All three guests were interesting while sharing their thoughts with studio host Greg Sharpe. Husker fans will enjoy listening to all three segments, which followed Eichorst describing the Huskers’ 2015-16 season as an “amazing” academic year.
“It’s the best year we’ve ever had academically,” he said. “Our academic progress rate was at an all-time high. All 24 programs achieved higher. Our graduation rate is up to 86 percent – three percent higher than last year and the highest in our history.”
Goal for 600-Plus Student-Athletes: A 90-Percent Graduation Rate in 2018
“Our goal is to reach 90 percent by 2018,” Eichorst said. “Our collective cumulative GPA for more than 600 student-athletes is 3.211. That’s amazing when you think about all the things we’re doing during the day and then getting that done in the classroom. That’s the highest GPA we’ve had since we’ve kept track, and that goes back to 1992.”
Eichorst also pointed out that Nebraska added five Academic All-America awards to its nation-leading total of 325. Four were first-team honorees – Mattie Fowler (Softball), Levi Gipson (Men’s Track & Field), Cody Rush (Men’s Track & Field) and Shavon Shields (Men’s Basketball). Ryan Boldt was a third-team Academic All-American.
The 2015-16 year was historic for Husker student-athletes. “It’s a great tribute to our coaches, support staff and our fan base,” Eichorst said. “They provide great support and help academics reach such a high level.”
Winning Championships Is Important to Coaches, Athletes, Staff, Fans
“Athletically, there’s no question that we want to win,” Eichorst said. “We want to win championships at the highest level. That’s the intention of our coaches and our athletes from the get-go. Last year was special. We won the National Championship in volleyball, were national runner-up in bowling and our men’s track & field team finished with Big Ten Championships indoors and outdoors.
“Several of our teams finished in the top 10 nationally, and we added 49 All-Americans from that group,” Eichorst said. “We had a successful year athletically, and in my mind, we’re building to get better than that and compete at a higher level.”
Hosting about 1.3 million fans this past year “was amazing,” Eichorst said, adding that the Huskers ranked in the top 15 in average attendance in 10 sports, plus continues the nation’s longest consecutive home sellout streak in football with 347 games. NU also has the nation’s longest consecutive home sellout streak in volleyball with 204 matches.
“We’re sold out again this year in football and in volleyball, so we will extend those streaks another year,” Eichorst said.
Losing Semifinals Was Heartbreaking; Earning Bronze Gave Larson Chills
Larson said it was “definitely heartbreaking” to lose to Serbia in the Olympic semifinals in Rio de Janeiro, especially "when you invest four straight years of your life and the blood, sweat and tears that go with that challenge. We did everything that we could,” she said. “We left everything out there. They were just two points better, unfortunately. Serbia is a great team. We beat them in pool play, and they obviously wanted to fight back and did a great job.”
Team USA rebounded to win the bronze medal. “It gives me chills just thinking about it,” Larson said, describing the "great experience” for three former Huskers (Larson, Kayla Banwarth and Kelsey Robinson) to help their teammates come back from adversity and earn the bronze.
Just like they are on the court, the Husker trio showed their togetherness, posing on the first row in the Olympic bronze celebration above. Banwarth is No. 2, Robinson No. 23 and Larson No.10. Big Red fans are proud of having three bronze medalists on the same team.
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