FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KMTV) — 20 years ago, then-Nebraska head baseball coach Dave Van Horn and then-team captain Will Bolt were helping the Huskers to their first ever College World Series appearance.
On Saturday night in Fayetteville, the two will meet as adversaries as Van Horn now leads his alma mater in #1 overall seed Arkansas, while Bolt leads his in NU.
"I don't particularly like playing former players and friends and coaches," Van Horn said before this week's regional. "Because there's always one of us who ain't going to be real happy at the end of the day. But more than anything, just happy for them and their families and the position that they're in."
"Coach Van Horn is a very, very good coach," Bolt said. "He has a very, very good staff that works for him. They've recruited a lot of really good players and they play hard."
Van Horn was just as complimentary of his former player.
"Gritty, tough, comes to win," Van Horn said of Bolt. The two still exchange text messages and an occasional phone call.
Bolt remembers being recruited by Van Horn when Van Horn was still at Northwestern State when Bolt was 16 years old.
"I just had an instant attraction to the way he talked, the way he coached the game," said Bolt. "I just felt like he was a guy that seemed to exude confidence and leadership."
However, the Houston-area native Bolt wanted to play in the Big 12. So when Van Horn got the Nebraska job, Bolt said it was a no-brainer for him.
"I love the staff that he had," Bolt said. "He had all these grand plans to have a chance to go to the College World Series & go to Omaha."
Van Horn would lead Bolt & the Huskers to another CWS appearance in 2002. Ever since his playing days, Bolt has even been compared to Van Horn with his temperament & mannerisms. And yes, the Arkansas skipper is aware that Bolt has even been referred to as 'Little Van Horn'.
"I think he was maybe a little more feisty back in the day," said Bolt. "He maybe may have mellowed a bit."
First pitch from Fayetteville is set for Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN3.com.