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Bulldog CIT success dates back to initial title of 1964

By Jacob Knabel on Jan. 25, 2024 in Men's Basketball

For a preview and complete information on the 2024 CIT, click HERE.

In March of 1964, the campus at Concordia Teachers College (as it was titled back then) braced itself for the 14th Concordia Invitational Tournament. CIT would mark the end of the 1963-64 season for then Head Coach Rueben Stohs’ Bulldogs. They were to be joined at the tournament by CTC of River Forest, Ill., Concordia Seminary of St. Louis and Westmar College of Iowa. Concordia Seminary’s Eldon “Pete” Pederson earned credit for developing the framework for CIT all the way back in the fall of 1950.

CIT continued to gain steam as an event that brought together like-minded Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod institutions. Over the years, CIT became a celebration of all things Concordia. On the court, the action has always been intensely competitive. Not surprisingly, Seward’s Physical Education Center Gymnasium was bursting full of hyped-up fans at the 1964 CIT.

One of the seniors on that particular squad, Gordon Bredow (a Seward native) explained the appetite for 1960s Bulldog sports in a recent interview. Said Bredow, “We had a faculty that was really behind us. Sometimes after class the next day, the professors would stop you and talk to you about the game and what they thought about it. We had a lot of good support from our faculty. Of course, the gym was usually packed. It had just been built in 1961. Packing that gym and playing in front of all the students was a big deal. The joke was that there wasn’t much else to do in Seward, so everybody came to the games.”

Entering the 1964 CIT, the Seminary of St. Louis had already claimed nine tournament championships. The Preachers would not leave town with a 10th. In celebration of winning the school’s first ever CIT title, the senior group of Bredow, Wayne Clements (Perryville, Mo.), Roger Pflughaupt (Seward) and Bob Schulz (Lombard, Ill.) surrounded President Janzow, ready to hand off the coveted trophy. On their way to the momentous championship, the Bulldogs defeated CTC of River Forest, 78-55, and then sent the Seminary packing, 76-68, in the title game.

Following the very last game of his collegiate career, Bredow was recognized as the CIT MVP. A standout who once grabbed 30 rebounds in a single game, Bredow collected 47 points and 32 rebounds during the ’64 CIT while going out a winner. Said Bredow, “I certainly didn’t win it by myself. We had a great team effort those two nights in Seward. We played together as a team, and I got the award. They could have given it to any of the other seniors on the team. I’m very thankful for that.”

Indeed, the seniors were the backbone of the ’63-64 team that finished with a 13-10 overall record. The Bulldogs’ top four scorers were the aforementioned seniors: Clements (403 total points), Pflughaupt (294), Bredow (269) and Schulz (222). Bredow led the way in the rebound depart with 209 boards that season.

But no stats would ever top the memory of that first CIT championship in front of the home crowd. As a campus publication of the time wrote, “Undoubtedly, the biggest sports story of the year at CTC was the season-ending basketball tournament hosted by Seward – the Concordia Invitational Tournament.” As another article detailed, “It took Concordia of Seward fourteen years to do it, but they finally won the Concordia Invitational Tournament. In this annual tournament, rarely has it happened that the Preachers from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, have been outhustled. But the Bulldogs from Seward did just that.”

As one might expect, Bredow called the 1964 CIT has most memorable moment as a college athlete. He tallied 28 points in the championship game victory. Said Bredow, “In those days, CIT was played in the first weekend of March, so we always ended our season with the CIT. To go out a winner in my last game, that’s a great memory.”

In the 58 years since then, the Bulldogs have celebrated many more CIT championships (29 total in program history) as part of an event that added a women’s tournament in 1973 and then cheer and dance competitions in 2018. The event remains a special memory even for alums who came before the likes of Clements and Bredow. In the first CIT held in 1951, Bulldogs such as 6-foot-6 Del Meyer and 6-foot-5 Loren Doehrmann made their way to the Seminary in St. Louis. As an article from that time stated, “It is the start of a tournament which Coach Pete Pederson hopes will broaden into a big affair in the years to come.”

In surely did just that despite some changes in which Concordia schools have participated over the years gone by. The dominance by the Bulldogs at CIT ramped up in the 1980s when head coaches Kent Einspahr, Brian Mueller and Tom Baack combined to lead their sides to CIT titles in six of seven years. Then from 1990 through 2012, legendary coach Grant Schmidt guided the Bulldogs to 16 CIT championships in an unprecedented run in the tournament’s history.

In the present day, current Head Coach Ben Limback makes it known to his players just how much CIT means to alums like himself. Limback played for the Bulldogs during Schmidt’s tenure and later coached Concordia Ann Arbor to a pair of CIT titles. He’s now won five more CIT championships as the head coach at CUNE. The latest one came in 2023 inside Friedrich Arena, a venue that has now hosted three CITs since it opened beginning with the 2009-10 season.

A fifth-year Bulldog on the 2022-23 squad, Gage Smith raved about the CIT atmosphere in Seward in saying, “There’s nothing like it, honestly. I thought the GPAC championship last year couldn’t be topped, but this was close. There were a lot of people out here that came to support us. It was a crazy environment. It made us all go harder.”

Back in 1964, Bredow and his teammates felt those same vibes. The CIT title of ’64 lives on as a major highlight in the history of Concordia University, Nebraska Men’s Basketball. It couldn’t have won CIT championship No. 29 without first winning No. 1.