March 1, 2010

Courtesy of USA Wrestling

In a cooperative effort, USA Wrestling and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will present an exhibition men's freestyle wrestling dual meet as part of the NCAA Fan Festival which is held alongside the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Nebraska.

The event is called the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge and will feature wrestlers who competed for universities in these prestigious conferences as undergraduates. The competitors are now pursuing their Olympic dreams in men's freestyle wrestling.

It will be held at Exhibit Hall C of the Qwest Center Omaha on Friday, March 19 from 1:45 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. Central, as part of the annual NCAA Fan Festival. This is just a short indoor walk north from the Qwest Center Omaha, site of the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

The dual meet will be held on the mats where USA Wrestling's Team USA will hold their popular public workouts between sessions of the NCAA Division I Championships each day.

Admission to the Fan Festival is free, so there will be no charge to watch the men's freestyle action. For the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge, there will be close to 1,000 seats and many more standing room only viewing opportunities provided matside on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, as many as 1,000 fans will be able to watch the dual meet on two large projection screens flanking the main stage within the Fan Festival.

"This is a great concept," said USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Zeke Jones. "It brings the NCAA and USA Wrestling together, with a mission to produce both the best college wrestlers as well as the world's greatest wrestlers. This event is five weeks before our U.S. Open Wrestling Championships. Our athletes will have a chance to push themselves out on the mat."

For those who cannot attend the NCAA Division I Championships in person, the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge will be webcast live on NCAA.com/wrestling and available through TheMat.com, with USA Wrestling's Jason Bryant calling the action.

The rules for the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge have been modified. Instead of having individual match winners, there will be a cumulative point total for each conference. Team scores will be based upon adding up the technical points scored in each match by the athletes. At the end of the dual meet, the points will be tallied up, and the winning conference team will be announced. Will it be the Big Ten or the Big 12 which comes out on top of this challenge match this year?

Another rule modification is that each match will consist of two, two-minute periods. There will not be any third periods contested, which is possible in an international freestyle match.

There are expected to be eight matches which count towards the team total for the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge. Two other exhibition matches are also expected to be held.

"With the cumulative scoring, it is truly a conference rivalry, not an individual rivalry. That was our goal with this competition," said Jones.

The lineups for the Big Ten team, as well as the Big 12 team, have not yet been finalized, but will be announced when they are available. The participants will all have high national rankings on Freestyle Team USA, including some athletes who have been past U.S. Olympic team members or U.S. World Team members.

This year's NCAA Fan Festival will feature wrestling exhibit booths, displays, memorabilia, interactive games, souvenirs, food and beverage sales, and a number of other featured events. In addition to the Big Ten vs. Big 12 Challenge, the lineup Friday includes a USA Wrestling autograph session at 3:15 p.m. and the annual Semifinals Preview Show featuring Nate Carr, Scott Casber and Wade Schalles at 4 p.m. Central.

For more information on the NCAA Fan Festival at the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Nebraska, visit: NCAA.com/wrestling