March 5, 2010

STILLWATER OK...The NCAA and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum (NWHOFM) are featuring a tribute to The Native American Wrestling Experience during this year's 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb.

"We are extremely excited to be able to bring awareness to the wrestling community on the many contributions the indigenous peoples of North America have woven into the sport's evolution," said Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. "We have assembled a group of Native Americans who have excelled in the sport and in life to participate in an exciting program that fans will not want to miss."

NCAA Fan Festival emcee Don Blasingame will engage former NCAA wrestling champions Ray Miller, Mark Branch, Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chad Smith, and several more Native American panelists. This presentation will take place from 5 - 6:15 p.m. Central on Thursday, March 18, on the main stage of the NCAA Fan Festival in Exhibit Hall C of the Qwest Convention Center. Admission to the NCAA Fan Festival is free.

The Hay-Lush-Ka Singers and Dancers from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska will provide live entertainment before and after the program, and an autograph session with the panelists will take place immediately following the presentation.

All attendees at the Native American Wrestling Hall of Fame Presentation will receive a free 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships poster prior to the autograph session.

In conjunction with the presentation, the NWHOFM will have The Native American Wrestling Experience exhibit on display at the NCAA Fan Festival throughout the championship event.

The NWHOFM has published a book for the exhibit entitled The Native American Wrestling Experience: A Quiet Contribution. The 44-page booklet, authored by Roger Moore, features several wrestling legends that have been passed along for generations within the Native American culture.

The book also sheds light on the personal stories of those individual Native Americans who have excelled in the sport of wrestling, as well as providing an outline for the exhibit.

The NWHOFM will also be hosting its annual Champions Reunion in Room 213 of the Qwest Convention Center immediately following the first session of competition on Thursday, March 18. All former NCAA Champions, USA Olympians and Hall of Fame members are invited to engage in fellowship with fans and each other before the Native American Fan Fest program.

Advanced reservations are required for the Champions Reunion. Anyone interested in attending the reunion, or in purchasing the book on Native American Wrestling can contact the NWHOFM at 405/377-5243 or online at www.wrestlinghalloffame.org.

In addition to The Native American Wrestling Experience, the NCAA Fan Festival will feature other wrestling exhibit booths, displays, memorabilia, interactive games, souvenirs, and food and beverage sales.

Other NCAA Fan Festival events scheduled for Thursday, March 18, include free access to the USA Wrestling team practice and an autograph session with Wrestling Hall of Fame inductees Pat Smith, Ed Banach, Gray Simons, Olympian Brad Vering and former NCAA national champion Dave Martin. These five individuals represent former NCAA national champions from the past five decades.

The 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will take place March 18 - 20, at the Qwest Center Omaha in Omaha, Neb. For more information on the wrestling championships, log on to NCAA.com/wrestling.