By Randy York
The graphic you see at the top of this special N-Sider is not a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma. It is the perfect portrayal of what every Husker fan will see Saturday night at 6 p.m. when you show up at the renovated and reinvigorated Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Shortly after sitting in your seat and checking out the extended landscape on the floor to accommodate two top 10-ranked teams, your eyes will not deceive you and the action will not disappoint you. For Nebraska fans who like to be trailblazers, this is the question: Are you ready to Tumble N’ Rumble at the same time?
If your answer is yes, buy a $5 adult ticket ($3 for youth and seniors) and become part of a competitive experiment that will double your pleasure and double your fun. To honor the true spirit inside a revised and refreshed sports venue, you just might see a Nebraska All-America female gymnast tumbling high into the air at the same time an All-America Husker wrestler might be taking down and pinning an opponent to the mat.
Manning, Kendig Equally Excited about Combined Event
It’s difficult to determine which Husker head coach is more excited – Mark Manning, whose wrestling team is ranked No. 8 nationally, or Dan Kendig, whose No. 10-ranked women’s gymnastics team is seeking a fourth consecutive conference championship.
“This is a great opportunity for two very successful Husker sports to get in front of a new and hopefully bigger audience,” said Matt Tomjack, Nebraska’s assistant director of Fan Experience. Tomjack knows what a simultaneous two-sport circus can produce, and he understands the mutual benefits of putting those two sports together at the same time. The Wahoo, Neb., native managed a Tumble N’ Rumble event at the University of Missouri and the result was the 10th biggest gymnastics crowd in school history.
“Not only did we get the wrestling and gymnastics fans, but we were able to draw the school’s overall fan to come and see what it’s all about,” Tomjack said. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll make a gymnastics fan out of a wrestling fan or vice versa. Our goal is to create a larger crowd than both sports would normally get on their own, and we feel confident we can do that.”
Savvy Fans Can Make Event Part of Husker Tradition
At this early point of the season for both nationally ranked Husker teams, Tomjack is hoping the event can draw a crowd between 2,500 to 4,000 fans. “My favorite part of this event is that it’s new,” he said. “It’s something Husker fans have never experienced. It’s a novelty and a treat for everyone, and I truly hope that this event is so successful, it becomes part of our tradition from this point on.”
The timing is perfect for Nebraska wrestlers to host Penn (the Ivy League team, not Big Ten powerhouse Penn State) on Saturday night after entertaining conference foe Indiana on Friday night. The gymnastics portion of the Tumble N’ Rumble will mark the Husker gymnasts’ season opener against Northern Illinois.
Saturday’s experiment was selected to give Tumble N’ Rumble a singular signature spotlight. Nebraska’s defending national champion bowling team is competing Saturday in St. Louis and the Husker men’s gymnastics team will compete at the Rocky Mountain Open in Colorado Springs. Big Red’s men and women basketball teams are both off Saturday before playing Sunday road games – the men at Purdue and the women at Illinois.
Take Advantage of Saturday Night’s Best Family Buy
“It’s a great time to do a test event like this,” Tomjack said. “You get two highly ranked teams in two Olympic sports competing on the same floor at the same time. Seeing either team in a single event is a good buy. Seeing both at such an affordable price is a great buy for families. A number of fans will use their “Take 5” popcorn box coupons that we distribute to other home events, so they can help friends and family members gain free admission for five people. Combine that with the price we’ve set for this event, and every family can make a nice night out for a very affordable evening. We think it’s the best Saturday night family buy in Lincoln.”
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