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Interest up in rivalry

It’s been 10 years since the UND football team has played rival North Dakota State for the Nickel Trophy, and the Division II women’s basketball dynasties at each school were left behind when both schools transitioned to Division I athletics.

With NDSU developing into a mainstay in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and UND joining the Big Sky, the football rivalry as it once was is gone for now, but people still turn out in big numbers to see the two schools compete in other sports.

UND has handled anything NDSU has thrown its way lately, picking up wins in volleyball, soccer and men’s basketball this academic year.

At each game, UND played host and reaped the benefits of playing at home, winning all three contests.

On Sept. 11, freshman midfielder Robyn Wujkowski scored a goal and assisted on another to help lead UND soccer over the Bison 4-2 at Bronson Field. UND nearly doubled up on its average attendance at this match, with 293 people at the field.

In fact, those attending that match accounted for nearly one-fourth — 24.3 percent — of the total attendance at UND home soccer matches in 2013.

On Sept. 30, the Green and White rode to a 3-0 victory over NDSU in volleyball in a packed Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. The offense was firing on all cylinders, as the team finished with a .500 hitting percentage in front of 2,688 fans.

The crowd was easily the largest of the season, more than double the average of 1,130 fans per game.

Just last week, 3,142 people filled The Betty to watch North Dakota’s impressive 95-77 men’s basketball win over NDSU. UND had only played one other home game — against Division III Minnesota Morris — but the attendance on Nov. 24 was much higher than the 2012-13 average attendance of 1,620.

Even if the scheduling is a bit tougher than it used to be, it’s likely the rivals — now in different conferences — will continue to meet on a regular basis in most sports. And there is no question, if the football rivalry ever resumes, a sellout crowd will watch the game wherever it is played.

UND has hosted North Dakota State in three sports this year — and the women’s basketball teams will face off Dec. 14 — and in each case, those games have seen higher attendance compared to other home games.

In all, 6,123 fans have attended a UND-NDSU volleyball, basketball or soccer game. Those three games account for 28.1 percent of the total attendance for those sports combined — a total of 24 games.

Robb Jeffries

Robb Jeffries is a news coordinator for Forum News Service. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and previously served as a reporter and copy editor for the Grand Forks Herald. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @robbjeffries.