CURLING: Minnesota women's teams clash at 2008 USA Curling Junior Nationals

Feb. 07, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 7, 2008 Minnesota women's teams clash at 2008 Junior Nationals (PORTAGE, Wis.) - Miranda Solem's Minnesota 2 team proved why they should be at the 2008 USA Curling Junior National Championships in Portage, Wis., with a big win Wednesday night at the Portage Curling Club. Solem's team didn't automatically earn a spot at the 2008 Junior Nationals - they came in the back door after a team from the Great Lakes region was unable to attend. The berth then was offered to the runner-up team in that region who declined the invitation. The spot was then awarded to the region with the most 2008 entries for junior women's playdowns and Solem's team was packing their bags for Portage. All that being said, Solem (Cohasset, Minn.) and teammates Grace Gabower (Milton, Wis.), Julie Lilla (Centerville, Wis. ) and Chelsea Solem (Cohasset, Minn.) 5-2 record shows why they are a team to be reckoned with at this event as they handed Alex Carlson's Minnesota 1 team a 6-5 loss - their first of the competition. Carlson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) and teammates Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (Duluth, Minn.) are now tied for first place with Monica Walker's Massachusetts team, which defeated Katherine Stewart's Illinois team, 8-6. Five women's teams remain in the playoff race as the other five in the field have now been eliminated from contention. Among the other teams alive in the playoff hunt are Alaska's Kaye Hufman rink and Wisconsin 1's Nina Spatola team with 5-2 records. Hufman and teammates Lacy Birklid, Vicky Persinger and Tina Persinger (all of Fairbanks, Alaska) stole the last two ends against Utah's Miranda Schieber team for a 7-6 victory. Spatola's Wisconsin teammates Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Anna Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and Jenna Haag (Milton, Wis.) easily handed Pennsylvania's Sarah Anderson team an 11-3 loss. With two games remaining in the round robin, many of the top teams will now face each other. Hufman's Alaska team still has to play Minnesota 1 (6-1) and Wisconsin 1 (5-2) while Massachusetts (6-1) and Minnesota 1 will meet in tonight's action. Minnesota 2 is the only team that has lower ranked teams left to play with games remaining against Pennsylvania (2-5) and Wisconsin 2 (0-7). Live scoring can be found on the USA Curling website at The round robin continues through Friday morning followed by the Page System playoffs in the evening. In the playoffs, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will face off with the winner advancing to the championship final and the losing team playing the winner of the No. 3 v. No. 4 game in a semifinal. The championship finals are set for 1 p.m. Saturday. The winning teams from the 2008 Junior Nationals will represent the U.S. at the 2008 World Junior Championships March 1-9 in Ostersund, Sweden. Standings: Women: Minnesota 1 (Carlson) 6-1 Massachusetts (Walker) 6-1 Alaska (Hufman) 5-2 Wisconsin 1 (Spatola) 5-2 Minnesota 2 (Solem) 5-2 Illinois (Stewart) 2-5 Utah (Schieber) 2-5 Pennsylvania (Anderson) 2-5 North Dakota (Tucker) 2-5 Wisconsin 2 (Schaffer) 0-7 Men: Minnesota 1 (Plys) 6-1 North Dakota (Jensen) 5-2 New York (Corbett) 5-2 Washington (Thomas) 5-2 Massachusetts (Dropkin) 4-3 Wisconsin (Caldwell) 4-3 Minnesota 2 (Wald) 4-3 Illinois (Rahn) 2-5 Michigan (Smith) 0-7 Alaska (Birklid) 0-7 USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike as well as by AT,T, General Motors, The Home Depot, and Bank of America through a joint marketing program with the U.S. Olympic Committee. (30) For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling,, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).