CURLING: Four teams remain undefeated at 2008 USA Curling National Championships

Feb. 17, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 17, 2008 Four teams remain on top at 2008 USA Curling National Championships (HIBBING, Minn.) - It's been eight long years since Craig Brown wore USA on his back but the 33-year-old skip from Madison, Wis., improved to 2-0 with a 9-4 win over Willie Wilberg's team Sunday morning at the 2008 USA Curling National Championships at the Hibbing Curling Club. "We needed to win our first two; that was really important," said vice skip Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.). "The ice is really quick, which we like, and we've adjusted to it really quickly." The Brown rink got off to a fast start much like last's game and built a 4-0 lead after just three ends. Wilberg's team, which is making its first appearance at Men's Nationals, put a deuce on the board in the fourth only to have Brown's team hang four in the following end to seal the win with Wilberg conceding in the ninth end. "We've had a really good year, and we want to keep rolling," Ruohonen said. "Our goal is to make the final four but it's a long week. Hopefully, we just keep it up, and we'll take it one game at a time." Craig Disher's North Dakota team overcame a six-ender by Jeremy Roe's Wisconsin team early in the game to pull out a 10-9 win in an extra end. Disher and teammates Kevin Kakela (Rolla, N.D.), Zach Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) and Kurt Disher (Hansboro, N.D.) took control of the first three ends building a 4-1 lead after stealing two in the third end. Roe had a little luck on his side in the fourth making a raise to chip out the Disher shot stone for what looked like four until he nudged the other Disher stone out and scored six. Disher cut the lead to 7-6 and took the lead in the eighth with three. After blanking the ninth end, Roe could only score one and Disher drew to the button for the win in an extra end after opening up the house with a double peel that also moved Roe's shot rock to the back of the 12-foot. Pete Fenson's team also improved to 2-0 after stealing the 10th end to upend John Shuster's team, 6-5. Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Bemidji, Minn.) and Tom O'Connor (Golden Valley, Minn.) got a stone in the house behind a guard early in the end and built a fortress above the rings as Shuster's teammates couldn't convert any double peels. Shuster was looking at seven guards above the rings when he tried to make a hail-Mary runback for the win that went awry. Jason Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) and his teammates Colin Hufman (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Anchorage, Alaska) and Joel Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) won the battle of the Washington teams defeating Greg Romaniuk, 8-5. Larway's team took the lead early when they got a deuce set up in the second end after Leon Romaniuk (Kirkland, Wash.) wrecked on a guard trying to remove Larway's shot rock. Larway's team would score another deuce in the fourth end after the 2004 national champion made a double takeout with his first stone to set things up. After Romaniuk scored two in the fifth end, Larway would strike for three after making another double takeout with his first stone to set up a draw for three. Romaniuk, who won the Nationals back in 2001 with Larway, couldn't get a big end set up in the 10th after the two teams exchanged singles. Tyler George's Minnesota team handed Todd Birr's defending national champions a second loss of the round robin by a 7-5 score. George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Kris Perkovich (Chisholm, Minn.), Phill Drobnick (Duluth, Minn.) and Kevin Johnson (Winabego, Minn.) came alive in the second half of the match taking the lead in the eighth end when George converted a raise take-out for two when it looked like a steal was in the works for Birr's team. After Birr (Mankato, Minn.) and teammates Bill Todhunter (Appleton, Wis.), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.) and Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.) scored one in the ninth end, George's team kept a stone in scoring position for most of the end. Birr's final stone was a bit too wide giving George's team their first win of the round robin. The men's action continues with games at 2 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 5 p.m. The women's competition, which features seven teams, gets underway Monday morning. The winning teams at the 2008 Nationals will represent the U.S. at the 2008 World Championships. The women's event is scheduled March 22-30 in Vernon, British Columbia. The 2008 Men's World Championship is slated April 4-13 at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. Live scoring from the 2008 Nationals can be found on the USA Curling website at Game scores: Brown 9, Wilberg 4; Disher 10, Roe 9; George 7, Birr 5; Fenson 6, Shuster 5; Larway 8, Romaniuk 5 Men's standings: Brown (Wisconsin) 2-0 Disher (North Dakota) 2-0 Fenson (Minnesota) 2-0 Larway (Washington) 2-0 George (Minnesota) 1-1 Romaniuk (Washington) 1-1 Birr (Minnesota) 0-2 Roe (Wisconsin) 0-2 Shuster (Minnesota) 0-2 Wilberg (Wisconsin) 0-2 USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike as well as by AT,T 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).