CURLING: Three teams remain in front of the pack at 2008 U.S. Nationals

Feb. 17, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 17, 2008 Disher outlasts Shuster to remain undefeated at 2008 USA Curling National Championships (HIBBING, Minn.) - After finishing second at the last two National Championships, Craig Disher's North Dakota team is hoping that this year will be the year they return to the top. Disher's team improved to 3-0 at the 2008 USA Curling National Championships after defeating John Shuster's team in an extra end, 9-8, Sunday afternoon at the Hibbing Curling Club. It was the second consecutive extra-end game for the Disher team, who outlasted Jeremy Roe earlier today. Disher (Rolla, N.D.) and teammates Kevin Kakela (Rolla, N.D.), Zach Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) and Carey Kakela (St. John, N.D.) had to come-from-behind throughout the battle with Shuster and teammates Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.). "We've been struggling," said Kevin Kakela, who along with Disher and coach Joel Jacobson won the 1997 U.S. Nationals. "We've been missing the wrong way...where it hurts you and doesn't help you at all. We need to sharpen up." Tied at 3-3, Disher's team stole two points after Shuster came down heavy with his draw. But, they came back with three in the fifth end and a steal of one in the sixth after Disher wrecked on a guard on his attempted takeout to go up 7-5. Disher patiently set up the deuce finally in the eighth end and stole one in the ninth. Shuster, looking at six Disher stones in the house, drew through a port and spun off a stone in the eight-foot towards the button but ended up a bit too deep in the 10th and settled for just one point. In the extra end, Disher's team prevailed when Shuster's last stone didn't out-count theirs. "We battled back earlier today," Kakela said of this morning's extra-end when after overcoming a six-ender by Roe. "I don't think we're playing as well as we did last year but you can't get much more focused than we are." The defending U.S. champions got their first win of the round robin as Todd Birr (Mankato, Minn.) led his team to a 7-4 defeat of Willie Wilberg's Wisconsin rink. Birr and teammates Bill Todhunter (Appleton, Wis.), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.) and Kevin Birr (St. Peter, Minn.) played a fairly open game with the young Wisconsin team, patiently scoring deuces when they had the last-rock advantage. "A win's a win...we're on the boards," said Todhunter, who helped the Birr team to a bronze medal at the 2007 World Championships last April in Edmonton. Greg Romaniuk's team improved to 2-1 with a steal in the 10th end against Tyler George's team for a 6-5 victory. Romaniuk's team of Doug Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Leon Romaniuk (Kirkland, Wash.) and Mike Calcagno (Kirkland, Wash.) got a stone buried behind a guard early. George's first stone picked up some debris and came up well short of the rings. His second stone also came up short resulting in the steal and the win for Romaniuk's team. Craig Brown's team also improved to 3-0 as they handed Pete Fenson's team its first loss of the round robin, 9-6. Brown (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Dunlop (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.) capitalized on key mistakes by the Fenson team. Trailing 3-2, Fenson had an opportunity for a deuce in the fourth but came up short. A key steal in the eighth end gave Brown's team a comfortable 8-4 lead with two ends remaining. Fenson's group scored two in the ninth but couldn't steal the 10th. Jason Larway's team stayed in the front of the pack with a lopsided 11-6 win over Jeremy Roe's team from Wisconsin. Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) and teammates Colin Hufman (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Anchorage, Alaska) and Joel Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) attacked quick, and often on the winless Roe team going up 6-1 after just three ends. But, Roe (Rio, Wis.) and teammates Pat Roe (Madison, Wis.), Richard Maskel (Green Bay, Wis.) and Mark Hartman (Sun Prairie, Wis.) tried to get back in the game with steals in the fifth and eighth ends. Larway would seal the win with three points in the ninth end to remain undefeated. The women's action gets underway at 8 a.m. Monday featuring seven teams in the field. 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, Fenson 6; Larway 11, Roe 6; Disher 9, Shuster 8; Romaniuk 6, George 5; Birr 7, Wilberg 4 Men's standings: Brown (Wisconsin) 3-0 Disher (North Dakota) 3-0 Larway (Washington) 3-0 Fenson (Minnesota) 2-1 Romaniuk (Washington) 2-1 George (Minnesota) 1-2 Birr (Minnesota) 1-2 Roe (Wisconsin) 0-3 Shuster (Minnesota) 0-3 Wilberg (Wisconsin) 0-3 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).