CURLING: Wisconsin's Brown sits alone at top at 2008 USA Curling National Championships

Feb. 18, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 18, 2008 Brown alone at top of leader board at 2008 USA Curling National Championships (HIBBING, Minn.) - Craig Brown's team is alone at top of the leader board after four games at the 2008 USA Curling National Championships at the Hibbing Curling Club. Brown (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Dunlop (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.) have yet to play a full game in the round robin as they cruised to yet another easy win. Today's victim was the Jeremy Roe team from Wisconsin. The game-breaker came in the third end courtesy of a seven-ender by Brown's team after Roe missed both of his skip shots. Four teams are tied for second place as Pete Fenson's last-rock win handed Craig Disher's rink their first loss. The Fenson-Disher battles have proven to be the must-watch games at the Nationals in the past few years as both teams have similar styles and it usually goes down to the last stone. This time, Fenson (Bemidj, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Bemidji, Minn.) and Tom O'Connor (Golden Valley, Minn.) got the better of the North Dakota team, 7-6. "That one was really important for us," O'Connor said of the win. Fenson converted a tap-back on his stone for the win on the final stone in the 10th end. For Disher (Rolla, N.D.) and teammates Kevin Kakela (Rolla, N.D.), Zach Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) and Kurt Disher (Hansboro, N.D.) the eighth end is probably the one they'd like to take back. Disher tried to make a double takeout but slid through the two stones resulting in a steal of two for Fenson's squad. They bounced back in the ninth to tie the game but it gave Fenson, the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist, the last rock advantage to win. John Shuster's team got its first win of the round robin as they handed Todd Birr's defending national champions a third loss, 9-7, in an extra end. Shuster (Chisholm, Minn.) along with teammates Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.) converted a raise takeout with the last stone in the extra end to improve to 1-3. "We finally got one," Plys said of the win. "The last few games have been so frustrating." Tyler George's Minnesota team improved to 2-2 with an 8-4 win over Jason Larway's Washington team. George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Kris Perkovich (Chisholm, Minn.), Phill Drobnick (Duluth, Minn.) and Kevin Johnson (Winabego, Minn.) got to work early as they put three on the scoreboard in the second end and added another in the fourth when George chipped out the lone Larway stone in the house. Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) was forced to take one in the fifth end and George blanked the sixth after making a tough double takeout. Another deuce in the seventh end handed Larway and teammates Colin Hufman (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Anchorage, Alaska) and Joel Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) their first loss of the round robin. "It was a real big win for us," Drobnick said. "We have to get back in the thick of things. This was the first game we controlled from the first end." With a 2-2 record, the George rink is sitting in sixth place with plenty of games left in the round robin. "We figured out what we did wrong in the games we lost and have learned from that," Drobnick said. "We've got a big game tonight against Brown so if we could pull a win out, that'd be great." Greg Romaniuk led his team to a 10-7 extra-end win over Willie Wilberg's Wisconsin team to improve to 3-1. Romaniuk (Snohomish, Wash.) and teammates Doug Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Leon Romaniuk (Kirkland, Wash.) and Mike Calcagno (Kirkland, Wash.) missed a takeout in the 10th end that allowed Wilberg to keep the necessary stones in the house to force the extra end. Romaniuk made a double takeout with his final stone to cut Wilberg's team down to two points to tie the game. In the extra end, Romaniuk kept stones in the house and made an open takeout for the win with the last rock. 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 10, Roe 2; Shuster 9, Birr 7; Romaniuk 10, Wilberg 7; George 8, Larway 4; Fenson 7, Disher 6 Men's standings: Brown (Wisconsin) 4-0 Disher (North Dakota) 3-1 Larway (Washington) 3-1 Fenson (Minnesota) 3-1 Romaniuk (Washington) 3-1 George (Minnesota) 2-2 Shuster (Minnesota) 1-3 Birr (Minnesota) 1-3 Roe (Wisconsin) 0-4 Wilberg (Wisconsin) 0-4 Women's standings: Lank (New York) 1-0 McCormick (Wisconsin) 1-0 Sormunen (Minnesota) 1-0 Stuhlman (New York) 0-0 Lin (Connecticut) 0-1 Gervais (North Dakota) 0-1 Potter (Minnesota) 0-1 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).