CURLING: Minnesota and Wisconsin for both finals at curling's Club Nationals.

March 08, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMDIATE RELEASE March 8, 2008 Minnesota and Wisconsin for both finals at curling's Club Nationals. (STEVENS POINT, Wis.) Minnesota and Wisconsin teams won their semi-finals at the U.S. Club Nationals in Mankato, Minn. and will face off in the finals at 2 p.m. Women's semi-finals: Minnesota's Norma O'Leary team, from the Duluth Curling Club, beat the Exmoor Curling Club entry from Highland Park, Illinois, skipped by Tracy Lawless, 9-5. The key shot of the game was O'Leary's angle raise takeout for three points in the seventh end. O'Leary's team includes Pam Cavers, Mary Johnson and Patti Luke, all of Duluth (O'Leary is from Silver Bay). Lawless (of Hawthorn Woods) curls with Amy Brown (Deerfield), Leslie Earls (Lake Bluff) and Deborah Moulton (Lake Forest). O'Leary noted,"The Illinois game was tight, they controlled until the seventh when we made a nice angle raise for three, which changed the momentum."This is the fourth Club Nationals playoff for Team O'Leary."We were in the finals in Chicago and Superior, and lost in semis at St. Paul,"said O'Leary. When asked if this makes it harder or easier this time, Norma said,"Definitely not easier-probably about the same. It seems the more times you get to that point the more you want it and maybe it's harder to achieve."Team O'Leary has been together for the last three years, and also play in Duluth league together, so they know one another's curling quite well."As for the final,"O'Leary said,"We may have played too conservatively in past. We may play a little more aggressively and looser instead of waiting. We want hammer coming home. The Green Bay team are nice players and nice girls. I think this is a great event. The level of competition is probably much harder than people think. The two nationals formats are great for curling."Line score: IL* 100 101 020 X 5 MN 012 000 303 X 9 The mom and teenagers from Green Bay, Wisconsin, beat Maryland 11-7 in seven ends and find themselves in the final against Duluth's veterans. A steal of four broke open a tight game in the fourth end, when Maryland skip Ann Drummie's draw over curled and pushed a Badger rock in for a fourth point. The Potomac Curling Club team (Laurel, Md.) includes Drummie (of Washington, D.C.), Joan Twigg (Severna Park, Md.), Rachel Treesh (Silver Spring, Md.) and Rachel Bayerle (Alexandria, Va.). Joy Pahl skips Erin Wallace, Kimberly Rhyme and Chloe Pahl, all of Green Bay. Wisconsin skip Joy Pahl evaluated the game:"We got sharper as the game went along. It took awhile to get our weight. Our game plan was to try to set up ends to give them tough take outs, because they are great draw team. We did succeed in that. I'm not sure who I'd rather play in the final-they are both fine teams."(Wisconsin beat both Minnesota and Illinois in round robin play.) Line score: MD 010 002 0XX X 3 WI* 101 410 4XX X 11 (7) Men's semi-finals: In a game marked by lots of rocks in play and big momentum swings, the Minnesota men took a 7-2 lead into the mid-game break. Illinois came back with a deuce and two steals of one to come within one, and looked good for another steal in the ninth end. Illinois skip Jeff Wright saw his last draw for a second count slide through the house, giving Minnesota skip Reuben Harris the chance for a terrific angle raise takeout for three points. He made it spot on. Harris explained his choice of a very hard shot for three versus a draw to the four foot for one:"On that shot we figured we either win the game by getting three, or (if I miss) come home tied with (the hammer). Harris plays an aggressive game and says,"Our strategy was to go for the four foot and make them chase. They got their draw weight later which kept them in the game."Asked about the upcoming final, Harris remarked,"We owe Wisconsin, this is payback. It's our turn! The ice here is beautiful."Team Minnesota curls out of the St. Paul Curling Club and includes Harris (of St. Paul), Matthew Peterson (Plymouth), Aaron Nunberg (St. Paul) and Zac Owens (Vadnais Heights). Wright (of Libertyville, Ill.) of the Exmoor Curling Club, skips for Nils Johansson (Highland Park), Russ Brown (Lake Forest) and Ken Brown (Deefield). Line score: MN* 302 020 003 X 10 IL 010 102 110 X 6 Wisconsin beat North Dakota 10-6 by taking game control (after struggling early to find their weight) in the seventh end with a steal of two points, when it had looked like North Dakota might get three or four, then missed their last two shots with"wrecks"off guards. The steal seemed to sap North Dakota, and they gave up another two in the eighth to go down by four. Richard Maskel, of Dave Brown's Wisconsin 1 men's team, is in his 19th playoff at a USCA national championship. When asked if this had made him less nervous than, say, his 5th playoff, he confirmed,"Yes, less."Maskel is from Green Bay, but curls at the Madison Curling Club with Brown (of Fitchberg), Kraig Deeren (Madison), Kroy Nernberger (Madison) and Wally Henry, who subbed in four games while Kroy and Kraig took care of college classwork. North Dakota represents the Williston Basin Curling Club, and includes Rick Tangedal (of Williston), Rory Wolter (Williston), Brent Overland (White Earth) and Karl Merk (Williston). Maskel predicted a tough game in their final:"We'll likely play a little conservative to start. We've been pushing the clock a little, so will be watching carefully. We have great respect for the Harris rink."Line score: WI* 002 101 220 2 10 ND 120 010 002 0 6 The consensus of the players is that the ice and rocks at the Mankato Curling club are excellent. This converts to great shooting, like a well-manicured gold course. The U.S. Club Nationals, now in its fourth year, does not lead to the World Championships, rather rewards the top same-club league-playing team in the U.S. The winners of the recent U.S. National Championships in Hibbing represent the U.S. at the Worlds. Final round robin standings: (Q = semi-finals qualifier, 1 v.4, 2 v.3) Women: Wisconsin (Pahl) 7-2Q1 Illinois (Lawless) 7-2Q2 Minnesota (O'Leary) 7-2Q3 Maryland (Drummie) 6-3Q4 North Dakota 2 (Jaster) 5-4 New York (Meechai) 3-6 North Dakota 1 (Bohlman)4-5 Arizona (Tait) 2-7 Texas (Willingham) 2-7 Ohio (Festersen) 2-7 Men: Wisconsin 1 (Brown) 8-1Q1 Minnesota (Harris) 7-2Q2 Illinois (Wright) 6-3Q3 North Dakota (Tangedal) 6-3Q4 Washington (Rasmussen) 5-4 Maryland (Edie) 4-5 Oregon (Schaak) 4-5 Ohio (Cohen) 3-6 Wisconsin 2 (Journeaux) 2-7 Colorado (Gleeson) 0-9 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).