CURLING: Minnesota women, Wisconsin men win USCA Club National Chamnpionships

March 08, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 8, 2008 Minnesota women, Wisconsin men win USCA Club National Chamnpionships (STEVENS POINT, Wis.) Curlers from the Duluth (Minn.) and Madison (Wis.) Curling Clubs won national club championships today in Mankato, Minn. Illinois curlers from the Exmoor Curling Club in Highland Park swept the bronze medals. Women's gold medal final: Wisconsin's young team jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but the veterans from Minnesota overcame that deficit as well as some serious adversity earlier in the week, to win 9-6. Minnesota's second, Mary Johnson, lost her father last week, and she missed Monday's game earlier this week. Skip Norma O'Leary's father spent a few days in the hospital earlier in the week, but is OK. In addition, the Duluth women went into the final wondering if they could overcome their history of superb round robin play followed by losses in the past three Club Nationals semi-finals or finals (twice). Their mental toughness and persistence paid off, as they edged their way back via a single and four steals before Wisconsin got back on track with a single in the ninth end. In the tenth end, both teams made nice come around shots, and in addition Minnesota played two excellent run backs, the second one a run back double, with a coupe de grace delivered by vice skip Pam Cavers' triple takeout, which ended any realistic chance for Wisconsin to steal and go to an extra end. Cavers was emotional after the win."After the near misses in the past three years and the subsequent frustrations, now the pressure is off because we know we can win the big game. We feel relief and are happy. And now very tired! Mary's father died last Thursday. Norma's dad was in hospital too, but OK now. We went through some extra stress and adversity, including a funeral, so Mary missed Monday's game, we played three-handed against Arizona. Mary played her heart out all week."Patti Luke is the Minnesota lead. All are from Duluth except O'Leary, who is from Silver Bay. Joy Pahl skips Wisconsin's Erin Wallace, Kimberly Rhyme and her daughter Chloe Pahl. All live in Green Bay. The latter three are in their mid-teens. They play with terrific poise and were praised all week by their opponents. Women's gold line score: WI* 302 000 001 0 6 MN 010 112 110 2 9 Women's bronze medal game: In an offensive battle, Illinois beat Maryland for the bronze medal, 12-10. Both teams hit big ends in the first half of the game. A sixth end double take out by Illinois skip Tracy Lawless stymied Maryland's attempt to even up the score. Both teams kept rocks in play and the game had lots of angles, raises, tap backs attempted. Maryland got back into contention with a steal of two in the ninth end. Both skips missed chances to lock up a win in the tenth end. In the extra frame, Illinois got to the four foot under cover, and the shot stood up for the win. The Illinois team, from the Exmoor Curling Club in Highland Park, includes Lawless (of Hawthorn Woods), and Amy Brown (Deerfield), Leslie Earls (Lake Bluff) and Deborah Moulton (Lake Forest). Maryland skip Ann Drummie (Washington, D.C.), of the Potomac Curling Club team (Laurel, Md.) curls with Joan Twigg (Severna Park, Md.), Rachel Treesh (Silver Spring, Md.) and Rachel Bayerle (Alexandria, Va.). Women's bronze line score: MD 051 100 012 0 10 IL 400 041 200 1 12 Men's gold medal final: Wisconsin jumped out strong with three points in the first end and a steal of two in the second, then played steadily to foil Minnesota's rocks-in-play game. Minnesota skip Reuben Harris orchestrated a deuce in the seventh end, but it did not develop into a rally. It was the Madison Curling Clubs game, they even"won"the only measure, in the ninth end, which turned out to be a rare"no decision,"resulting in a blank end, meaning Wisconsin kept the hammer in the 10th, three up, and ran the St. Paul Curling Club team out of rocks to win the title. Wisconsin skip Dave Brown (of Fitchberg), reviewed the game:"Our early jump just worked out-they had a couple of misses, maybe just a little wrong ice. We just tried to keep our rocks spread out after they missed. We have exceptional hitters, who have soft touch when needed and are great sweepers. We made the draws against two or three when we needed to. I haven't skipped competitively since about 1995. We decided to enter this event just prior to the entry deadline. Madison is a great club to curl out of. We get lots of good competition against teams there who have veterans of World Championships. Wally (Henry) was great on short notice-a great veteran who can help calm a team. There were many great teams here and at the Wisconsin playdown. Give my teammates the credit!"Those teammates are Madison Curling Club players Richard Maskel (Green Bay), Kraig Deeren (Madison), Kroy Nernberger (Madison) and Henry of Madison, who subbed in four games while Kroy and Kraig took care of college class work. (Henry's daughter is 2003 World Women's champion skip Debbie McCormick. Henry will coach his daughter's team at Worlds in a few weeks.)"We fought hard, but got in a hole early with several missed shots and one pick,"recounted Minnesota skip Reuben Harris. 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). Men's final line score: MN* 001 000 210 0 4 WI1* 320 011 000 1 8 Men's bronze medal game: Illinois bombed North Dakota 9-2 in 4 ends to win the men's bronze. After taking four in the second end and five in the fourth, against two singles, North Dakota skip Rick Tangedal conceded at the end of a long week. The Illinois medalists, from the Exmoor Curling Club of Highland Park, are skip Jeff Wright (of Libertyville, Ill.), Nils Johansson (Highland Park), Russ Brown (Lake Forest) and Ken Brown (Deerfield). North Dakota represents the Williston Basin Curling Club, and includes Tangedal, Rory Wolter, Brent Overland and Karl Merk (all of Williston except Overland, of White Earth). Men's bronze line score: ND 101 0XX XXX X 2 IL 040 5XX XXX X 9 (4 ends) Event co-chairs Todd Birr and Kim Rheaume officiated at the on-ice Awards Ceremony immediately after the finals. 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).