Minnesota's Wald clinches spot in 1-2 playoff game at 2009 US Junior Nationals

Feb. 12, 2009, 5:52 p.m. (ET)
STEVENS POINT, Wis. - By virtue of the draw schedule, Minnesota's Aaron Wald finished the round robin early and can now sit back and wait to see who they'll play in Friday's Page Playoff 1-2 game after finishing the round robin with an 8-1 record Thursday at the 2009 USA Curling Junior National Championships at the Lake Region Curling Club in Devils Lake, N.D.

Wald (Chisholm, Minn.) and teammates Josh Bahr (Bemidji, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.) and John Muller (Hibbing, Minn.) can return home to Minnesota with no less than a bronze medal when the event unfolds Saturday afternoon. By earning a spot in the 1-2 game, they have two chances to be in the championship final.

With a 6-1 record, defending champion Chris Plys has secured a playoff berth of some sort. If he finishes 8-1, he'll be playing alongside fellow Minnesotan Wald. He'd need to drop both of his last games to drop down to the 3-4 page playoff game since the next team in the standings already has three losses.

That team is Sean Beighton's Washington rink, which improved to 5-3 with a 9-3 win over North Dakota I's Jerod Roland rink. Beighton (Edmonds, Wash.) and teammates Derrick McLean (Bothell, Wash.), Sam Galey (Seattle) and Joe Purvis (Kenmore, Wash.) quickly jumped out against Roland's team, building a 4-0 lead after two ends and then scored three more points in the fourth end to pull away for good. The loss drops Roland to 4-4 and in fifth place in the standings. Blake Morton's Wisconsin II rink picked up its fifth win this morning to slide into the fourth spot. They'll have to sit and watch the round robin finish up to see if they earn a playoff spot outright or are forced to play a tiebreaker game to earn it.

On the women's side, Nina Spatola ousted Alexandra Carlson, 9-1, this afternoon to propel into first place in the standings at 7-1. Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Molly Bonner (Virginia, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) and Anna Plys (Duluth, Minn.) kept Carlson's team off the scoreboard until the fifth end after building a six-point edge. Both teams have locked up a playoff spot but whether it is in the 1-2 or 3-4 page playoff game is left to be determined.

Wisconsin II's Miranda Schieber also has secured a playoff berth after holding off Miranda Solem's Minnesota II team, 10-5, in a match-up featuring sisters playing on opposite sides. Solem's lead, Alexandra Schieber, is the little sister of Miranda. The elder Schieber would improve to 6-2 in the standings, however, while Solem's team dropped to 4-4.

It took an extra end but Amanda Tucker's Massachusetts rink held off Ann Podoll's North Dakota II rink, 8-7. Earlier today North Dakota I's Lauren Kirkeby slid past Alaska's Kaye Hufman to improve to 4-4 and stay in the thick of the playoff hunt. Hannah Elko led her Illinois team to a 12-3 win over New York's Katlyn Beebe.

Live scoring of the 2009 Junior Nationals can be found online at www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks. Click on the scoreboard link from there.

The winning teams will represent the U.S. at the 2009 World Junior Championships, March 5-15 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Game Scores

8 a.m. - Women: Illinois 12, New York 3; North Dakota I 8, Alaska 7
8 a.m. - Men: Wisconsin II 6, Massachusetts 3; Minnesota II 3, North Dakota II 1
12 p.m. - Women: Wisconsin II 10, Minnesota II 5; Massachusetts 8, North Dakota II 7; Wisconsin I 9, Minnesota I 1
12 p.m. - Men: Washington 9, North Dakota I 3

Standings

MEN
*Minnesota II (Wald) 8-1
*Minnesota I (Plys) 6-1
Washington (Beighton) 5-3
Wisconsin II (Morton) 5-4
North Dakota I (Roland) 4-4
Massachusetts (Leichter) 3-4
Alaska (Birklid) 2-5
New Hampshire (Clark) 2-5
Wisconsin I (Caldwell) 2-5
North Dakota II (Workin) 1-6

WOMEN
*Wisconsin I (Spatola) 7-1
*Minnesota I (Carlson) 7-1
*Wisconsin II (Schieber) 6-2
Minnesota II (Solem) 4-4
New York (Beebe) 4-4
North Dakota I (Kirkeby) 4-4
Illinois (Elko) 3-5
Massachusetts (Tucker) 3-5
Alaska (Hufman) 1-7
North Dakota II (Podoll) 1-7
*Clinched playoff spot
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