Plys wins fourth straight junior men's title, Minnesota's Carlson wins first at 2009 US Junior Nationals

Feb. 17, 2009, 11:07 a.m. (ET)
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Feb. 14, 2009) - It was a Minnesota sweep of the gold medals Saturday afternoon at the 2009 USA Curling Junior National Championships at the Lake Region Curling Club in Devils Lake, N.D.

Minnesota I's Chris Plys rink defeated Minnesota II's Aaron Wald, 10-5, to capture the men's title and earn the chance to defend the world title they won together in 2008. Minnesota I's Alexandra Carlson defeated Wisconsin I's Nina Spatola, 8-2, to win their first junior women's title. The win was bittersweet for Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.) and teammates Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (Duluth, Minn.) after losing last year's final to Spatola, 6-4.

This is the second straight junior men's title for Plys and teammates Aanders Brorson (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Perushek (Eveleth, Minn.) and Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), third straight for Plys, Brorson and Perushek, and fourth straight - and fifth overall - for Plys, a USA Curling record.

The Plys rink started today's match against Wald (Chisholm, Minn.) and teammates Josh Bahr (Bemidji, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.) and John Muller (Hibbing, Minn.) much like last night's 1-2 page playoff game - with four points. Wald responded with a single and a steal to stay in the game but Plys would mimic him in the following two ends to build a 6-2 lead at the half-way point. The teams exchanged deuces over the next two ends as Wald tried to keep pace. But, Plys forced Wald to a single in the eighth end and sealed the win with a deuce in the ninth.

The Carlson-Spatola match also was reminiscent of the 1-2 page playoff match last night, with Carlson applying pressuring to force multiple steals from Spatola's team. After a slow start, the teams exchanged singles to tie the game after three ends. A deuce by Carlson in the fourth end was followed up with steals in the next three ends to pull ahead 8-1 after seven ends of play. Spatola would score just a single in the eighth end and concede the victory to Carlson's squad.

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

Both Wald and Spatola had to play earlier today in the semifinals just to get to the final. The impact of back-to-back games could have factored into their play in the finals. Wald defeated Wisconsin II's Blake Morton rink, 8-4, to advance to the final. Morton (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Marcus Fonger (Cottage Grove, Wis.), Tommy Juszczyk (McFarland, Wis.) and Tom Gabower (Janesville, Wis.) go home with the bronze medal in the team's first junior nationals appearance. Spatola defeated in-state rival Miranda Schieber, 8-2, to advance to the women's final. This was the first year Schieber (Portage, Wis.) and teammates Karlie Koenig (Oconomowoc, Wis.), Leila Smith (Andover, Mass.) and Jenna Haag (Milton, Wis.) played together and they earn the bronze, as well. Koenig and Haag won the title last year with Spatola and finished eighth at the World Juniors.

Final scores from the 2009 Junior Nationals can be found online at Click on the scoreboard link from there.

Line Scores

Men's Championship Final
Minnesota II (Wald) 011 002 010 x 5
*Minnesota I (Plys) 400 110 202 x 10

Women's Championship Final
Wisconsin I (Spatola) 001 000 01x x 2
*Minnesota I (Carlson) 010 212 20x X 8
*last rock advantage in first end

Gold Medalists
* Minnesota 1: Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Aanders Brorson (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Perushek (Eveleth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Coach Phill Drobnick (Duluth, Minn.)
* Minnesota 1: Alexandra Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Sophie Brorson (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Kent Brorson (Duluth, Minn.)

Silver Medalists
* Minnesota 2: Aaron Wald (Chisholm, Minn.), Josh Bahr (Bemidji, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), John Muller (Hibbing, Minn.), Coach Timothy Muller (Hibbing, Minn.)
* Wisconsin 1: Nina Spatola (McFarland, Wis.), Molly Bonner (Virginia, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Anna Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Lisa Schoeneberg (Monona, Wis.)

Bronze Medalists
* Wisconsin 2: Blake Morton (McFarland, Wis.), Marcus Fonger (Cottage Grove, Wis.), Tommy Juszczyk (McFarland, Wis.), Tom Gabower (Janesville, Wis.), Coach Ed Sheffield (Madison, Wis.)
* Wisconsin 2: Miranda Schieber (Portage, Wis.), Karlie Koenig (Oconomowoc, Wis.), Leila Smith (Andover, Mass.), Jenna Haag (Milton, Wis.), Coach Rusty Schieber (Portage, Wis.)