2006 Olympian John Shuster undefeated at 2009 Challenge Round

Jan. 29, 2009, 7:11 p.m. (ET)
(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - 2006 Olympian John Shuster helped his team improve to 4-0 Thursday afternoon and inch closer to earning a berth to next month's 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.) and John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) defeated Brandon Corbett's New York junior team, 7-6, with a single in the 10th end to secure the win at the Capital Curling Club in Bismarck, N.D.

Greg Romaniuk's team won their fifth straight and will enjoy a night off as they eclipsed the half-way point of the tournament today with a 6-3 victory over the Matt Hames rink. Technically, the Romaniuk squad wasn't even supposed to be here playing but earned the snuck in the back door when Greg Persinger's team from Alaska opted out of the Challenge Round. That spot could be filled by an eligible team that played on the World Curling Tour and finished in the Top 10 among U.S. teams. Romaniuk (Snohomish, Wash.) and teammates Doug Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Leon Romaniuk (Kirkland, Wash.) and Troy Schroeder (Plymouth, Minn.) used pivotal steals to knock off the Hames rink, which fell to 0-4.

Jason Larway's team improved to 3-1 with a 9-7 victory over the winless Dan Lilla rink from Wisconsin. Trailing at the midway point, Larway (Lynnwood, Wash.) and teammates Colin Hufman (Seattle), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.) and Bill Todhunter (Menasha, Wis.) scored four points in the sixth end, stole a single and cruised to their third straight win.

Bryan Wight's team picked up its first win with a 5-4 defeat of Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.). At the qualifying round earlier this month, Wight's team had Fenson's number then too, defeating them twice during the tournament. With the game tied 1-1 after four ends, Fenson's rink gave up a steal of one in the fifth end and a back-breaking steal of three to leave them chasing for points. They'd come up one short and fall to 2-2 in the standings. After the round robin, the top four teams earn the final berths to next month's Olympic Trials.

The men return to the ice at 7 tonight. The women's Challenge Round from the Green Bay (Wis.) Curling Club begins at 7 as well. The USA-Brazil Challenge for the berth in the 2009 World Men's Championship featuring USA's Todd Birr rink gets underway at 7 p.m. Friday in Bismarck.

Live scoring of the Challenge Round and the Brazil-USA Challenge can be found at www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks.

Line scores: Larway 9, Lilla 7; Shuster 7, Corbett 6; Wight 5, Fenson 4; Romaniuk 6, Hames 3

Standings:
Greg Romaniuk 5-0
John Shuster 4-0
Craig Brown 3-0
Jason Larway 3-1
Craig Disher 2-1
Pete Fenson 2-2
Bryan Wight 1-3
Brandon Corbett 0-4
Matt Hames 0-4
Dan Lilla 0-5

USA Curling is sponsored by Kodiak Technology Group, AIT Worldwide Logistics and Nike.
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