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USA Curling

2006 Olympians Schultz, Brunt begin next step to qualify for Olympic Team Trials

Jan. 30, 2009, 10:39 a.m. (ET)

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Jan. 29, 2009) - Six women's teams are battling for the final four berths available to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling next month in Colorado as action opened up tonight at the Challenge Round at the Green Bay (Wis.) Curling Club.

Aileen Sormunen's team, featuring 2006 Olympians Jessica Schultz and Maureen Brunt (both of Minneapolis) got things started by earning a 7-3 win over Sandra McMakin's East Coast team.

Cristin Clark's Seattle-based team needed an extra end to earn a 6-4 win over Margie Smith's Minnesota team. Clark and teammates Sharon Vukich, Emily Good, Katy Sharpe and Gabrielle Coleman scored a single in the final end of regulation to force the extra frame. They then were able to earn the win with a steal.

Amy Wright's team from the Duluth Curling Club also got in the win column after defeating Lori Karst, 9-4.

In men's action tonight, John Shuster improved to 5-0 setting up a key showdown tomorrow morning with Greg Romaniuk's team, which also is 5-0. Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Jason Smith (Cape Coral, Fla.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.) and John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) handed Craig Brown's team its first loss with a single in the extra end for a 10-9 win.

Pete Fenson's team teetered on the brink of dropping its third mark in the loss column but squeaked out a steal in the 10th end to defeat Jason Larway's Seattle team. Both the Fenson and Larway rinks are 3-2.

The Matt Hames team earned its first win of the tournament with an 8-2 defeat of the winless Brandon Corbett rink. Hames and teammates Matt Mielke, Bill Stopera and Dean Gemmell scored four points in the fourth end to take a commanding 5-2 lead and added a steal of two in the next end to shut down last year's junior national runners-up.

Craig Disher's North Dakota team improved to 3-1 with an 8-5 defeat of Bryan Wight's team. The loss drops Wight to 1-4.

The men's teams return to the ice at 8:30 a.m. Friday while the women begin at 1 p.m. as the round robin continues. The top four teams at the end of the round robin advance directly to the 2010 Olympic Team Trials, joining the other 12 teams that qualified earlier this month.

The USA-Brazil Challenge for the berth in the 2009 World Men's featuring USA's Todd Birr rink gets underway Friday night.

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

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

Women's standings:
Cristin Clark 1-0
Aileen Sormunen 1-0
Amy Wright 1-0
Lori Karst 0-1
Sandra McMakin 0-1
Margie Smith 0-1

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

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