Illinois and North Dakota advance to mixed championship final

By Terry Kolesar | March 21, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 21, 2014

Illinois, North Dakota advance to final at 2014 USA Curling Mixed National Championship

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - In curling's version of March Madness, Illinois and North Dakota survived tonight's semifinals at the 2014 USA Curling Mixed National Championship at the South Wood County Recreational Center in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to move on to tomorrow's gold-medal game. Both semifinal winners were the higher seeds coming into the semifinals as they pulled off the upsets.

Greg Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.) led his Illinois team of Pam Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.), Collin Rittgers (Highland Park, Ill.), and Michele Rittgers (Highland Park, Ill.) took down nine-time mixed champion Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), 12-7, with a huge ninth end to advance to the final. They'll face Al Gulseth's North Dakota team of Nicole Reiser (Mandan, N.D.), Mark Gulseth (Frazee, Minn.), and Patty Olesen (Fargo, N.D.) at 1 p.m. North Dakota got past Wisconsin's Sean Murray rink, 7-3. Washington and Wisconsin will battle for bronze, also at 1 p.m.

Illinois was in a 6-3 deficit after six ends but stole four points in the seventh end and then scored five in the ninth end to earn their spot in the final.

Gulseth's North Dakota squad took a more modest approach in taking a 3-2 lead with a deuce in the fourth end and then taking advantage of steal opportunities in the seventh and eighth end to earn the win. 

The last time a team from North Dakota won the mixed national title was 2008 while Illinois has endured a 27-year drought since their last title in 1987. 

Live scores, courtesy of USA Curling's partner CurlingZone, will be available throughout the playoffs at 

Line scores, semifinals:
*Washington 202 020 010 x - 7 
Illinois 010 101 405 x - 12 

Wisconsin 002 010 00x x - 3 
*North Dakota  100 201 12x x - 7 
*last rock in first end

Gold-medal game:
No. 3 seed, North Dakota: Al Gulseth (Moorhead, Minn.), Nicole Reiser (Mandan, N.D.), Mark Gulseth (Frazee, Minn.), Patty Olesen (Fargo, N.D.)

No. 4 seed, Illinois: Greg Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.), Pam Wilson (Vernon Hills, Ill.), Collin Rittgers (Highland Park, Ill.), Michele Rittgers (Highland Park, Ill.)

Bronze-medal game:

No. 1 seed, Washington: Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Cristin Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Derrick McLean (Bothell, Wash.), Bev Hale (Seattle)

No. 2, seed, Wisconsin: Sean Murray (Hartland, Wis.), Heather Betzhold (Hartland, Wis.), Mike Graziano (St. Paul, Minn.), Paige Caulum (Middleton, Wis.)


USA Curling is sponsored by AtomAmpd, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Sitrin, and The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, and is partnered with Hilton, United Airlines, RJM Licensing Inc., and CurlingZone.

For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling,, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).

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