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Curling: Tiebreakers loom at 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifying round

Jan. 11, 2009, 2:24 a.m. (ET)

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - With six direct berths to the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team Trials available this weekend at the qualifying round it isn't surprising that numerous tiebreaker games are looming at the four men's regionals across the U.S.

Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Dunlop (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Pete Annis (Owatonna, Minn.) handed 2006 Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster his first loss of the Midwest South regional, 12-6. These two teams will play again in a tiebreaker to determine first place in Pool A of their division since both teams have just one loss. The top two teams in each pool at this qualifier advance to the playoffs to determine which teams earns the direct berth to the Olympic Trials. In Pool B, the 2008 world junior gold medalists led by Chris Plys and Dan Lilla's Wisconsin team also will play a tiebreaker to determine the playoff finalist. The second-place teams in each pool will play for one of the two available Challenge Round berths.

At the Midwest North qualifier at the Itasca Curling Club in Grand Rapids, Minn., 2006 Olympian Scott Baird (Bemidji, Minn.) leads the pack with a perfect 5-0 record after handing Tyler George's team its first loss today, 10-5. The top team qualifies directly to next month's Olympic team Trials while the second-place team heads to the Challenge Round later this month.

Jason Larway's team remains undefeated at the West regional in Seattle after handing fellow Granite Curling Club members Mark Johnson, Wes Johnson, Brady Clark and Ken Trask a 6-5 loss to put themselves in the driver's seat. The top team at this regional qualifies directly to the Olympic Trials while one berth is available to the Challenge Round.

At the 22-team regional out East, tiebreakers loom tonight to determine who plays for the direct berths and who plays for the challenge round spots. The winner of each pool advances to the playoffs while the second-place teams in each pool play off for the four available challenge round spots.

With a two-loss provision within each pool, Todd Birr and Matt Hames will play each other in back-to-back games after Birr defeated Hames this afternoon, 9-3, to remain undefeated. The same scenario plays out in Pool C with Mike Farbelow (4-0) and Derek Surka (3-1) playing a tiebreaker tonight.

Kraig Deeren's team advances to the playoff round after winning Pool D with a perfect 4-0 record. But, three teams tied at 2-2 meaning they'll play off to determine the team to play for a challenge round berth. In the messiest pool, three teams are tied for first place - Bryan Wight, Pete Fenson and Dennis Mellerup. The other three teams in that pool are eliminated from earning any berth. Since head-to-head couldn't determine which team sits out of the first tiebreaker between Wight, Fenson and Mellerup, draw shot distance scores were used to seed the teams. Wight earned the bye and will play the winner of the tiebreaker between Fenson and Mellerup later tonight.

Standings

East (The Country Club regional):
Pool A:
**Bryan Wight 4-1
**Pete Fenson 4-1
**Dennis Mellerup 4-1
Kent Beadle 2-3
Jason Valettuto 1-4
Richard VanCuyck 0-5

Pool B:
**Todd Birr 5-0
**Matt Hames 4-1
Grayland Cousins 3-2
Greg Jorgensen 2-3
Ron Mantha 1-4
Robert Melville 0-5

Pool C:
**Mike Farbelow 4-0
**Derek Surka 3-1
Stuart Graves 2-2
Russ Armstrong 1-3
Jay Saltmarsh 0-4

Pool D:
Kraig Deeren 4-0
Alex Leichter 2-2
Derek Corbett 2-2
Scott Edie 2-2
Bart Read 0-4

Midwest North (Itasca regional):
Scott Baird 5-0
Tyler George 4-1
Craig Disher 4-1
Greg Persinger 2-3
Eric Fenson 2-3
Aaron Wald 2-3
Andy Borland 1-4
Al Gulseth 0-5

Midwest South (Centerville regional):
Pool A:
**Craig Brown 4-1
**John Shuster 4-1
Jeff Wright 3-2
Bill Morehouse 2-3
Mike Fraboni 2-3
David Geake 0-5

Pool B:
**Chris Plys 3-1
**Dan Lilla 3-1
Greg Romaniuk 2-2
Jay Packard 1-3
Chad Anderson 1-3

West (Seattle regional):
Jason Larway 5-0
Mark Johnson 4-1
Murray Beighton 4-1
Doug Schaak 3-2
Mike Calcagno 2-3
Clark Raven 1-4
Jerry VanBrunt 1-4
Billy Reynolds 0-5

**double knockout provision, tiebreaker must be played until one team has two losses within pool

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

For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, terry.kolesar@usacurl.org.