St. Paul set to host Jr Nationals Challenge Round

Dec. 22, 2016, 4:59 p.m. (ET)

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For Immediate Release

Dec. 22, 2016

Junior Nationals Challenge Round begins Wednesday in St. Paul

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – The final berths to the upcoming USA Curling Junior National Championships will be up for grabs as the St. Paul Curling Club hosts the West Junior Nationals Challenge Round Dec. 28-31 in St. Paul, Minn.

The West Challenge Round competition gets underway Wednesday afternoon at the eight-sheet club in St. Paul. The competing eight men’s and eight women’s teams will play a full round robin (if necessary, tiebreaker games to be played). The top four men’s and top five women’s from the event will earn the final berths to the Junior Nationals. Seven teams have already qualified to the Nationals from the East Challenge Round.

Eight men’s and eight women’s teams will compete at the 2017 USA Curling Junior National Championships Jan. 15-21 at the Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club in Fargo, N.D. The qualifying format changed this year from strict regionality to wide-open qualifiers in the East and West, which should make things even more competitive in Fargo as the best teams in the nation face off.

While eight teams in each gender is down from the 10 previously featured in the Junior nationals, the addition of the new U18 National Championships seems to be serving its purpose of providing a regionally-based event to help develop the pipeline of younger athletes. There are currently 18 women’s and 16 men’s teams registered for U18 playdowns. Combining these numbers with the overall Junior National Championship entries, and comparing it with 2016 registration numbers, there are 10 more junior-aged women’s teams signed up across the two events, and just two fewer junior-aged men’s teams, with seven regions still open for U18 registrations through Jan. 4.

The West Challenge Round features 2016 Junior Nationals champion Madison Bear (Pardeeville, Wis.), who won last year in the lead position with Cory Christensen and is now skipping her own team, which includes 2016 Youth Olympic Games silver medalists Cora Farrell (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Cait Flannery (Mankato, Minn.). Lexi Lanigan (Duluth, Minn.) and Rebecca Miles (Duluth, Minn.) round out the team, which is part of the USA Curling Junior High Performance Program. The women’s field also features last year’s Junior Nationals runners-up Melissa Runing (North Mankato, Minn.) and Alyson Deegan (St. Peter, Minn.), who are teamed up with Emily Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.) and Taylor Drees (Grand Forks, N.D.) this year.

In the men’s division, several teams have prior Junior Nationals experience. Andrew Stopera’s USA Curling Junior High Performance Program team has had a strong season to date. Stopera (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.) led his team to a bronze medal at last year’s Junior Nationals, which also included 2016 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) silver medalist Luc Violette (Issaquah, Wash.). Their team is rounded out by Violette’s fellow YOG teammate Ben Richardson (Issaquah, Wash.) and Graem Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), youngest son of 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Pete Fenson.

The men’s field also features three athletes who skipped during last year’s championship, including Riley Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), Joshua Moore (Mapleton, Minn.) and Timothy Hodek (Fairdale, N.D.), who is playing vice skip for Skyler Slusar this season.

A live webstream of the Challenge Round as well as live scoring will be available throughout the championship at www.usacurl.org. The competition schedule also can be found online at http://go.teamusa.org/2g5o9U6.

Here is a look at the competing teams in the hunt to secure spots to the 2017 USA Curling Junior National Championships:

Women:

Team Bear: Madison Bear (Pardeeville, Wis.), Cora Farrell (Fairbanks, Alaska), Cait Flannery (Mankato, Minn.), Lexi Lanigan (Duluth, Minn.), Rebecca Miles (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Bill Rhyme (Green Bay, Wis.)

Team Kitchens: Abbey Kitchens (Devils Lake, N.D.), Sara Hodek (Fairdale, N.D.), Sydney Steffen (Devils Lake, N.D.), Eva Sobak (Fairdale, N.D.), Coach Jon Mielke (Bismarck, N.D.)

Team Normandeau: Anya Normadeau (Burnsville, Minn.), Sydney Warch (St. Paul, Minn.), Anna Netteberg (Roseville, Minn.), Mairin Barrett (Woodbury, Minn.), Coach Guy Normandeau (Burnsville, Minn.)

Team Page: Mackenzie Page (Mankato, Minn.), Hallie Hicks (Mapleton, Minn.), Abigail Page (Mankato, Minn.), Emily Jaeger (Mapleton, Minn.), Coach Cole Jaeger (Mapleton, Minn.)

Team Podoll: Beth Podoll (Fargo, N.D.), Emily Martin (West Fargo, N.D.), Saige Thurlow (Fargo, N.D.), Miranda Scheel (Fargo, N.D.), Coach Frank Podoll (Fargo, N.D.)

Team Quello: Emily Quello, Hannah Kroeger, Leah Yavarow, Mackenzie Ritchie, Coach Kent Bahr (all of Bemidji, Minn.)

Team Runing: Melissa Runing (North Mankato, Minn.), Emily Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.), Taylor Drees (Grand Forks, N.D.), Alyson Deegan (St. Peter, Minn.), Coach Shawn Runing (North Mankato, Minn.)

Team Traxler: Ariel Traxler (Fairbanks, Alaska), Sidney Schroeder (Midland, Mich.), Anne O’Hara (Fairbanks, Alaska), Naimy Schommer (Fairbanks, Alaska), Coach Leland Rich (Fairbanks, Alaska)

Men:

Team Altus: Daniel Altus (Campbell, Calif.), Marc Tsogbe (Oakland, Calif.), Jimmy Williams (Oakland, Calif.), Jason Altus (Campbell, Calif.), Coach TC Altus (Campbell, Calif.)

Team Clasen: Jack Clasen (Roseville, Minn.), Dylan Barrett (Woodbury, Minn.), Samuel Clasen (Roseville, Minn.), Joshua Proehl (Spicer, Minn.), Coach Mike Barrett (Woodbury, Minn.)

Team Fenson: Riley Fenson, Zachary Erickson, Carson Liapis, Noah Leinen, Coach Eric Fenson (all of Bemidji, Minn.)

Team Moore: Joshua Moore (Mapleton, Minn.), Eric Jaeger (Mapleton, Minn.), Derek Moore (Mapleton, Minn.), Jonathon Harstad (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Joel Moore (Mapleton, Minn.)

Team Parry: Nathan Parry (Littleton, Colo.), Kaden Osterhaus (Dalton, Wis.), Matthew Martin (West Fargo, N.D.), Clay Osterhaus (Dalton, Wis.), Coach Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.)

Team Slusar: Skyler Slusar (Hallock, Minn.), Timothy Hodek (Fairdale, N.D.), John Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.), Ethan Sampson (Edmore, N.D.), Coach Owen Sampson (Edmore, N.D.)

Team Stopera: Andrew Stopera (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.), Luc Violette (Issaquah, Wash.), Ben Richardson (Issaquah, Wash.), Graem Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), Coach Mark Lazar (Toledo, Ohio)

Team Thompson: Charlie Thompson (Eau Claire, Wis.), Kevin Tuma (St. Paul, Minn.), Michael Mattson (Gilbert, Minn.), Austin Bengtson (Spicer, N.D.), Ryan Marriott (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Coach Jeff Thompson (Eau Claire, Wis.)

Here is a look at the seven teams already qualified to compete in the 2017 USA Curling Junior National Championships:

Women:

Team Cousins: Elizabeth Cousins (Medfield, Mass.), Rane Anderson (Downington, Pa.), Sailor Anderson (Downington, Pa.), Sydney Mullaney (Concord, Mass.), Coach Grayland Cousins (Medfield, Mass.)

Team Dubberstein: Annmarie Dubberstein (Portage, Wis.), Christine McMakin (St. Paul, Minn.), Jenna Burchesky (Walpole, Mass.), Allison Howell (Solon, Ohio), Coach Bev Schroeder (Stevens Point, Wis.)

Team Dudt: Susan Dudt (Malvern, Pa.), Sarah Ogawa (Broomall, Pa.), Katherine Gourianova (Potomac, Md.), Nadezhda Tschumakow (Boston), Coach Leslie Dudt (Malvern, Pa.)

Men:

Team Clawson: Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), Cody Clouser (Berwyn, Pa.), Caleb Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), Andrew Dunnam (Dresher, Pa.), Coach Wayne Anderson (Broomall, Pa.)

Team Connolly: Nicholas Connolly (Seattle), Branden Scheel (Fargo, N.D.), Aaron Carlson (East Lansing, Mich.), Andrew Dudt (Malvern, Pa.), Coach Brian Dudt (Malvern, Pa.)

Team Sinnett: Chase Sinnett (Medfield, Mass.), Eli Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), Andrew Gittis (Exton, Pa.), Daniel Casper (Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.), Coach David Sinnett (Medfield, Mass.)

Team Steinhaus: Nick Steinhaus (Mapleton, Minn.), John Paul Munich (Oconomowoc, Wis.), Joshua Heimerl (Green Bay, Wis.), Mitch Wilson (Delafield, Wis.), Coach Ryan Kernosky (Wisconsin)

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, Brakebush, Jet Ice, Ki Mobility, and Skills.com, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, Hilton HHonors, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, and CurlingZone.

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For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile) or 715-344-1199, Ext. 202 (office).