Team Clark sweeps up national title

By Terry L. Davis | Feb. 13, 2016, 9:45 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 13, 2016

Brady Clark rink wins 2016 National Men’s Championship title

(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Seattle’s Brady Clark rink won the men’s final of the 2016 USA Curling National Championships in convincing fashion with a 10-4 victory over John Shuster tonight at Veterans Memorial Arena.

It was the third time the two sides met this week with Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) and his team of Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), and Philip Tilker (Seattle) prevailing all three times against Shuster’s defending champions.

“I told people close to me that I expected to come here and win it,” Clark said. “This was the best week of my men’s curling career. We capped it off just playing fantastic. Hats off to my team – I think we played fantastic; the icemakers were fantastic; and I think John’s team played really well. We were just on our game and put pressure on them the whole game.”

This is the second men’s national championship for Clark and Tilker, who won the title together in 2013, and first for Persinger and Hufman.

“I’ve played this game a long, long, long time and have been unbelievably close more times than I can count. Honestly at this point, for me it’s more relief than anything,” Hufman said.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s been a crazy week; we knew we could do it we just had to go through the motions,” said Tilker, 39. “We got a little lead in the game and had to keep our emotions in check. It’s not over until it’s over. We are thrilled to be going to the Champions Cup, this is a big deal for us winning this event here even though we don’t get to go to Worlds because there were other things on the line. We are thrilled to be able to come out and beat John.”

Despite the loss in the national championship title game, Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) have earned enough points in the season-long qualification to represent the U.S. at the 2106 World Men’s Championship April 2-10 in Basel, Switzerland.

Team Clark will now represent the U.S. at the 2016 Champions Cup, a Grand Slam of Curling event, scheduled April 26-May 1 in Sherwood Park, Alberta.  “That was our goal here. We knew coming into this that we weren’t probably going to have enough points to get to Worlds so we wanted to make sure we won the title and got to the Champions Cup,” said Persinger, 37. “It’s hard to explain. It’s my first national championship and its feels great. The guys have worked really hard for this and played well all week.”

The scoring began in the second end when Clark’s team had a takeout for three points but settled for two when the shooter rolled across the house and nudged the third point further into the 12-foot than Shuster’s stone. In the third end, a series of half shots led to a single steal by Team Clark to take a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth end, Clark’s side again piled granite in the rings, eventually forcing Shuster to draw for a single point to get on the scoreboard. Clark’s team answered with a draw for three points after cluttering the rings with stones. With a wide open house, Shuster opted to draw for a single point in the sixth end to narrowly cut into Team Clark’s lead.

The game continued in Team Clark’s favor in the seventh end when they converted a takeout to score two points and go up by six. Shuster’s team countered with a deuce in the eighth end only to have Team Clark duplicate for the win.

“I was just proud of how our team. There was a ton of pressure coming in here with a huge points lead from the season,” Shuster said. “Honestly, none of us have played on arena ice hardly at all with the way sweeping has evolved throughout the season. The fact that we were able to make it through this and to also see what a team like Brady’s could do – they knew if they threw the right weight all week that they were going to win this thing and do it handily.”

The 2017 USA Curling National Championships will take place Feb. 11-18 in Everett, Wash.

At the closing ceremony, the Ann Brown Sportsmanship Award was presented to Jason Smith (St. Paul, Minn.), who plays lead on Team Pete Fenson.

Final scores and standings can be found at www.usacurl.org.

Line score, gold-medal game:

John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.)                     000 101 020 x – 4  

*Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.)              021 030 202 x – 10

*last rock in first end

Gold medalists:

Team Brown: Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario), Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.)

Team Clark: Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), Philip Tilker (Seattle), Coach Ken Trask (Seattle)

Silver medalists:

Team Roth: Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.), Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Coach Ann Swisshelm (Chicago)

Team Shuster: John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Bronze medalists:

Team Brown: Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), Sean Beighton (Seattle), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Team Christensen: Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.), Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.), Taylor Anderson (Broomall, Pa.), Madison Bear (Pardeeville, Wis.), Christine McMakin (St. Paul, Minn.), Coach Dave Jensen (Bismarck, N.D.)

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, CryoMAX, Sitrin, and The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, BalancePlus, Skills.com, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, Hilton HHonors, United Airlines, RJM Licensing Inc., and CurlingZone.

(30)

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