First three Nationals playoff berths awarded

By Terry L. Davis | March 08, 2018, 1:30 a.m. (ET)


March 7, 2018


Playoff picture starting to take shape at 2018 National Championships


(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – Three teams have secured spots in the Page playoffs of the 2018 USA Curling National Championships as the round robin nears its final session at Scheels Arena in Fargo, N.D.


Jamie Sinclair’s defending champions remain perfect after defeating Cory Christensen’s team, 8-5, today. The win improves Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.) and teammates Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), and Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.) to 6-0 and secures them the top seed in Thursday’s Page playoffs. Christensen’s team is now 4-2 overall.


In the men’s division, teams skipped by Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) and Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) have earned spots in the Page 1-2 playoff game as well as each side won today to improve to 7-1 with one game remaining tonight in the round robin.


McCormick and his team of Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.) got past Alex Leichter’s team, 9-4, to reach their seventh win.


Persinger’s team of Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), and Phil Tilker (Seattle) improved to 7-1 with a 7-2 triumph over Tucker Smith’s Bismarck rink. “I felt like at the beginning of the week we were really, really sharp. We’ve had a couple of games where we haven’t quite put full ends together. We’ve had some ebbs and flows and come on strong here in the last few,” Hufman said.


Todd Birr’s team secured a 7-5 win over Scott Dunnam’s team in the 10th end to improve the team’s odds of making the playoffs as they are now 5-3 in the round robin standings. After the Birr rink, four teams are tied for fourth place. The top four teams will advance to the Page playoffs.


Kroy Nernberger’s team kept their playoff hopes alive with a 9-4 win over Jed Brundidge’s team. “We played really well and honestly have played like that all week. It’s nice to get a ‘W’ instead of an ‘L,’” said Sean Beighton, who throws last rocks for Team Nernberger.  “With the position we’re in and backs against the wall, everything is under our control. Keep winning and we’re gonna keep going in the playoffs.”


Nick Connolly’s junior team also stayed in the playoff conversation with a key 5-4 win over Pete Fenson’s team. “That’s definitely one of the best teams I’ve ever played in Pete Fenson who’s a great curler. I went down there and put the broom down, Chase (Sinnett) gave me a few more inches where we needed it and the sweepers swept it perfectly,” Connolly said about the winning shot.


Brundidge, Connolly, Fenson, and Nernberger are all tied at 4-4. “We’re pretty excited,” Connolly said. “We didn’t come here expecting to make the playoffs at all. We’ve got Heater [McCormick] tonight and he’s a great curler. It’s gonna be a tough battle. The fact we’re still alive is pretty awesome.”


In other women’s competition, Cora Farrell’s team improved to 4-2 to stay in the playoff hunt after a 6-4 win over Christine McMakin’s rink. Beth Podoll (Fargo, N.D.) defeated her older sister Ann Podoll (Fargo, N.D.) to even her team’s record to 3-3. Kim Rhyme’s team won its third straight to also improve to 3-3 after sweeping past Emily Anderson’s team, 8-7.


A live webstream, produced by the 12th End Sports Network in partnership with USA Curling and the U.S. Olympic Committee, and live scores are posted at


Men’s standings:

Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario)         7-1Q

Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska)           7-1Q

Todd Birr (Ham Lake, Minn.)                     5-3

Jed Brundidge (West St. Paul, Minn.)      4-4

Nick Connolly (Seattle)                               4-4

Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.)                    4-4

Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.)            4-4

Alex Leichter (Boston)                                3-5

Scott Dunnam (Dresher, Pa.)                     1-7

Tucker Smith (Bismarck, N.D.)                   1-7


Women’s standings:

Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.)                  6-0Q1

Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.)             4-2

Cora Farrell (Fairbanks, Alaska)                4-2

Beth Podoll (Fargo, N.D.)                           3-3

Kim Rhyme (Minneapolis, Minn.)             3-3

Christine McMakin (St. Paul, Minn.)        2-4

Emily Anderson (Broomall, Pa.)                1-5

Ann Podoll (Fargo, N.D.)                             1-5

Q=qualified for Page playoffs

Q1=No. 1 playoff seed


What’s at stake:

The weeklong national event features the top men’s and women’s teams in the country and helps determine Team USA for the subsequent World Championships. The 2018 World Men’s Championship will take place March 31-April 8 in Las Vegas, Nev., while the 2018 World Women’s Championship will be staged March 17-25 in North Bay, Ontario.


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




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