First draw in the books in Kalamazoo

By Terry L. Davis | Feb. 09, 2019, 10:04 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 9, 2019

 

2019 National Championships kick off in Kalamazoo

 

(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) – Hosting its third national championship in less than a decade, the city of Kalamazoo came out in strong support of the athletes tonight as the 2019 USA Curling National Championships kicked off at Wings Event Center.

 

Olympic gold medalist John Shuster started on a strong note with a 9-2 win over Sam Strouse’s young team in front of a full crowd. Strouse, the youngest skip in the field at 18, scored a deuce in the fifth end to get back into the game after Shuster’s side scored three points in the opening end. The game was broke open in the sixth, however, as the Shuster rink added four more to the scoreboard and followed up by stealing two in the seventh to end the game.

 

“For me, I just want to make sure I get a really good read on the ice, and I put the broom down that gives my team the best opportunity to make shots,” Shuster said. “So, we’re just going to try to keep our thumb on exactly what the ice is doing and try to keep executing. There’s a lot of really good teams here, really good players here, so we just have to keep executing and we’ll be just fine.”

 

Scott Dunnam’s squad met all of its goals tonight in a lopsided 9-1 victory over Steven Birklid’s Seattle-based rink.

 

“Tonight’s main goal was obviously to get a win but to pick up on the ice because it’s nine games,” said Dunnam, 25, who is skipping in his second men’s national championship. “We had to learn as much as we could tonight. We were a little shaky at the beginning but thankfully it got better and better with each end. It was a good first game.”

 

Dunnam (Dresher, Pa.) and his team of Cody Clouser (Berwyn, Pa.), Andy Dunnam (Dresher, Pa.) and Daniel Dudt (Malvern, Pa.) took control of the match in the fourth end when they scored four points.

 

Mark Fenner’s four-some also started the tournament on a positive note as they secured an 8-4 win over Jed Brundidge’s team. Fenner (St. Anthony, Minn.) and teammates Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.) and Alex Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) used the last-rock advantage well in securing multiple points each time they had the hammer.

 

Rich Ruohonen and his defending champions picked up right where they left off last year in Fargo, N.D., with another win. Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and teammates Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Phil Tilker (Seattle) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and maintained control of their match against Todd Birr’s team on the way to a 9-5 triumph.

 

In the closest-contested match of the evening, Brandon Corbett’s team stole two points in the seventh end to fuel an 8-6 victory over Chase Sinnett’s junior rink.

 

The teams are competing in a weeklong round robin to determine the playoff contenders. The competition continues on Sunday with a marathon curling activity as four draws of competition await at 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. The eight women’s teams take the ice for the first time at noon tomorrow.

 

Draw 1 results: Shuster 9, Strouse 2; Dunnam 9, Birklid 1; Fenner 8, Brundidge 4; Ruohonen 9, Birr 5; Corbett 8, Sinnett 6

 

Men’s standings:

Brandon Corbett             1-0

Scott Dunnam                 1-0

Mark Fenner                    1-0

Rich Ruohonen               1-0

John Shuster                    1-0

Steven Birklid                  0-1

Todd Birr                          0-1

Jed Brundidge                 0-1

Chase Sinnett                   0-1

Sam Strouse                    0-1

 

How to watch: Live action from each draw is featured at https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/webstream in partnership with the 12th End Sports Network and the United States Olympic Committee.

 

Live scores & social media: Live scores are posted at www.usacurl.org in partnership with CurlingZone. The official event hashtag is #2019Nats.

 

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

 

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For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile).