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National curling: Fenson, Pottinger, Potter rinks advance to Page playoffs

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji advanced to the Page playoffs of the USA National men's curling championships Thursday and will meet Brady Clark of Seattle in the No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup at 11 a.m. Friday.

At the same time the Craig Brown and Heath McCormick rinks will square off in the No. 1 vs. No. 2 playoff battle.

The loser of the Fenson-Clark game will be eliminated while the winner will advance to face the loser of the Brown-McCormick contest.

The playoffs will conclude 2 p.m. Saturday with the championship game.

Curling with Pete Fenson are Shawn Rojeski of Chisholm, Joe Polo of Duluth and Ryan Brunt of Portage, Wis.

In the women's division, the Allison Pottinger rink of St. Paul, which includes Bemidji resident Natalie Nicholson, finished 7-2 in the round robin and earned the top seed for the Page playoffs. Also finishing 7-2 and earning the second seed was the Cassie Potter team of St. Paul which includes Bemidji natives Potter and Jamie Haskell.

The Nina Spatola rink of Wisconsin also ended the round robin 7-2 and earned the third seed. The rink will open its Page playoffs atgainst either the Alex Carlson rink of Wayzata or the Courtney George team of St. Paul. Those two teams each completed the round robin with 6-3 records and will meet Thursday in a tie-breaker.

Curling on the Carlson rink is Bemidji native Sherri Schummer.

In the final men's draw on Thursday, Fenson stole a point in the ninth end to take a 6-4 lead and held off Peter Stolt of Plymouth to win 6-4.

"A few days ago we needed to put ourselves on a winning streak," Fenson told USA Curling after Thursday's victory. “We needed to be better, to be more precise. In this game, everyone was playing a bit better. We made the right shots, got a break or two, and got ourselves into a position to win.

“We know how to prepare, rest, relax, talk about curling, and get ourselves ready to play," Fenson said about his playoff opener. "We are trying to find another gear.”

The John Shuster rink of Duluth, which includes BSU student Jared Zezel, saw its dreams of advancing to the playoffs end Thursday morning when it lost 7-5 to Craig Brown of Madison. That loss gave Shuster a 5-4 record.

The Eric Fenson rink of Bemidji completed the round robin 2-7 after dropping a 9-4 decision to Pete Pustovar of Duluth Thursday morning.

Curling with Eric Fenson on the team are Bemidji residents Josh Bahr, Jon Chandler and Mark Haluptzok.

Pottinger dropped the final match in the round robin 8-5 to Courtney George of Duluth in Wednesday's late draw. Potter ended the round robin on a high note as it stopped Carlson 9-5.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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