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Bemidji curling rinks advance to finals at nationals

The Pete Fenson and Mike Farbelow teams won tiebreaker games Thursday night at the 2010 USA Curling National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., to move within one game of the gold medal contest.

The Fenson and Farbelow teams will meet today as the top two seeds in the page system playoffs, with the winner advancing to Saturday's 2 p.m. final. Whatever the result, the Fenson family of Bemidji will be represented in the finals, as Pete's brother, Eric, plays third on the Farbelow team.

Farbelow clinched its victory over the Matt Hames rink on the last rock. With the Hames team sitting three, Farbelow made a controlled weight hit around a guard to score one for the 6-5 win.

Pete Fenson won a battle of Bemidji teams in the other tiebreaker. Fenson was tied 5-5 with the Matt Stevens rink after six ends. Fenson scored two in the seventh and then gained the upper hand with a steal of one in the eighth. Stevens pulled to within 8-7 with a pair in the ninth, but Fenson's team iced the game with another deuce in the 10th for a final score of 10-7.

The men's page playoff games are at 11 a.m. Friday. Stevens and Hames will square off to see who will advance to the 7 p.m. semifinal Friday night against the loser of the Fenson-Farbelow game.

The national champion will earn the privilege of representing USA at the men's World Curling Championship April 3-11 in Cortina, Italy.

Fenson and Stevens were among four teams deadlocked for the lead at the end of the round robin. Farbelow and Hames also went 6-3.

Two others, Craig Brown and Wes Johnson, ended at 5-4 one win short of gaining a tiebreaker spot.

Fenson beat Kevin Kakela 8-4 in his last match. scoring the final five points after Kakela led 4-3 after five.

A three spot in the seventh turned the tide, with Fenson barely missing scoring five.

Farbelow advanced when Hames' final shot slid through the house leaving the Minneapolis rink a 5-3 winner.

While all four of the leaders gain the Page Playoffs, one round of tiebreakers was needed to determine the order of their final for playoff purposes.

They matched Farbelow with Hames again and Fenson with Stevens in an all-Bemidji event.

The two winners gain the 1 and 2 seeds for today's playoff openers with the losers gaining the 3-4 berths.

Stevens ended with a bang, scoring a 10-2 decision over Blake Morton in his final match.

Leading 5-2, Stevens stole five in the fifth to break the game open, Morton conceded after six.

Men's Division

Final Standings

Fenson, Stevens, Farbelow, Hames 6-3, Brown, Johnson 5-4, Birr 4-5, Kakela, Morton 3-6, Wight 1-8

Women's division

The Page playoffs are set, afer Amy Wright earned the No. 1 spot with a 7-6 tiebreaker win over Patti Lank, and Erika Brown grabbed the No. 2 spot with a 9-6 win over Lank on Thursday.

Lank, Wright and Brown all finished round-robin play at 7-2. Newcomer Becca Hamilton took fourth at 6-3.

Wright and Brown will meet Friday morning in the 1-2 game, with the winner advancing to Saturday's final and the loser meeting the Lank-Hamilton winner for the second berth.

The winner will succeed Deb McCormick for a spot in the World Championships at Swift Current, Canada.

The playoff scenario came about when Brown destroyed Lank 10-2 in the final draw. Brown widened a 3-2 lead with four in the fourth end and pulled away from there.

Hamilton gained the final spot despite an 8-6 loss to Wright.

The young team finished second at the National Juniors this year.

Had she won she would have been in Switzerland this week at the World Juniors instead of at the U.S. Nationals.

Final Standings

Lank, Brown Wright 7-2, Hamilton 6-3, Walker, Wapola 5-4, Horn, Coleman 3-6, Hamley, Heisler 1-8