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Pete Fenson rink qualifies for 2012 Curling National Championships

The 2012 USA Curling National Championships will be Feb. 11-18 in Aston, Pa. and the Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji will be in the field.

Fenson has qualified based on the team's participation in the America's Challenge in late January in which USA will play a best-of-five competition against Brazil to earn the final Americas berth at the 2012 World Men's Championship.

Because of the Americas Challenge obligation and close timing to the qualifying events for Nationals, a specials rule was put in place to qualify Team Fenson. Because Team Fenson did not finish in the top two on the WCT Order of Merit points standings there will be 11 men's teams instead of 10 competing at the 2012 Nationals.

The next opportunity for men's teams to qualify to the Nationals will take place Jan. 5-8 at the various men's qualifying rounds. Among the teams planning to play in the qualifier in Grand Forks are the Eric Fenson, Mark Haluptzok, Jason Smith and Matt Stevens rinks.

The Eric Fenson rink includes Fenson, Trevor Andrews and Quentin Way, all of Bemidji, plus Mark Lazar of Toledo, Ohio.

The Haluptzok rink features Bemidji curlers Mark Haluptzok, John Israelson, Randy Hovet and Jon Chandler.

The Jason Smith rink, which is based in Virginia, includes Aaron Wald of Bemidji.

The Stevens rink is comprised of Bemidji curlers Matt Stevens, Cody Stevens, Robert Liapis and Mike Liapis.

Hoping to gain the National meet through the Midwest South qualifying tournament is the Josh Bahr rink of Bemidji. Also on the squad is Atticus Wallace of Bemidji.

Five berths to the Nationals will be available from the regionals. The final three spots - to bring the total to 11 teams - will be awarded at the Men's Challenge Round Jan. 19-22 at the Eau Claire Curling Club.

The Women's Challenge Round will be Jan. 19-22 in Marshfield, Wis.

Among the rinks scheduled to compete in that tournament are Cassie Potter and Allison Pottinger. Cassie Potter and teammate Jamie Haskell are originally from Bemidji. Curling on the Pottinger rink is Natalie Nicholson of Bemidji.