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CURLING: Fenson falls short at nationals

Pete Fenson (right) watches as his curling teammates Ryan Brunt (left) and Joe Polo (center) follow the rock down the ice during Thursday’s tie-breaking game against the Heath McCormick rink. Fenson fell short in his bid to win the USA National title as he lost Thursday’s tie-breaker 7-5. Rich Harmer | USA Curling

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji fell short in its bid to reclaim the national men’s curling championship Thursday as the team lost 7-5 to Heath McCormick of New York in the first of three tie breaking games.

Fenson and his teammates, Ryan Brunt of Bemidji, Joe Polo of Bemidji and Shawn Rojeski of Chisholm, dropped an 8-7 decision to John Shuster of Duluth in Thursday morning’s final round robin match.

That result gave Fenson a 5-4 record and pushed the rink into a five-way tie for the final two Page playoff spots.

Sharing first place with 7-2 records were Shuster and Tyler George of Duluth and they will meet at 9 a.m. today in the 1 vs. 2 Page playoff game.

Thursday’s tie breaker games saw Fenson facing McCormick and Craig Brown of Wisconsin squaring off against Brady Clark of Washington.

Clark eliminated Brown 9-8 in 11 ends and, after McCormick ousted Fenson, the rink battled Mike Farbelow of Minneapolis in Thursday’s late tie breaker.

That winner will play against Clark in today’s 3 vs. 4 Page elimination game. The Page semifinal will be played at 8 p.m. today and the national champion will be crowned 3 p.m. Saturday.

In its game against McCormick Fenson used the hammer to grab a 2-0 lead after the first end but McCormick answered with a pair in the third. Single scores by Fenson in the fourth and sixth ends were offset by McCormick’s solo tallies in the fifth and seventh.

Fenson took a 5-4 lead with a counter in the eighth end but McCormick delivered the dagger by scoring three in the ninth. When Fenson ran out of rocks in the 10th end the game was over.

Women’s Division

The playoff format for the women’s division is a straight semifinals and final tournament and among the teams in the hunt is the Allison Pottinger rink of Eden Prairie. Curing on that team is Natalie Nicholson of Bemidji.

Pottinger was one of three teams with 7-2 records in the final round robin standings and was awarded the No. 3 seed. Also at 7-2 were Courtney George of Duluth (the top seed) and Erika Brown of Wisconsin (the No. 2 seed).

Tying for fourth were the Patti Lank rink of New York and the Alex Carlson rink of Wayzata but Carlson claimed the final playoff spot by stopping Lank 9-6 in Thursday’s tie breaker.

Thursday’s late games, which were still in progress at presstime, saw Pottinger facing Brown and Carlson meeting George.

Those winners will battle for the national title 9 a.m. Saturday while the losers will play for third place 2 p.m. today.

The Laura Roessler rink of Wisconsin, which includes Bemidji curler Jamie Haskell, finished 4-5 in the round robin standings and missed playing in a tie breaker by one game.

Men’s Round Robin Standings

George 7-2, Shuster 7-2, Farbelow 5-4, Brown 5-4, Clark 5-4, McCormick 5-4, Fenson 5-4, Persinger 3-6, Birr 3-6, Lemke 3-6

Thursday’s Tie-Breakers

Game 1: McCormick 7, Fenson 5 (Fenson eliminated)

Game 2: Clark 9, Brown 8, 11 ends (Brown eliminated

Game 3: McCormick vs. Farbelow

Today’s Page Semifinals

Game 4: George vs. Shuster, 9 a.m. (winner advances to final)

Game 5: Clark vs. Game 3 winner, 9 a.m. (loser eliminated)

Game 6: Game 4 loser vs. Game 5 winner, 8 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Saturday’s Final

Game 7: Game 4 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 3 p.m.

Women’s Round Robin Standings

George 7-2, Brown 7-2, Pottinger 7-2, Lank 5-4, Carlson 5-4, Roessler 4-5, Clark 3-6, Hamilton 3-6, Kinney 2-7, Anderson 2-7

Thursday’s Tie-Breaker

Carlson 9, Lank 6

Thursday’s Late Semifinals

Game 1: Pottinger vs. Brown

Game 2: George vs. Carlson

Friday’s Third Place Game

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m.

Saturday’s Championship

Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 9 a.m.