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Eric Peterson, Published February 20 2011

Team Fenson men's curling squad collects more hardware at USA Curling National Championships

Pete Fenson has been to the top of the curling awards stand numerous times before, but Fenson said Saturday’s championship may be his best.

Team Fenson stole a point in the 11th end to rally past Team George for a 6-5 victory in the men’s final at the USA Curling National Championships at Scheels Arena.

Fenson has won seven national titles, including five as a skip. His seven national championships are a record and he is tied for the record for most titles as a skip. Fenson is the only skip who has won five national championships throwing the last stone.

“Stealing a win in extra end, that’s about as tough as it gets,” said Fenson, from Bemidji, Minn. “That was a tough game. Of all the finals we’ve been in, they (Team George) were here to play. They played great.”

Fenson scored a point in the 10th with a tap out, leaving his rock slightly closer to the button. That forced extra ends with George having the hammer.

“We thought if we played 10 full ends we would beat them and we did, but we didn’t play 11,” said Team George skip Tyler George. “That’s exactly the way we expected the game to go. We played the whole game to get the hammer in the last end and that’s what we did. We just didn’t take advantage of it.”

Team Fenson completed an undefeated week, posting a 9-0 record in round-robin play. Fenson then defeated Team George twice in the playoffs, including the finals.

“Once we got going this week, everything started to go. It was in the back of our minds,” said Shawn Rojeski, who plays third for Team Fenson. “The closer we got, the undefeated streak was always going to be there. We had to keep playing well.”

Team Fenson repeated as national champions. Fenson’s team, which also includes Joe Polo and Ryan Brunt, advanced to the World Men’s Curling Championship in Regina, Sask., in April.

George played lead for last year’s Fenson national championship team.

“It’s difficult playing them because they are a good team,” said George, from Duluth, Minn. “We don’t have any problem going out there and beating them and vice versa.”

Fenson delivered the winning shot, drawing to the top of the button on the second to last shot of the game. George had a chance to draw for one and a championship, but his stone clipped a guard near the front of the house. That left Fenson’s yellow rock closer to the button for victory.

A big smile came to Fenson’s face after he knew victory was secured.

“I’m a little uncertain how we did it in the end, but all we wanted to do was make him make a good shot to win it,” Fenson said. “If he makes a good shot, we can’t take away from him that he makes it. We put ourselves in a good position to steal the win.”

George 003 010 001 00-5

*Fenson 100 200 010 11-6

*had final stone in first end

Ann Brown sportsmanship awards

Todd Virr, men’s winner

Chrissy Haase, women’s winner

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com