FARGO, North Dakota -- Vegas Baby! Team Persinger, skipped by Rich Ruohonen with Greg Persinger throwing fourth stones with Colin Hufman and Phil Tilker on the front end are headed to the World Men's Curling Championship in Las Vegas! Persinger won 7-5 over Heath McCormick to win the USA Curling National title at Scheels Arena in Fargo.
"It was 10 years ago that I made the Worlds with Craig Brown in Grand Forks and it was incredible there," said Ruohonen following the win. "I can only imagine it's gonna be bigger and better in Vegas because I know a ton of people that are going!"
After an opening end blank, Persinger scored two in the second end to open an early lead, something they have been able to do all week. Ater trading single points in the third and fourth ends, McCormick was fortunate as a pick setup a deuce to tie the game. Then, it looked as if the tide had turned when McCormick made a clutch freeze in the sixth end to steal a point and take the first lead of the game.
"We were able to capitalize on a couple of different opportunities in the middle of the game," said McCormick second Korey Dropkin. "Between the deuce in five and the steal in six, we were feeling pretty good."
For Persinger, this was also the first time they trailed in the three games against McCormick.
"We did give up that steal but I told the guys we had been playing well and getting deuces regularly with the hammer," said Ruohonen. "We felt if we could get a deuce back that we'd be fine. We made some big shots."
"We had a couple of picks which is how they got the deuce (in five). We felt like we were in control of the game and we played like we wanted to play all week. We played aggressive and made shots."
In the seventh end, Persinger bounced back with a deuce of their own, then added a steal in the eighth end when McCormick as heavy on a draw.
"We had a few unfortunate misses or half shots in the seventh end," said Dropkin. "Heater saved us a little bit and were able to [hold them to] the deuce. But the game just started to get a little bit away from us there."
"It happens. We fought to the end and unfortunately it didn't come out our way. It's something to me and all of us work a little bit harder next year and in the future."
Team Persinger now heads to the World Men's Curling Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. Follow three highly successful editions of the Continental Cup, the Orleans Arena will now host the 13 best men's teams in the world as they play for the World title.
"I don't have any words to describe it," said Persinger. "I never thought the way this season started that I'd be sitting here. We picked up this guy (Richie) and here we are."
"We picked him up [following the Olympic Trials] and the first spiel we played in we won. So we're pretty luck so far."
"The hardest thing is gonna be keeping Richie out of the casino. It's gonna be awesome playing in front of our home crowd. There's people coming from all over. It's going to be great."
Tickets for the World Men's are priced from just $25 for single draw and 4 day mini packs start at $199. All tickets can be purchased at the Orleans Arena Box Office, or online at LasVegasCurling.rocks.