Cora Farrell

Team Alaska curler Cora Farrell releases the stone in their playoff game against Team Yukon on March 19, 2014, at the Fairbanks Curling Club. Sam Harrel/News-Miner 

A trio of women’s curlers from Fairbanks are competing at the 2020 USA Curling Women’s Challenge Round on Jan. 3 in Mapleton, Minnesota.

Cora Farrell, Ariel Traxler and Anne O’Hara are among the participants at the Heather Curling Club for the last-chance qualifying event for the USA Curling National Championships. The nationals are scheduled for Feb. 8-15 at the Eastern Washington University Recreation Center in Cheney, Washington.

The challenge round features eight women’s teams vying for three berths in the national tournament. 

Farrell and Traxler are skipping teams at the Heather Curling Club while O’Hara is a positional player. 

Farrell’s team is comprised of Leah Yavarow, of Bemidji, Minnesota; Cait Flannery, of Mankato, Minnesota; Allison Howell, of Bentleyville, Ohio; and Rebecca Miles, of Duluth, Minnesota.

Farrell and her teammates reached the playoffs of the World Junior B Championships on Dec. 17 in Lohja, Finland.

Traxler’s teammates for the challenge round are Katherine Gourianova, of Potomac, Maryland; Elizabeth Cousins, of Medfield, Massachusetts; and Elizabeth Janiak, of Nashua, New Hampshire.

O’Hara is competing in Mapleton with Team Christine McMakin, of Minneapolis. The other team members are Anna Netteberg, of Roseville, Minnesota, and Emma Rau, of Columbus, Ohio.

Former Fairbanks residents Steve Birklid, of Mountlake Terrace, Washington, and Matt Birklid, of Shoreline, Washington, are among the participants in the Men’s Challenge Round on Jan. 2 at the Grand Forks Curling Club in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Steve Birklid is the skip for the team, which includes Seattle’s Sam Galey and Chris Bond.

The men’s challenge round features 16 teams vying for four berths in the national tournament.

Fairbanks cousins Vicky Persinger and Greg Persinger and Fairbanks native Colin Hufman are on teams which have already qualified for the national tournament.

Vicky Persinger is on Team Jamie Sinclair, of Osgoode, Ontario. The team’s other members Cory Christensen, of Duluth, Minnesota; and Minneapolis’ Taylor Anderson and Sarah Anderson.

Persinger and Sinclair were on national champion women’s teams in 2017 and 2018.

Greg Persinger and Hufman, who now lives in Minneapolis, are members of Team Rich Ruohonen, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The team’s other members are Seattle’s Phil Tilker and Kroy Nernberger, of Madison, Wisconsin.

Greg Persinger, Hufman and Ruohonen were part of men’s national champion teams in 2016 and 2018.


Billings sets state swim mark in Nome

Heidi Billings, of Fairbanks’ Stingray Swim Team, set the girls 15-over age group state record in the 400 individual medley Dec. 14 at the Goldrush City Meet in Nome.

Billings won in 5 minutes, 13.25 seconds, beating the mark of 5:16.18 established by Anchorage’s Megan Cavanaugh in 2006.

“Our goal of this trip was to support the Nome team, experience a new town and bond as a swim community. Heidi’s record was certainly a bonus,”  Stingray head coach Josh Gregory said in a news release. 

Nome hosted its first swim meet in 15 years, according to Nome Northstar Swim Team head coach Davis Hovey. The Midnight Sun Swim Team, of Fairbanks, competed, too.

Nome Northstar, with 45 swimmers, won the meet with 572 points. The Stingray team was second with 345 points and the Midnight Sun third with 147.

In the girls standings, Northstar compiled 295 points to Stingray’s 173 and Midnight Sun’s 116. The Northstar boys tallied 251 points, while Stingray’s boys squad had 148 and Midnight Sun’s had 23.

Billings also won in her age group’s 50-meter freestyle in 28.45 seconds, 100 backstroke in 1:08.97, 100 butterfly in 1:08.50 and 200 IM in 5:13.25. 

Northstar’s Ella Hubert won three races in the girls 6-under category — 25-meter freestyle (33.82 seconds), 50 freestyle (1:27.10) and 25 backstroke (44.94).

Northstar’s Mendalina Wilson and Kinley Knipfer collected two wins in the girls 7-8 age group.

Wilson won in the 50 freestyle in 55.95 and 25 backstroke in 28.35. Knipfer took first in 2:29.27 in the 100 freestyle and 59.72 in the 50 backstroke.

Midnight Sun’s Juliet Curry earned two wins in the girls 9-10 category, as she won in the 100 freestyle (1:54.52) and 100 breaststroke (2:49.16).

Midnight Sun teammate Maya Raskovic took home six titles in the girls 11-12 category. She won in the 50 freestyle (44.99), 100 freestyle (1:38.03), 200 freestyle (3:40.55), 100 backstroke (1:55.99), 100 breaststroke (2:06.31) and 50 butterfly (53.79).

Stingray’s Lylah Murrah was a six-time winner in the girls 13-14 age group.

Murrah touched the wall first in the 50 freestyle (32.04), 200 freestyle (2:25.37), 400 freestyle (5:13.78), 100 backstroke (1:26.71), 100 butterfly (1:20.50) and 400 IM (6:04.85).

Midnight Sun’s Kylee Carter swept two distance freestyle’s in the 15-over category, as she won the 200 in 2:37.44 and 400 in 5:30.01.

Northstar’s Jesse Rowe picked up three titles in the boys 6-and-under group — 25 freestyle (1:31.17), 50 freestyle (2:32.97) and 25 backstroke (52.65).

Northstar teammate Brandon Ford won in the 50 freestyle (51.29) and the 100 freestyle (1:51.18) for boys 7-8. Teammate Tyler Ellanna won in the same category with finishes of 23.09 in the 25 freestyle and 58.18 in the 50 backstroke.

Northstar’s Granite Peacock won three races in the boys 9-10 group — 50 freestyle (43.74), 50 backstroke (50.74) and 100 backstroke (1:49.74). Teammate Anarrakag Hoak tripled for wins in the age group’s 100 freestyle (1:36.77),  200 freestyle (3:54.07) and 50 butterfly (56.80).

Stingray’s Zeke Rasmussen took home six titles in the 11-12 age group. He won the 50 freestyle (34.91), 100 freestyle (1:17.29), 400 freestyle (5:21.79), 100 backstroke (1:26.91), 50 breaststroke (45.87) and 100 breaststroke (1:41.22).

Stingray teammate Hayden Rasmussen emerged with six titles from the 13-14 age group races. He placed first in 50 freestyle (34.13), 200 freestyle (2:36.38), 400 freestyle (5:22.46), 100 backstroke (1:20.16), 200 backstroke (2:47.87)  and 100 butterfly (1:31.80)

Northstar’s C squad won in 4:40.71 in the mixed 12-under 200 medley and  Stingray’s A squad won in 2:09.51 in the mixed 200 freestyle relay.