Ariel Traxler curling

Ariel Traxler is among three Fairbanks women competing in the USA Curling Junior National Championships, which run through Saturday at the Eau Claire Curling Club in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

Wednesday’s pool-play matches seemed to resemble a roller coaster for Interior participants in the USA Curling National Championships.

There were downs and ups for them in the University Recreation Center Ice Arena at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.

 A big down was the end of an unbeaten run in the women’s division for Team Jamie Sinclair, which includes Fairbanks’ Vicky Persinger, who plays at the second position.

Team Sinclair lost 9-8 in an extra end to Team Kim Rhyme, of Minneapolis, on Wednesday.

Sinclair’s group built a 7-5 lead through seven ends and was ahead 8-5 after the eighth end. Rhyme and company rallied with three points in the 10th end and produced the game-winning point in the extra end.

 Sinclair, the skip, is from Osgoode, Ontario, and the team’s other members are third Cory Christensen, of Duluth, Minnesota, and lead Taylor Anderson, of Minneapolis. Sarah Anderson, also of Minneapolis, is an alternate for the squad.

Team Traxler is 5-1 and tied for first place with Team Tabitha Peterson, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Team Traxler beat Team Peterson 8-7 in an extra end Tuesday night.

A big up Wednesday was a women’s team skipped by Fairbanks’ Ariel Traxler improved to 3-3 after starting the tournament 0-3.

Team Traxler moved into a three-way tie for third place and in playoff contention after soaring to an 11-2 win over Team Delaney Strouse, of Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Traxler and her teammates capped the win with a three-point burst in the ninth end. The quartet had tacked on two points each in the first, fifth and eight ends and singles in the fourth and sixth ends.

Team Traxler also limited Team Strouse to singles in the third and seventh end.

Traxler’s teammates are fourth Elizabeth Cousins, of Medfield, Massachusetts; third Katherine Gourianova, of Potomac, Maryland; and second Elizabeth Janiak, of Nashua, New Hampshire. 

In the men’s division, Team Rich Ruohonen, which includes Fairbanks’ Greg Persinger and Fairbanks native Colin Hufman, improved its second-place record to 6-2 with a pair of wins Wednesday.

Team Ruohonen opened Wednesday’s action with a 7-4 win over Team Korey Dropkin, of Chaska, Minnesota. 

Ruohonen’s foursome benefitted from a 3-point burst in the first end. The squad added two points in the fourth end and singles in the fifth and eighth ends.

On Wednesday night, Team Ruohonen won 7-4 over Team Todd Bir, of Ham Lake, Minnesota.

Ruohonen’s group snapped a 3-all tie with a single point in the fifth end and two points apiece in the seventh and ninth ends.

Persinger, Vicky’s cousin, is the third for Team Ruohonen, and Hufman, who now lives in Minneapolis, plays at the second position. Ruohonen, the skip is from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and lead Phil Tilker is from Seattle. Team alternate Kroy Nernberger is from Madison, Wisconsin.

Former Fairbanks resident Steve Birklid guided his team to a split of two matches Wednesday and the squad improved to 4-4 for a three-way tie for third place.

Birklid’s squad ended Wednesday’s competition with a 7-6 win over Philadelphia’s Team Scott Dunnam in 10 ends.

 Team Birklid got the game-winner with a single in the 10th end after Dunnam’s squad generated two points in the ninth end for a 6-all tie.

Earlier Wednesday,  Birklid and his teammates lost 10-5 to Team Todd Birr, of Ham Lake, Minnesota.

Team Birklid recorded singles in the second, fourth and eighth ends, and scored two points in the sixth end.

Steve Birklid now lives in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. The other team members are second Matt Birklid, who’s also from Fairbanks and now lives in Shoreline, Washington; and Seattle curlers Sam Galey (third) and Chris Bond (lead).

The last round-robin matches of the nationals takes place today and playoffs begin Friday. The championship matches are scheduled for Saturday.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.