The United States Curling Association (following Canada’s lead) has changed the championship formats for Junior Curling this season. And Junior curlers from the Midland Curling Club are adapting to the new formats perfectly.
Instead of a single Junior Championship for ages 14 to 21, there is now a National Championship for curlers up to age 21; and a new separate competition for curlers ages 18 and under. With this division, the objectives are to develop elite Junior curling teams prepared to compete at the National and World Championship levels, and to develop a broader base of participation among younger competitive curlers.
Two standout Midland curlers advanced to the 2017 Junior National Championships held January 15 to 21 in Fargo, North Dakota. Aaron Carlson, a computer science student at Michigan State, played with the Nick Connolly rink from Seattle. The team finished in second place in the Junior Men’s Championship, bringing home Silver medals. Aaron was presented with the Katie Beck Award for Sportsmanship. In the Junior Women’s Championship, Sidney Schroeder, a sophomore at Michigan Tech, played Vice-skip on the Ariel Traxler team from Fairbanks, Alaska. The team finished in 4th place and Sidney came away with the All-Star Vice Award.
Next up for Aaron and Sidney, they will try to get back to the National Championship stage by competing for the GLCA Mixed title February 17 to 19 in Detroit. Sidney will skip with Aaron Vice-skip and Michigan Tech students Alexis Schroeder and B. J. Kent playing front end.
For the new U-18 Championship, there will be 12 teams competing in each Championship and teams qualify through regional competitions. For the 5-state Great Lakes Curling Association, Junior Championships were held December 27-29 in Detroit. Two Midland teams, the Maya Willertz rink and the Andrew McDonald rink, were undefeated and will advance to the inaugural USCA National U-18 Championship March 8 to 12 in Milwaukee. Both teams are defending GLCA Junior Champions. The big difference is that they will be competing this year with curlers their own age.
Due to the strength of the competition at the GLCA U-18 Championships, both of the runner-up teams will also advance to the U-18 National Championships. Congratulations to the Austin Carlson rink from Midland and the Claire Blaske rink from Ohio.
Youth curling coaches at the Midland Curling Club are Mike Graves, Scott Strouse, Peter Carlson, Ken Moore and Thoralf Brecht. These coaches and the entire Midland Curling Club are proud to have Aaron Carlson and Sidney Schroeder representing our club at the elite levels of Junior curling, and to have 3 teams participating in the inaugural U-18 National Championship.
Photo: GLCA U-18 Champions, L toR: Andrew McDonald (skip), Sam Strouse, Ian Strong, J.T. Burnett; Rachel Weldy, Madelyn Graves, Delaney Strouse, Maya Willertz (skip).