This past weekend two sisters from the small town of North Utica, IL qualified for the US National Mixed Curling Championships; their THIRD year in a row. They were unable to compete the first year due to Covid, last year they got second place at Nationals, and are eager to represent Illinois, April 12-16, at the Denver Curling Club in Golden, Colorado.
Bella and Mae Hagenbuch met Fergus Falls native Cameron Rittenour, formerly of East Peoria, IL when they were 11 and 13 years of age.
Cameron had moved to East Peoria and was looking for a curling club to practice at for his upcoming men's national tournament. His men's team has competed in four National tournaments as well as competing at the last Olympic trials. His "skip" is Jed Brundidge, from St. Paul, MN. (Jed's father is Myles Brundidge, who competed at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, where the American team placed 4th, and at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where they placed 7th. In 1999 he was named the United States Curling Association and United States Olympic Committee Male Athlete of the Year.) Jed now coaches Bella and Mae's Jr. Women's Team, who have competed at the U-18 and U-21 Nationals. Bella and Mae will also be competing at the coming up Youth Jr. Olympic Mixed Team Trials for a chance to compete in South Korea.
The Mixed Curling Competitions are for youth and adults to compete together on the ice. Cameron took the Hagenbuch sisters under wing with confidence that they would be top future curlers. Cameron continued to have the sisters on his mixed team after he moved back to his hometown of Fergus Falls. With partners of Cameron and Jed, Bella and Mae made the transition to the adult competitions with confidence. At their first Mixed National Tournament Bella, 15, and Mae, 13, were the youngest competitors and have been for the past three years.
This year’s qualifier was held at the Chicago Curling Club. The round robin competition, of Illinois teams, brought Team Brundidge to a 5 and 1 record and another National Birth.
This will now bring Cameron Rittenour to his Seventh National Tournament (Four Men’s and Three Mixed) and One Olympic Trial with a sport that he has only competed in for seven years.