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Briarcliff Teenage Curler Finishes Second In National Tourney

Andrew Stopera (second from right), with his curling team, Team Dropkin.
Andrew Stopera (second from right), with his curling team, Team Dropkin. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Peri Stopera

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- It's already been a banner year for Briarcliff curler Andrew Stopera.

The 17-year-old, a senior at Hackley High School, placed second with his team, Team Dropkin, at the U.S. Junior Curling National Championships in North Dakota and sixth at the U.S. Men's Curling National Championships in Michigan.

"The goal for juniors was to win it," Stopera said. "It's a bit disappointing."

Stopera felt better about his sixth-place finish at nationals, where he was competing against the best of the best.

"We didn't have too high expectations and I played well," Stopera said.

One of the top curlers Stopera got to play against was his dad, Bill, a champion in his own right.

"It was a pretty cool experience," Stopera said. "It was exciting. My dad enjoyed playing against me."

Stopera's team won and Stopera said he thinks his dad was OK with the defeat.

Stopera has been curling for nine years  Besides his father, Stopera's grandfather is also a curler and he said he loves watching curling at the Olympics.

Soon, Stopera will be heading back to North Dakota with his dad for a club tournament and then will be going to Edmonton in April for an under-18 tournament.

"I go to a lot of interesting places," Stopera said. "It's good, but it can be a grind at the same time. I'm missing school and I'm always traveling but it's enjoyable to play where we play."

Stopera plays lead, delivering the first two stones and sweeping the last six. Previously, he had played rock, where he throws the fifth and sixth stones. He said his ultimate goal is to win at juniors.

"I've been trying to do it for the last three years," Stopera said. "I would love to go to the Olympics one day."

The high school senior is going to Northwestern University for college, where he plans to play for a club team.

Stopera practices at the Ardsley Curling Club about four times a week.

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