Big winter for the Eau Claire Curling Club


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – It has already been an exciting winter for the Eau Claire Curling Club and there is plenty of excitement to come, including the club hosting the Junior Nationals in late March.
Last week, club member Benji Paral and his teammate Ella Wendling of Wausau took home the bronze medal in mixed doubles at the Youth Olympic games in South Korea.
At the same time in New Jersey, Caden Hebert and Jackson Bestland were competing against the countries best at the National Championships,.
And earlier this month Paral, Bestland and Hebert, along with Shane Nelson and Jack Wendlandt took home the U-18 title for Team Hebert..
A successful winter so far for the club members.
“I don’t know, we just went in there to have fun and we came out of the trials with the win, and then we went to the same into the Olympics with the same mindset,” says Benji Paral. “Just having a blast on the ice and playing well.”
“It’s pretty surreal,” says Jackson Bestland. “Playing against like the Olympic gold medalists and national teams, I mean, they’re all super nice and they’re great people also.”
“It was a lot of fun to play against all those good teams,” says Caden Hebert. “I mean, I got to play against a former gold medalist Olympian, and we got we lost. But, you know, it was a ton of fun to play against those guys and see what the next level really is.”
1998 Olympian Mike Peplinski is Team Hebert’s coach and he knows he has something special in this group that has grown up on the ice together.
“I think the one thing I asked when we started is if you really want this, we can accomplish some really great things,” says Mike Peplinksi. “And here we are five years later, and it’s kind of mind boggling to me how fast they’ve gotten this far. I just hope it continues. Right. Like they’re very intelligent kids, they’re very driven and they’ve seen some success. Now that can take them a long ways in sport.”
Peplinski knows it takes all the members of the team for them to be successful.
“Jack Wentland, our lead continues to to just do things on the ground. He’s he’s working out and one of the other coaches called him a tank because of his just ability to sweep a curling rock and do amazing things with it. Our fifth of Shane Nelson, who does everything we ask for when we need him, has been just an incredible journey for all of them.”
The club members are excited for have the Junior National Championship on their home ice March 25th-30th. Team Hebert took silver last year, but will vye for gold as hosts this year.
“I’m really excited personally to get to play in my own club with my own fans and all the guys that know me here,” says Caden Hebert. “It’ll be a ton of fun and I know the ice is going to be great and it’ll be a great curling experience.”


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