Underdog living up to his name

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Until yesterday, Riley DeBlonde's claim to fame was that he attended the 1984 Brier and world championship -- sort of -- and was named after one of the curlers.

His mother Diana was carrying him at the time, and her brother Russ Wookey was the lead on Mike Riley's 1984 Brier winner out of Winnipeg, a team that went on to represent Canada at the worlds in Duluth, Minn.

"That's part of the reason he's named Riley," Diana said while watching her now 21-year-old son curl in the annual MCA Bonspiel.

Yesterday, DeBlonde carved himself a new niche in local curling folklore while skipping a team out of Heather. The club curler, who never so much as qualified for a provincial junior championship, knocked off defending grand aggregate and Safeway Select champion Randy Dutiaume 8-7 in a main event game.

"That was a huge win," said DeBlonde, who is curling this week with Michael Tait, Gilles Proulx, Joseph Guay and Phil Leneal. "I didn't expect to beat these guys. They got third place in the Brier last year, they are the Select champions. I'm just lucky that my team played really well."

It's not like the DeBlonde name is unfamiliar to curlers in these parts. Riley's father Garry and uncle Clare played together in two Briers (1980 with Earle Morris skipping and 1976 with Clare skipping) and a senior men's Canadian championship (1998).

Oddly enough, Garry and Clare have played in more than 30 MCA Bonspiels apiece, but they are sitting out this year.

"It's kind of funny actually," said Riley, who also beat Don Ezepchuk of the Heather 10-3 yesterday before trying to extend his winning streak to four games against Howard Doerksen of Pembina in last night's late draw.

"People always ask me if I'm Clare's son or Garry's son, so I'm always sort of given that label. It's nice to get out there and win a few games of my own so that people can think of me as Riley DeBlonde instead of Garry's son or Clare's nephew."

The win against Dutiaume was no easy task.

"It's not that they played badly," DeBlonde said of his opponents. "They didn't really miss a lot of shots, but we played just as well as they did. It was neck and neck the whole way, and we just came out on top."

DeBlonde even had to make a takeout through a small port in the 10th to score two and earn victory.

"I'm glad it was me," he said of taking out the defending champion in the first round.

"We just want to be competitive. We just came in for fun and some experience.

"We didn't think we'd beat Randy Dutiaume ... we didn't even buy our competitor cards."

That means no matter how well they do in this event, they can't qualify for the Safeway Select.

Somehow, it seems they've already got what they came for anyway.

PEBBLES: Besides Dutiaume, the only other big name to drop down to one leg in the main events was Valour Road's David Bohn, who already has a Select berth. Bill Kuran, the 10th seed in the city zones also suffered his first loss yesterday, while Valour Road's Andrew Wickman, who was the 11th seed in the Select zones, is out of both main events.


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