Students take part in woodsmen contest

Timing and team work for WCU students in the women’s division crosscut saw contest, from left, Lola Cruz and Katie Harris.

Demonstrating timing and teamwork in the women’s division crosscut saw contest are (from left) Lola Cruz and Katie Harris.

Think of it as an Olympics for Paul Bunyan types.

A team of Wildlife and Forestry Club students from Western Carolina University joined other collegiate lumberjacks and lumberjills at the 20th annual John G. Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen Meet for competition that included axe throwing, log rolling, pole climbing, and chainsaw and crosscut sawing.

The competition was part of Forest Festival Day, a celebration of mountain traditions, heritage and crafts held recently at the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest.

WCU took first place in archery, men’s division chainsaw and quiz bowl; second place in dendrology and women’s division pole climb; third place in a timed event to build a fire and boil water, and single buck (one-person crosscut saw) contest. The team placed fourth in final overall standings.

The meet was organized by Haywood Community College, hosted by the U.S. Forest Service and sponsored by Stihl outdoor power tools. Participating colleges in addition to WCU and HCC were Montgomery Community College; North Carolina State University; Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, Virginia; Penn College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Winners in the quiz bowl contest, from left, are Aaron Perez of Brevard, Alex Wilson of Kernersville, Ben Lovedahl of Sylva, and Casey Young of Murphy. All four are WCU seniors in natural resource conservation and management.

Winners in the quiz bowl contest are (from left) Aaron Perez of Brevard, Alex Wilson of Kernersville, Ben Lovedahl of Sylva, and Casey Young of Murphy. All four are WCU seniors in natural resource conservation and management.

“It was our first attempt and we finished fourth, which is a pretty good start,” said Aaron Perez, WCU Wildlife and Forestry Club vice president. “Our team consisted of 14 in this competition. While most of our group are natural resource and conservation management majors, we also have biology, criminal justice, history and engineering students, from sophomores to seniors, participating. It is a really diverse group.”

Team members were coach Julie Doll, captain Aaron Perez, co-captain Ben Lovedahl, Alex Wilson, Andrew Godleski, Brandon Hyde, Casey Young, Cole Cantrell, Joe Franklin, John Luppino, Kaley Wisher, Katie Harris, Lola Cruz, Paul Carroll and Tyler Ellis. Advisers are Peter Bates, associate professor, and Ron Davis and Trip Krenz, assistant professors, of natural resource conservation and management.

Perez thanked WCU faculty and staff for being supportive, Nantahala Forest Products for donating wood for practice, and the HCC team and its coach Ben Knicely for guidance and training. For more information about the WCU Wildlife and Forestry Club, contact Perez at aperez5@catamount.wcu.edu.