Auburn University lumberjack Randy Jarzyniecki will advance to the national collegiate lumberjacking championship this summer after winning a regional qualifying event hosted by Mississippi State.
Mississippi State's Jeremy Copley, a 28-year-old senior wildlife and fisheries major from Williamson, W. Va., finished in second place.
Jarzyniecki, a senior forestry major from Millbrook, Ala., edged out Copley and eight other student lumberjacks from schools across the Southeast in three cutting-and-chopping events Thursday [March 25] to win the Stihl Timbersports Collegiate Invitational Qualifier at MSU's John Starr Memorial Forest.
"I was a little lucky, I guess," said Jarzyniecki, who finished first in the underhand chop (axe) with a time of 1:07 minutes, first in the stock saw (chainsaw) event with a time of 21:17 and second in the single buck (cross saw) event at 64:28.
He finished only a few points ahead of Copley, who was second in the underhand chop with a time of 1:23, second in the stock saw at 28:76 and fourth in the single buck at 51.99.
"I've been doing a lot of cutting and chopping,” said the 6-foot, 200-pound MSU student, who was competing in his first lumberjacking event.
Other competitors, in order of finish, included:
Joe Trihey of Clemson University, third; Michael Brafford of North Carolina State, fourth; David Chastain of Georgia, fifth; John Hart of Florida and Jarris Sperry of Virginia Tech, tied for sixth; Jason Porter of Arkansas-Monticello, eighth; Devin Seeliger of Stephen F. Austin State (Texas), ninth; and Dereck Warren of Oklahoma State, 10th.
An estimated 300 student lumberjacks from 14 universities were testing their skills Thursday through Saturday in a variety of logging events featured as part of the 47th Association of Southern Forestry Clubs' Conclave. MSU's student chapter of the Society of American Foresters hosted the event.
The Stihl Timbersports competition was among the opening-day activities. Other schools represented at the conclave were Alabama A&M, Louisiana Tech, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
As winner of the Stihl Timbersports competition, Jarzyniecki will advance along with three other winners of collegiate logging sports conclaves across the country to a national championship event Aug. 5-8 in Augusta, N.J. Other top finishers in the conclaves could be selected to advance, based on the discretion of judges.
"This sport is 150 years old. It's a gentlemen's sport and we're trying to promote that culture here,” said Donald Quigley of Durham, N.H., top judge for Thursday's event.
The New Jersey competition and another event in Lima, Ohio, Aug. 25-28, both featuring 28 professional lumberjacks, will be taped for broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 2. In order to maintain their amateur status, collegiate finalists do not compete against the professionals. They do vie, however, in three of the six pro-level events on the same stage, using the same wood and equipment.
"We're hopeful to find a new king of the lumberjacks,” said Roger Phelps, promotional communication manager for Stihl Inc.
He said other collegiate qualifying events were being held at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., Penn College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., and Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.