And off in the woods...
Erik Baish '12 competes in the pulp toss. This weekend the woodsmen will host the Jack and Jill meet at Colby.
When I think of the Colby Woodsmen’s Team, the opening lines from Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic 1955 coal mining song, “Sixteen Tons,” often come to mind:
“Some people say a man is made out of mud/Well a poor man’s made outta muscle and blood.”
Our strapping woodsmen’s team has muscle and blood to spare, a surfeit that comes in handy in their axe-swinging, horizontal-chopping, cross-cutting efforts. They will see their fair amount of mud at this Saturday’s Mud Meet as well. The penultimate meet of the year, the Mud Meet represents an opportunity for competitors to ply their trade in front of a home crowd, while also building up some steam for the season-ending Spring Meet against more than 25 other schools at Dartmouth College on April 28. It has been an interesting journey to this point.
“Your woodsman is a little more free-spirited than the average Colby student,” says Erik Baish ’12. What sets the woodsmen apart from other [sports] teams is their easygoing spirit and camaraderie, even as they contend at the highest level. They find a way to embrace individual personality within team competition, in stark contrast to the conventionality, quasi-fascist conformity and impersonality that can be seen in other team sports. But don’t doubt the seriousness with which they engage in timbersport— when saws, axes and flame are involved, it’s deadly business.
The 2011-2012 season has been a vision quest of sorts for the Colby woodsmen. As is often the case for many collegiate sports teams, the Woodsmen lost a fair amount of talent to graduation, and a major question mark entering this year was how they would respond, and who would step up and fill that void.
Five meets later, it is clear that this year’s woodsmen are as strong a team as any. Their first three meets were invitationals at Unity College and the University of New Hampshire (UNH), in addition to the George Bean Memorial Lumberjack Meet in New Portland, Maine. The woodsmen might be the only team at Colby that competes internationally. After that initial northeastern barnstorming tour, they took their talents to southern Canada for the University of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia meets, racking up strong finishes and high scores across all events. Although the entire team has performed well, Cody Anderson ’13 and Trevor Jones ’12 deserve special accolades for their dominance as a pole-climbing duo, finishing 1-2 at several meets.
The Woodsmen team that enters this Saturday’s Mud Meet is poised to dominate on its own turf, with a special home advantage. Baish, winner of the chainsaw-disc stack at UNH, notes that the Mud Meet “is the only meet that is totally Jack and Jill. All team events are three guys and three girls, as opposed to teams of six men or six women.” This special rule makes disciplines like the bowsaw and pulp toss (check it out on YouTube) must-watch events. Keep an eye out for the burling (log-roll) as well. At last year’s Mud Meet, Colby burlers rolled to a 1-2-3 finish, sweeping the podium.
Famed industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.” Come April 14, Colby’s very own Woodsmen Team will be heating up the entire campus at their very own Mud Meet. Lumber beware.