The Cal Poly Collegiate Timbersports Team competed at the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference in Anderson, CA, on Feb. 10-11. Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Caufield

The Cal Poly Collegiate Timbersports Team bucked, sawed and underhand chopped their way through the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference in Anderson, CA, on Feb. 10-11, scoring first in multiple categories.

The team used this competition as an opportunity for new members to gain some experience. 

Cal Poly logging team president and forestry senior Stephen Caufield said he wanted to “let the newer students compete. Of the 16 we brought, eight of them competed, and six of those eight had never competed before.”

The event was held at the Shasta District Fairgrounds in a large arena comprised of competition spaces and corporate logging booths. There were also training stations for competitors to receive feedback from professionals on their form and different logging techniques. 

Caufield said he hopes the newcomers can “take those tips and really focus on those things when practicing their events.”

Mechanical engineering sophomore Oliver Ries said working with the professionals was his favorite part of the event. 

“I learned how to chop properly, and I also learned how to get really low when double bucking,” Ries said. 

Though this was Ries’ first competition, he placed first in the axe-throwing category for men on Friday, scoring 13 points. 

In axe throwing, the competitor stands 20 feet from the target, getting three throws to score as many points as they can. Forestry freshman Jessica Conley placed second for women on Friday, scoring five points.

Similar to axe-throwing is speed axe-throwing where the participant gets 30 seconds to score as many points as they can with the same axe and unlimited throws. On Friday, forestry junior Kelly Schwenger placed first scoring 18 points.

Schwenger and agricultural systems management sophomore Ben Holtzen placed first in their prospective categories for the underhand chop on Friday. 

The underhand chop involves standing on a small block of wood and chopping it until it splits. The competitor chops one side until the cut reaches about halfway, then flips the block and continues chopping. Holtzen completed his cut in 43.81 seconds, beating second place by 20 seconds, and Schwenger finished hers in 1 minute and 38 seconds.

Also on Friday, Schwenger placed first with forestry senior Mary Cizin in double-bucking, where teams of two work together to cut a slab off a log using a buck saw, a long saw with handles on both ends. Schwenger and Cizin finished their cut at 27.42 seconds, about 8 seconds faster than second place.

In single-bucking, similar to double bucking but with one person competing, Cizin placed first on Friday with a time of 1:01. On Saturday, Holtzen placed second with 48.95 seconds, and Schwenger placed 2nd with a time of 1:07.

Other events in this collegiate competition were Jack and Jill, which is the same as double-bucking, but with male and female teammates and stock/power saw, where a competitor uses a chainsaw to cut a slab, or “cookie,” off a log.

Another popular event is choker setting, where competitors race to carry a choker through an obstacle course and set it on a log. A choker is a steel rod, similar to a zip tie, used for attaching logs to be pulled by a skidder, a tractor-like machine with a large claw used for carrying logs.

Cal Poly did not win first overall, but the team is excited to improve at their upcoming competitions. This conference was one of two collegiate competitions preceding the Association of Western Forestry Clubs Logging Conclave (AWFC) at Oregon State University in April.

Their next competition is at the Redwood Region Logging Conference from March 16-18 in Ukiah, CA.