Bobcats take on Spring Meet

Paul Smith’s College junior Valerie Hoffman, right, practices the crosscut saw during team practice last spring. (Enterprise file photo — Justin A. Levine)

PAUL SMITHS — Paul Smith’s College will host the largest collegiate timber sports event in the country on Friday and Saturday, and the Bobcats have a good chance of getting all the trophies.

The college is hosting the Woodsmen’s Spring Meet Conclave on campus, with action starting at 8 a.m. each day. The event, often referred to as the “Super Bowl” of collegiate timber sports, is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by Stihl Power Equipment.

The Paul Smith’s College woodsmen’s team (which is co-ed) is a force to be reckoned with, and regularly claims championships in these events. There will be more than a dozen colleges represented from around the Northeast, including colleges from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.

The Bobcats women enter the spring conclave undefeated on the season, and both the men’s and Jack and Jill teams placed first in a woodsmen’s meet at Alfred State earlier this month.

“It’s awesome! It’s a lot of work and has been pretty stressful at times. But it will all come together and there is really no better place to host the biggest meet of the year,” PSC senior Jesse Cutting said in an interview on the college’s athletics page. “Both the men’s and women’s (teams) were very close to winning their divisions last year but took second while the Jack and Jill team won. This year we have three teams that could win each division and our goal is to win all three trophies and get a clean sweep.

Ryan Bornt smiles before using his ax to cut through a log during woodsmen’s team practice at Paul Smith’s College Forestry Club Cabin last February. (Enterprise file photo — Justin A. Levine)

“Chopping and sawing are the big events that everyone associates with the woodsmen team and there will be plenty of it over the two days. But the whole event is going to be great. The northeast conclave is the most competitive in the country which makes for close races which is always fun.”

The events run the gamut of timber skills, from log and barrel rolling to sawing, canoeing and ax throwing. Athletes need to show accuracy, teamwork and, of course, brute strength.

Starting on Friday at 8 a.m., the opening ceremony leads into a full day of activity. The morning events include individual and team sawing as well as barrel splitting.

After lunch, athletes will display their strength and accuracy with events like the team log roll and pulp throwing. The ax men will also show off their skills in the block chop. At 3 p.m., the canoeing races take place, followed by the team packboard relay at 5.

On Saturday, spectators will be treated to displays of ax throwing, disc stacking and pole climbing. Events will take place throughout the day Saturday, and at 2 p.m. the Stihl Collegiate Challenge will take place with the men’s and women’s individual events. Awards and the closing ceremony will be at 5 p.m.

The woodsmen’s team is the largest athletic team at Paul Smith’s. With about 40 athletes, coach Brett McLeod can field both men’s and women’s teams, one or two “Jack and Jill” teams and still have a couple of alternates left over.

This will be the 71st annual spring meet, which moves to different host locations each year. Paul Smith’s Billy Allen won the championship last year, but has since graduated. The meet is one of five qualifiers nation-wide for the championships in Wisconsin this summer.