Local man chops and saws his way to lumberjack crown

BRANDON — Brandon can boast great community spirit, the best water in the state, and now, the first Ironjack.
Brandon native Garrett Gregorek, son of Derek and Liz Gregorek, won the first Collegiate Ironjack World Championships last month, a test of lumberjack skills hosted by the LumberJack Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Twelve competitors from four schools — Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smith’s, N.Y.; SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, N.Y.; Haywood Community College in Clyde, N.C.; and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville — competed for the title of Individual Collegiate Ironjack Champion as well as Overall Team Ironjack Champions and Team Relay Champions.
Gregorek, 20, is a junior at Paul Smith’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in forest and vegetation management. ?Derek Gregorek said his son, a 2010 graduate of Otter Valley Union High School, wants to work for a power company in right-of-way management or for the state or federal government in forest management
During the Ironjack contests, each competitor chopped, climbed, sawed and rolled their way through the weekend in a quest to be named the first collegiate Ironjack World Champion. The overall team score combined the scores of a given school’s individual scores over the course of the entire competition. The team champions and individual Collegiate Ironjack World Champion received a new MS 290 Farm Boss chainsaw from Stihl Inc. along with full safety gear, and the coveted title and the bragging rights that go with it.
The competition began Friday, Jan. 11, with six events, testing each competitor’s skills in the axe throw, standing block chop, obstacle pole race, single buck, tree climb and speed burl.
For those playing along at home, here is a glossary of what some of those events entail:
Standing Block Chop: Using a five-pound single-bit axe, competitors chop through a vertical standing aspen log 12 inches in diameter and 28 inches long.
Obstacle Pole Race: The obstacle pole, which is 36 feet long with an 8-inch end, rests on another log with the end five feet off of the ground. Starting with one hand on the starting point, the judge shouts “Go” and the contestant picks up a saw, mounts the pole below the bottom 4-foot mark, races up the log and starts the saw after crossing the top 5-foot mark then severs a disc at the end of the pole. Upon severing the disc, shuts off the saw before re-crossing the top 5-foot mark, races down the pole, one foot must be below the bottom 4-foot mark on the bottom of the log before touching the ground. No part of the foot may touch the bottom mark. Return to the starting point to stop the timer.
Single buck: A single sawyer uses a one-man bucking saw to cut through a 20-inch diameter white pine log
Axe Throw: Similar to darts. Literally throwing a hand axe from 20-feet out to the center of a stump 60 inches off the ground. The closer to the center bull’s eye on three attempts, the more points scored.
Pole Climb: Contestants race climb a single tree without branches anywhere from 30-40-feet high, ring a bell at the top, then descend. First person to the bottom wins.
Each athlete was required to compete in all six events and acquired points based on his or her times in each event to accumulate an overall score at the end of each round. The top six scores moved to the second round. Gregorek was in second place at the end of day one and was one of four competitors to move on to the second day of competition.
Gregorek came on strong with first-place finishes in the axe throw and the obstacle pole race. But it was his blistering time in the standing block chop that propelled him into first place and the title of Collegiate Ironjack World Champion.
“This competition is more than about winning,” said Lumberjack Feud Manager Andrew Mattison. “It’s about carrying on a legacy, a tradition of sportsmanship, and a celebration of those who built this country, of those who came before us, the legacy of the American Lumberjack.” 

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