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USLRA NEWS



The big 6-0 in Hayward

The Lumberjack World Championships celebrate year number 60 in Hayward this week, and with it, come a compelling group of young Log Rollers and Boom Runners looking to make their own history – and quite possibly match or surpass the standard already set by some of the greats over the past 60 years.

             

    10 time World champion Jubiel Wickheim                 2018 LWC winner Tanner Hallett

As the 2019 Lumberjack World Championships kick off in Hayward, WI this week, the names of yesteryear stick out with ease: The late Jubiel Wickheim, who won the first Log Rolling World Championships held in Hayward in 1960, one of 10 titles on his resume. The Salzman siblings, JR and Tina, who each won an astonishing 10 Log Rolling championships. Or the Scheer siblings, Fred and Judy, who combined for 11 titles. And the list goes on: Bette Ellis and Cindy Cook battling in the 1960’s. Phil Scott dominating the 70’s. Dan McDonough and Bonnie Pendleton racking up titles in the 80’s. And more recently, Brian Duffy, Darren Hudson, and Shana Martin, who each have multiple World Titles since 1990. In the Boom Run, names like Charlie Fenton, Will and Abby Hoeschler, and Mandy Erdmann stick out -- And of course, there are those ultra gifted athletes, such as Jamie Fischer and Jenny Atkinson, who have collected numerous titles on both the log and the Boom Run.

And now comes a new age wave, a group of 18-25 year olds who have already staked their claim to make a run at those listed above. When asked just over a year ago if the young guns on the men’s side were gaining on some of the top veterans, Fischer’s explanation said it all: “No, they’re not gaining on us, they’re already here,” said Fischer. A month later, 19-year old Tanner Hallett won his first World title. Heading in this week, the top three ranked rollers on both the men’s and women’s pro circuit are all younger than 25 years old. Meredith Ingbretson, 24, has already run her way to five boom titles, and two Log Rolling Championships. Other than perhaps Atkinson, Ingbretson is already, arguably the best women’s Boom/Log Roller combo athlete in the 60 year history of the Lumberjack World Championships. Anthony Polentini, who turns 18 this month, ran a blistering 13.48 last year in Hayward, winning his first men’s boom title, and is currently the second ranked pro log roller. Polentini is a long way from Fischer’s four Log Rolling world titles and record eight boom championships, but certainly has the potential to rack up titles in both events for years to come.

Since winning the 2018 Log rolling World Championship, the current number one ranked Hallett has been nearly unstoppable in 2019, winning all five pro tournaments this year, holding off both Polentini, along with 20 year old Connor Birdsong, who’s currently ranked third among the men. Among those impressed with Hallett’s hot start is five time World Champion Brian Duffy, who himself, will roll for the final time this weekend. “I enjoy watching Tanner,” says Duffy. “As far as the current athletes (on the men’s side), I enjoy watching Tanner, Anthony, and Connor battle it out from contest to contest. They all have many great years of rolling left.”

On the women’s side, 18 year old Livi Pappadopoulos has carved through the women’s field since turning pro 14 months ago. Pappadopoulos, currently ranked number one in the world, has won 10 of the 11 pro tournaments she’s competed in, including last year’s World Championship in Hayward. Meanwhile, 21-year old Ellie Davenport has withstood the test of time, perhaps more consistently than any man or woman among those in the under 25 group. Davenport’s 14 pro Log Rolling victories are the most in the group, and her success on championship Saturday in Hayward has been stellar, including a championship in 2016.

The momentum of this young group has been building for several years. Now they’ve arrived. And as the Lumberjack Bowl turns 60 this week, there’s clearly some incredible history to look back on. And with a group of highly talented young athletes hitting their stride, there’s a lot to look forward to as well.

WHO TO WATCH – MEN

Tanner Hallett - Overwhelming favorite might be the best way to describe the 20 year old Hallett heading in this week at Hayward. Hallett’s five pro wins this year give him eight since turning pro in 2017. Since 2006, only JR Salzman and Darren Hudson have won more pro tournaments. Hallett’s size and speed stand out on the log, but his attention to detail and focus in preparation might be his best attributes. Hallett, who took home the 2018 World championship, looks to become only the 10th man to win multiple world titles, since World Championships came to Hayward in 1960.

Anthony Polentini - Polentini’s speed and athleticism on the log should put him in position to win this week. His three pro wins last year included a finals victory over Hallett at the Minnesota State Championships, which puts him in rare company among those who have had success against the defending champ. Polentini, currently ranked second, heads in with three runner up finishes this year and has cracked the top 3 nine times his career. Polentini is also among the favorites to win the men’s Boom run this year, after taking the title last summer – although past boom champions Charlie Fenton and Marcel Scott should provide stiff competition.

Connor Birdsong - The 20 year old Birdsong has four top 3 finishes this year, and is a legitimate contender to win this week. His fiery competitiveness and endurance are his best attributes. Birdsong went toe to toe with Hallett in the finals last year, before settling for second. He also beat Hallett at the Three Rivers Roleo last year. The Onalaska, WI native heads to the lumberjack Bowl with four career pro wins, and should be in the mix to win his first in Hayward this weekend.

Shane Burns - After bulking up this winter and adding strength, Burns has shot up the rankings this summer, and become a legit contender. Now ranked fourth in the world, The 21-year old knocked off Birdsong in Madison last month on his way to a third place finish, and has finished no worse than fourth this season. He’ll have a tough road to the finals this weekend, but could be a dark horse candidate to make a deep run.

Garrick Birdsong - Birdsong enters action this week as the sixth ranked pro in the world, and should be a tough out for the top contenders. The 22-year old has a fourth place finish this year at the US Open and a couple of fifth place finishes as well. Birdsong, who has three career pro wins, came in ninth place last year in Hayward, following a sixth place finish in 2017.

Cassidy Scheer - Not likely a favorite to win a log rolling title this week, but Scheer solidified himself as perhaps the top overall Lumberjack on the planet this past week by locking down the 2019 Stihl Timbersports Men’s Championship. On the log, Scheer brings an attack dog style that should make him a tough matchup against anybody. Scheer won’t go toe to toe with the top contenders for long, but his aggressive style makes him dangerous early in falls. He’s also among the best directional splashers in the men’s field. Scheer finished seventh last year at LWC.

Torrin Hallett - Hallett heads in this week ranked ninth, but might be rolling much better than his current ranking. Hallett has consistently cracked the top five this summer, including an impressive fourth place finish at the La Crosse Open. Despite not challenging for a top spot, he’s regularly gotten falls against several top contenders. Look for Torrin to be a tough out in the early rounds and possibly a major factor in the back bracket this year.

Tom Mengwasser - Among those ranked outside the top five, Menwasser might have the best shot to make a run to championship Saturday. His strength and skill level is close, if not even, with several of the top ranked rollers in this year’s field. Mengwasser, who has two career top three finishes, came in fifth at this year’s Midwest Championship. Last year, he finished fourth in both Madison and The Three Rivers Roleo, before coming in fifth at LWC. Mengwasser heads in this week ranked 10th in the world, but could finish considerably higher.

Matt Delaney - The Minneapolis area native is currently ranked 11th in the world, and continues to improve with each year. Delaney, who’s finished seventh twice this year, has grabbed falls against some of the top contenders this summer and continues to push even the best in the men’s field. Delaney came in tied for ninth last year at LWC.

Brian Duffy - Duffy Might be a long shot to win this weekend, but no question, all eyes will be on the five time world champ, as he rolls in his last ever Lumberjack World Championships. Now 50 years old, Duffy plans on rolling professionally for the final time this week. The Hayward, WI native won five titles in the 1990’s, and sites his 1994 finals comeback win as his biggest fete. Down two falls, he rallied to come back and win what would be his third World Title. Duffy, who famously sparred with nine time Champion Dan McDonough for over a decade, won in 1991 and ’92, before losing to McDonough in 1993. Duffy’s 1994 win kicked off a string of three more World titles.


Five time world champion Brian Duffy, who will retire following the
World Championships this year


WHO TO WATCH -- WOMEN

Livi Pappadopoulos - The 18-year old Pappadopoulos blew the Log Rolling world away with an undefeated season in 2018, winning all seven tournaments she entered, including the ’18 World Championship. The Holmen, WI native enters 2019 ranked number one in the world, and while she remains the favorite to win this week, the competition has stiffened up. 2016 World Champ Ellie Davenport has two tournament wins in 2019, including one head to head victory against Pappadopoulos. Top contenders Meredith Ingbretson, Shana Verstegen, and Emily Christopherson are also lurking this week. Pappadopoulos has wins this year at The Midwest Championships, US Open, and Three Rivers Roleo – she’s now got a remarkable 10 career victories in her first 11 pro events.


The top two seeds on the women’s side, Livi Pappadopoulos and
Ellie Davenport, competing in the semi-finals at last year’s LWC



Ellie Davenport - The 21-year old Minnesota native has 14 career pro wins, trailing only Verstegen among current competitors. Davenport, who’s won the last two pro tournaments this summer (La Crosse Open, Namekagon), appears to be on a collision course with Pappadopoulos in the finals, but her side of the bracket won’t be easy. Former LWC champs Ingbretson, Verstegen, and Gretchen Greene are all possibilities before championship Saturday. In terms of speed and skill, Davenport is among the best on the women’s side, and should be a strong contender to win her second World title this week.

Meredith Ingbretson - The Hayward, WI native has missed part of 2019 due to injury, but should be in the mix to win her third Log Rolling World Championship this week. The 24-year old finished second last year, and has made it to the finals three of the last four years. Ingbretson brings a blend of power, strong technique, and a highly competitive streak into action this week. Pappadopoulos and Davenport have garnered much of the attention this summer, but don’t count out Ingbretson.

Emily Christopherson - Christopherson, known on the circuit as one of the hardest working pros, was back on the water practicing less than a week after getting married on July 20. The 31-year old Portland, Oregon native is having an outstanding summer, with three third place finishes so far. Christopherson, the #4 seed this week, has cracked the top 3 four times at LWC, including 2016, when she finished second to Davenport. She’s won six pro tournaments in her career.

Olivia Judd - Judd has had a solid 2019 summer, with two top 5 finishes, following a tie for fifth at last year’s Lumberjack World Championships. Judd should be a strong contender this week, and has a good chance at cracking the top 5 for the second straight year.

Katie Burke – Burke, who comes in this week as the 6 seed, has consistently been a strong contender at The Lumberjack World Championships for more than a decade now, both as a roller and boom runner. Burke came in seventh last year in Hayward, and second in the Boom run. Look for her to be in the mix at both events this week.

Shana (Martin) Verstegen - The Madison native has won four Log Rolling World Championships in her career, and is among the best rollers of all time. Verstegen, who won her last title in 2012, has been competitive this year, and should be in the mix to make a run to championship Saturday. She’s had a couple of top three finishes this summer, including second place at the La Crosse Open, and third at The Midwest Championships.

Abby (Hoeschler) Delaney - Delaney is among the best Log rolling/Boom runner combo athletes in the field this year. Her resume includes Five Boom Run titles at LWC and five overall pro victories. Look for Delaney to make a run at Boom title number six this week, and possibly be in the mix to win her first Log Rolling World Championship in Hayward. On the log this summer, Delaney has a fifth place finish in Madison, and fourth place at the Three Rivers Roleo.

Haley Penning - The third year pro from Hayward, WI is ranked ninth heading into action this week. Penning came in a strong fifth at last year’s World Championships and should be in the mix to crack the top five again in 2019.

Jenny Atkinson - In her third decade as a pro, Atkinson is back at LWC for 2019. The four time World Champion has not competed yet this summer, but will be in the field this week. Atkinson is currently ranked 11th in the world. She finished tied for 9th last year.


Log Rolling Interview

Katie Burke and Tanner Hallet discuss log rolling on TMJ4.

WATCH INTERVIEW



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