PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. -- As is often the case, the hot saw competition dealt out more misery than joy Friday. And it hurt even more because it was the U.S. Championship of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series presented by Ram Trucks.
In the day’s final event, Richard Jordan of Sterling, Conn., leaped from seventh place into the fourth and final qualifying spot thanks to his third-place performance in the hot saw. Mike Slingerland joined the ranks of the happy lumberjacks Friday when he secured the third place Pool B slot for the day, thanks to his fourth-place finish.
But their elation came at the expense of several others' exasperation.
Leading the pack of five competitors who failed to finish the hot saw were Mike Sullivan, Nathan Waterfield and Matt Marks.
That trio was positioned in third through fifth place going into the event. Sullivan didn't complete the required three cuts and scored no points with a disqualification. Waterfield, who won the springboard and was in second place through four events, didn't finish after the chain came off his hot saw. Marks, who was one point out of the top four going into the hot saw, also suffered a DQ.
The top four from each of two 10-man pools advances to Saturday’s final of the STS U.S. Championship, the winner earning a Dodge Ram truck and trip to the World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, June 7-8.
In Pool A, the story lines were on opposite ends of the final standings. At the top was Branden Sirguy.
Last man in was Dave Jewett, who led the overall standings for the final two disciplines, but was disqualified in the hot saw.
"For me it was all about being consistent," said Sirguy, 37, of Port Angeles, Wash. "I was consistent all day long and performed at or near my ability."
"It's just disgusting," he said. "It was a rookie mistake."
STS TV analyst Kevin Holtz called his friend a "head case." Holtz said Jewett can have a hard time shaking his mistakes, but he’ll have to when the final eight begin cutting Saturday at noon with the title to be decided.
Sirguy indeed was consistent. He finished in the middle of the pack for the first four events but gradually accrued points. He made his big move by winning the underhand chop.
Sirguy scored 42 overall points to lead Pool A. Arden Cogar Jr. tanked in the first two disciplines then began his comeback in championship fashion. The defending STS U.S. Champion rebounded in one of his strongest events, the standing block. He won it with a time of 18 seconds. He went on to finish second in the single buck and the underhand.
In Pool B, "Hot Saw" Harry Burnsworth almost advanced after being eighth entering the final event. He won the hot saw with a time of 6.23 seconds.
Matt Cogar put the finishing touch on a stellar day by taking second in 8.6 seconds. Cogar showed that he's a serious contender for the U.S. title tomorrow by scoring 56 points in the six events, only four points shy of a perfect mark.
"It was a really good day," Cogar said. "I hope I can do the same thing (Saturday), build up enough points in the other events so I don't have to win the hot saw. The hot saw is coming along for me. It's not my best event, but it's a lot better than it used to be."
Carson Bosworth took the No. 2 qualifying spot in Pool B with a total of 35 points. He also DQ'd in the hot saw. That left him with a one point margin over Slingerland, two points over Jordan and three points away from being another frustrated lumberjack.
David Moses of Snoqualmie, Wash., should get an award for the grittiest performance of the day. Moses was injured when he fell from his first springboard in the day's opening event.
"I sprained my ankle and did something to my calf," Moses said. "It's black-and-blue and swelled up pretty bad. I just had to grit my teeth and struggle through the rest of the day."
Moses' limped through the final five events and did manage to post a qualifying time for the hot saw, which put him in sixth place for the event. Moses was thought to have a good chance at qualifying for the finals after his dominating performance in the Western Regional.
RESULTS (Top four advance to Saturday’s final round)
1. Branden Sirguy 42
2. Arden Cogar Jr. 41
3. Mel Lentz 40
4. Dave Jewett 38
5. Matt Slingerland 36
6. Rob Waibel 30
7. Paul Cogar 28
8. Mike Eash 24
9. Mike Forester 24
10. Warrick Hallett 20\
1. Matt Cogar 56
2. Carson Bosworth 35
3. Mike Slingerland 34
4. Richard Jordan 33
5. Harry Burnsworth 32
6. Mike Sullivan 31
7. Nathan Waterfield 31
8. Matt Marks 30
9. David Moses 19
10. Jeff Skirvin 14