The saw must go on

Jones competes in another sawing event, pre injury.

It was a beautiful, fall Flagstaff day, and senior Adeline Jones was out bouldering. With Choptoberfest just two-and-a-half weeks away, a logging sports competition hosted by Colorado State University, Jones was hoping to get in a good workout and continue to build up her arm strength.  

Then, she slipped on a foot hold and dislocated her shoulder.  

The injury was devastating. As the athletic captain of NAU’s Logging Sports Team, she had trained three days a week until sundown with the roughly 25 student athletes who make up NAU’s Logging Sports Team to prepare for the competition. She was one of 14 who would compete in Fort Collins, and this would be her first competition as a captain, making it even more special.  

Jones practices for the pole climb event pre injury.

But now, this injury meant those months of work training in her events—the pole climb, obstacle pole, single buck, Jack-and-Jill and horizontal chop—were for nothing. 

Instead of getting down about her inability to use her arm, she used it as an opportunity to see what she could do—one-handed.  

“I am very passionate about this club and was determined to compete in whatever event I could,” Jones said. “It was more of a joke to see if I could do a single buck one-handed, but it actually turned out I was still capable.”  

With just a few one-handed practice runs under her belt, she decided to compete. 

Single buck is one of the most traditional of the logging sports events. Competitors use a large cross-cut saw, ranging in size between 5.5 to 7 feet in length, to saw a wood cookie off a large log. Whoever does it the fastest is dubbed the winner.  

Jones has competed in the traditional single buck event for two-and-a-half years. But never one-handed. 

In the days leading up to the competition, she was stressed. It wasn’t so much about the competition—she had already accepted that she was just there to have fun—but by the duties and responsibilities associated with being the athletic captain.  

As a captain, not only is she responsible for training new and old members, but also coordinating and managing the logistics of the team. 

“My main goal was to have fun with everything and make sure the rest of the team was having a successful, fun and safe time as well, so I wasn’t really thinking about my events,” Jones said. “The morning of my event, I went in with the expectation of just finishing so I wasn’t too worried about doing well.” 

Jones competes in the single buck competition at Choptoberfest, one handed.
Jones competes in Choptoberfest’s single buck competition, one handed.

On Oct. 9, the CSU Logging Sports Arena was bustling with nearly 100 competitors from schools throughout the western United States, including Northern Arizona University, University of Idaho, Montana State University, University of Montana, Oregon State University and Colorado State University. This was the largest Choptoberfest to date. 

In Jones’ single buck event, she was up against 13 competitors—each competing separately with a table of judges watching for form, time and ability to saw. Competitors wouldn’t know their scores and overall standings until later that day.  

Jones finished a lot faster than she or anyone else was expecting. But competing one-handed against capable two-handed competitors didn’t do her any favors. 

That afternoon, the scores were announced. Jones finished first. 

“This was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I am really proud of myself for not only competing, but for placing first, which is insane! I am so proud of everyone that competed at this event and thankful that I am a part of a club that I consider my family. The heart, drive and work that the new members have put in is astonishing and I look forward to the next competition.” 

Jones, who came to NAU for its internationally recognized forestry program, plans to start a career in wildland fire after she graduates in May. But before that, she hopes to compete one last time at the American Western Foresters Conference in April, the largest logging sports event in the U.S.—hopefully with both arms. 

“This club has been a big part of my life for almost all of my college experience, and even if I can’t compete at the level I’d like to, just being around the members, traveling to other schools and meeting a lot of amazing new friends is totally worth it for me.” 

Support the NAU Logging Sports team by donating to their Jacksfunder project, led by Jones. All proceeds go directly to the club to cover travel and competition fees, reducing the financial barrier for students to participate.

NAU's Logging Sports team

Northern Arizona University Logo Carly Banks | NAU Communications
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NAU Communications