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On a roll: Hudson area log rollers shine at world championships

Popular Camp St. Croix counselor "Buffalo" Bob Jones (86) runs against Willy VandenLangenberg of St Paul in the log rolling competition men's semi pro division at the 2017 Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward July 20-22. Jones runs the log rolling program at Camp St. Croix and teaches log rolling at the Hudson YMCA during the school year. Photos courtesy Joanie Davenport1 / 4
Anna Davenport, left, and Ellie Davenport, right, hold their first- and third-place plaques, respectively, while their mom Joanie displays the giant heads that were a hit with fans at this year's Lumberjack World Championships, July 20-22 in Hayward.2 / 4
Tyler Berard of Hudson kills it on the boom with a dry run and a personal best time that earned him a fourth-place finish at the 2017 Lumberjack World Championships, July 20-22 in Hayward.3 / 4
Claire Keech of Hudson, right, displays her first-place plaque after winning the log rolling championship in the girls' U13 division at the 2017 Lumberjack World Championships, July 20-22 in Hayward, Wis. Next to Keech are third-place winner Brandi Collman of Cromwell, Minn., and runner-up Lexi Anderson of Madison.4 / 4

Several Hudson area log rollers competed at the 2017 Lumberjack World Championships, July 20-22 in Hayward, Wis., with a number turning in podium finishes in their events.

The Lumberjack World Championships is an international competition that has been called the Olympics of the North Woods, a venue where timber sport professionals compete for prizes and coveted titles. Sport divisions include sawing, chopping, climbing, log rolling and boom running.

Every year a group of St Croix Valley log rollers compete in the log rolling and boom running divisions at this historic event.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Davenport of Hudson won the women's semi-pro log rolling championship match, despite suffering a severe injury to her jaw and teeth during the boom run qualifiers the day before.

Davenport rolled and won her first match before rushing to an emergency dental visit with retired log roller and Hayward dentist Patrick Duffy. Using lots of ibuprofen, she rolled the following day and won the women's semi-pro championship match.

Anna's sister, 19-year-old Ellie Davenport, was unable to defend her 2016 world title but rolled and won the most exciting women's match of the championship against multiple-time world champion Shana Verstegen for a third-place podium finish.

"The skill level at this year's championship is so high," the University of St. Thomas student said. "Everyone wants first place, but I am happy just to be rolling at this caliber of competition, and hey, third place is still a good place to be!"

Jamie Fischer of Stillwater, who started the Hudson log rolling program at the Hudson YMCA over 10 years ago, came back after 10 years of retirement and was crowned champion of the men's boom run and log rolling, which has happened only three other times in the history of the Lumberjack World Championships.

Bear Atkinson, son of three-time world champion log roller Jenny Atkinson of Stillwater, rolled in his third tournament this summer and won the world championship in the U7 co-ed division. Jenny Atkinson has competed in the World Championships for over 25 years and still holds her own against new pros who are half her age.

Another up-and-coming log roller, Claire Keech of Hudson, won a championship in the girls U13 division. Keech rolls at the Hudson YMCA program on Tuesday and Thursday nights throughout the year.

"Buffalo" Bob Jones, who runs the log rolling program at Camp St. Croix and holds logs for new rollers at the Hudson YMCA throughout the school year on Tuesday and Thursday nights, competed in the men's semi pro division. Semi pro is a mixed bag of ages which made the bracket particularly challenging as Jones was rolling against men half his age. Still, he held his own and rolled some great matches.

Newly-married Tyler Berard of Hudson, a seasoned veteran of the Lumberjack World Championships, placed fourth in the men's bom run and seventh in log rolling, while Jacob Diethert of Somerset, a veteran of amateur Lumberjack World Championship log rolling, placed fourth in the U13 boys' division.

First-year pro Alicia Diethert of Somerset had several dry runs on the boom run, which pushed her into the qualifiers against some veteran competition.

This was the 58th annual Lumberjack World Championships held at Hayward's historic Lumberjack Bowl.

For more information on the Hudson YMCA log rolling program, contact the YMCA at 715-386-1616 or go to

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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