SALEM, Ore. -- Matt Cogar was excited but realistic about his impressive first day of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Championship presented by Carhartt.
Cogar was the leader of a pack of eight lumberjacks who qualified for the second round at the Oregon State Fair on Friday.
Sixteen competed in all six of the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS lumberjack disciplines, earning points for their position. It was sort of a play-in game for the big show, which starts Saturday.
Of the 32 lumberjacks invited by STIHL to Oregon, 16 were awarded a bye and 16 chopped and sawed for eight spots in what will start as three pools of eight. On Saturday, the top four from each of those three pools will advance to a 12-man final on Sunday, when the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Series 25th anniversary champion will be crowned.
Joining Cogar in the second round will be Shane Jordan, Branden Sirguy, Mitch Hewitt, Mike Eash, Christophe Geissler, Robert Ebner and Mike Slingerland.
Maybe it's because he comes from a family of lumberjacks -- Arden Cogar and Arden Cogar Jr. both have long histories with the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS series -- but Matt Cogar seemed to have a healthy balance of excitement and perspective after beating the field by a healthy margin.
"I am happy to come out on top of this group, but I still have a lot of work to do tomorrow," he said.
Cogar also said competing today may not have been such a bad thing, and having a bye may not be such a great thing.
"It was good to get a feel for the wood and run my hot saw so I'll be more comfortable with it," Cogar said. "It also helped to work out some of the jitters."
He said his goal on Saturday, along with 23 other guys, is to make the finals, but in a sport that has more to do with the clock than your competitors, Cogar said it's important to stay focused on your own game.
"Really, more than anything, I just want to run clean and leave nothing on the table," he said. "If I can do that, I'll be satisfied."
Traditionally, the northeast has been the powerhouse of the five regions in the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate Series presented by Carhartt, and the southeast region has been the goat.
Logan Scarborough threw tradition out the window Friday.
By his own admission, "the day started slow," in the stock saw, but for a man who missed a southeast championship because of a stock saw DQ, just a clean run should be enough. That is especially true when you sweep the next three events like Scarborough did on Friday.
"I'm happy," he said with a half smile, "but my times weren't as good as they have been in practice. It's one thing when you're out chopping with your buddies but it's another thing doing it when all this is on the line."
"All this" includes a STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Collegiate championship, a trip to the world championship next week in Austria and an invitation to the 2011 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS Professional Series.
Scarborough was facing the champions from all five regional events, which took place this past spring, and one wildcard chosen by the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS staff as the top non-champion from the regionals.
The collegiate championship is not officially over because the top two from each discipline will compete head-to-head on Sunday to decide who gets first (6 points) and who gets second (5 points) for that particular discipline. But even if Scarborough loses all three of his head-to-heads on Sunday and second place Jon Preston (northeast) keeps his 6 points in the stock, Scarborough should have enough points to win the championship.
Those results will not become official until Sunday.
"Even if I do win the championship, I know I have a lot of work to do," he said. "There's a big gap between me and these pros. It's going to take a lot of work. Nothing comes easy in this sport."