PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. -- With a seven-point lead going into the final event, the hot saw, Arden Cogar Jr.'s chances of defending his title in the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series presented by Ram Trucks were all but certain.
In the hot saw, however, nothing is certain. Five of the 10 competitors in Pool B failed to post a time on Friday, either because of a mechanical failure or not completing the required three complete cuts in a 19-inch white pine log.
But by the time Cogar stepped to the log for the hot saw, the 2012 U.S. Championship was already in hand. He'd just watched his closest competitor, third-cousin Matt Cogar, finish second in the previous heat.
And that turned out to be a blessing. Cogar couldn't get his hot saw started initially. He finished last in the event, in 37.895 seconds, but that was enough. Cogar salvaged a point in the hot saw to finish the six disciplines with 39. Matt Cogar was second with 34 points after having his worst finish of the day's six events -- sixth place.
Dave Jewett rallied from a disappointing start to win two of the last three events, including the hot saw in 6.100 seconds. He finished third overall with 30 points.
Cogar literally ended his day with a bang -- to the head. His hot saw starting cord is attached to a 12-inch crescent wrench. On one of his false starts, the wrench bounced off his noggin.
"That's harder than my wife can hit," laughed Cogar. "That's the first time that saw hasn't started."
Cogar got a new hot saw a year ago, nicknamed "Lottie," that has been a key to his success. But its failure Saturday didn't dampen Cogar's spirits.
"I couldn't expect to do any better," he said. "I've been blessed and I'm thankful. That’s the first time it hasn’t started.."
The U.S. championship was the fourth of Cogar's career. His day started well, topping the other seven finalists in the springboard chop. He then finished second in the stock saw.
With Matt second, Cogars topped the points and continued their assault in the standing block. Arden eclipsed his season’s best time of 15.42 seconds with 14.940.
"I'm amped up right now,” he said after the event. “I knew when I heard that time that I'd broken my own record. I got a very good cut.”
Arden built some breathing room with a second in the single buck saw while Matt was fifth, falling behind 30-24. Arden and Matt went 1-2 in the underhand, making it 38-31.
"I made 27 hits in 20 seconds," Arden said while pointing into the grandstands at the Great Smoky Mountain Lumberjack Feud. "I cut that for my dad, and it's just like he would have done, would have taught me. I just penned my ears back and went for it."
A 7-point lead with the hot saw looming didn’t put Matt out of championship contention, but he needed the win for 8 points and Arden to DQ.
It almost happened, but with several others already posting better times than Matt, Arden knew he would win even if he didn’t get Lottie started.
“I wanted to finish it out,” he said outside standing next to the Dodge Ram pickup he was awarded as he signed autographs. “Yeah, I guess this is mine.”
Final point standings
1 Arden Cogar Jr. 39
2. Matt Cogar 34
3. Dave Jewett 30
4. Branden Sirguy 25
5. Mel Lentz 24
6. Carson Bosworth 23
6. Mike Slingerland 23
8. Richard Jordan 17