BEACON FALLS — In only its second year, Woodland’s Bob Murdy thinks the school’s young Axe Games have already turned into “Connecticut’s largest annual timbersports competition.”
About 60 competitors from Woodland and Wamogo competed at the second annual competition last Friday on Woodland’s soccer field. Athletes competed in five events: bow saw (men’s and women’s), log roll, cross-cut (men’s, women’s, and Jack and Jill), axe throw, and pulp toss (men’s and women’s).
“The event was great,” Murdy said. “I saw the team’s base level of skills really improve over last year. We just have a stronger team. We’ve had some Wamogo alumni and collegiate competitors come and help train the team, such as Matt Squires. Bringing in outside help has helped raise the expertise level.”
Woodland boasted four event winners, all in team events. Zac Bertrand and Doug Smith combined to win the log roll in 29.3 seconds, and Derek Jonikas and Zach Howson teamed up to win the men’s cross-cut in a blistering 4 seconds flat.
Pulp toss was a new event added for the second annual competition in which four-member squads teamed up to toss logs through designated gates. Woodland claimed victories in both the men’s and women’s events. The Hawks’ men’s team comprised Eric Wrogg, Joe Muccino, Bailey Dragon and Drew Spofford, and the women’s team was made up of Natalie Katrenya, Caitlyn Martin, Katelyn Hagen and Jill Plante.
Other Woodland competitors who finished among the top three in their events included Jonikas (second in men’s bow saw, 4.34 seconds), Dragon (third in men’s bow saw, 4.35), Bertrand and Smith (third in men’s cross-cut, 4.68), and Chris Manning (third in axe throw).
Bertrand, Smith, Jonikas and Howson are all juniors, so Murdy thinks “next year we will be even stronger.”
Murdy pointed to the growth of Woodland’s timber team. When he helped form the program in the fall of 2016, the Hawks had seven athletes at their first competition. Last Friday, 30 athletes competed, including seven females, four of whom won gold in the pulp toss.
“The women’s team is composed of freshmen through seniors who, despite the grade difference, found a groove together, really helped to encourage each other, and dominated pulp toss,” Murdy said.
The pulp toss was a big hit in its debut, Murdy added.
“The addition of pulp toss added a whole new level to the competition,” Murdy said. “Since each school has only two teams, the whole crowd and every student was screaming by the end. It’s just fun and it’s nice to add a four-person event to add some diversity.”
The event also included traditional senior night festivities as the Hawks honored 11 senior members, including Dragon and Carlo DellaValle, the team’s captains.
“We have just been granted the ability to (varsity) letter in timber team, so after the competition we had a banquet and gave out letters to those who qualified,” Murdy said. “Seniors had their lockers and cars decorated, signs at their houses, and other honors all done by juniors Natalie Katrenya and Jill Plante.”
The Hawks have already named Jonikas next year’s captain, and a third annual Woodland Axe Games will be in the works for next spring.
Bow saw (men’s)
1 Steven Romano-Wamogo 4.33 seconds
2 Derek Jonikas-Woodland 4.34
3 Bailey Dragon-Woodland 4.35
Bow Saw (women’s)
1 Sara Tobin-Wamogo 7.14
2 Melissa Demetri-Wamogo 8.37
3 Caitlin Ward-Wamogo 8.39
1 Zac Bertrand/Doug Smith-Woodland 29.30
2 Steven Romano/Sara Tobin-Wamogo 32.02
3 Alec Levigne/Andrew Florio-Wamogo 42.14
1 Melissa Demetri/ Isabella Giansanti-Wamogo 5.17
2 Lila Rubano/Sammy Charnowski-Wamogo 8.13
3 Lauren Santoro/Makenzie Ferrier-Wamogo 8.66
1 Derek Jonikas/Zach Howson Woodland-4.00
2 Chris Joray/Alex Levigne Wamogo-4.21
3 Zac Bertrand/Doug Smith Woodland-4.68
Crosscut Jack & Jill
1 Caitlin Ward/Thomas Milvihill Wamogo-6.23
2 Heather Turnell/ Connor Landon Wamogo-6.24
3 Steven Romano/Sara Tobin Wamogo-6.43
1 Chris Joray-Wamogo
2 Angel St. Germain-Wamogo
3 Chris Manning-Woodland
Pulp Toss (4 person, women’s)
1 Natalie Katrenya, Caitlyn Martin, Katelyn Hagen-Woodland
Pulp Toss (4 person, men’s)
1 Eric Wrogg, Joe Muccino, Bailey Dragon, Drew Spofford-Woodland