Lumberjacks flock to Morgantown for STIHL Timbersports competition and festival

MORGANTOWN — Arden Cogar Jr. comes from four generations of lumberjacks.

His father worked as a notcher at Cherry River Lumber Company in Richwood from 1954-1957.

“His job was to use a double-bitted ax and chop notches and trees for directional falling for eight to 10 hours per day,” Cogar said.

Like his father, Cogar has dedicated himself toward training as a lumberjack, and competing in  rugged, outdoor events like the STIHL Timbersports Series Mid-Atlantic and Southern qualifying competition that made its way to Morgantown on June 23.

“Even though we’re not doing that in duration, we are demonstrating the type of work fitness needed to be tough,” Cogar said. “That’s what it takes to be successful  in this sport.”

For the third consecutive year, hundreds of people packed into the Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park to witness some of the biggest names in lumberjacking, like Cogar, attempt to qualify for the national STIHL Timbersports competition in July in Wisconsin.

“We’ve got guys from all over the country here,” event organizer Labeth Hall said. “There are about 40 athletes, and they’re qualifying in six different disciplines. These guys are national champions.

Some guys here are world champions, and some have gone on to compete at the world championships and have won in different disciplines.”

A native of West Hamlin, Cogar is one of eight athletes from West Virginia who particpated in the qualifying competition Saturday.

“West Virginia has a great heritage of lumberjacks,” Hall said.

The defending five-time national champion, Matt Cogar (Arden’s first cousin twice removed), is also from West Virginia.

“There are a lot of athletes here that are from the state and compete, but then we also have athletes here from Florida, New York, Connecticut and all over the country,” Hall said.

Arden Cogar received his bachelor’s, master’s and J.D. degrees from WVU, and practices as a civil defense trial attorney for MacCorkle, Lavender & Sweeney in Charleston.

He’s especially prideful to represent his state in lumberjack events.

“The people that I know are from here, and they want to see me do what drives me,” Cogar said. “I practice law for a job, but lumberjack sports are my passion.

“I love practicing law, but this is a great break from the arguing, the writing, the reading and all the mundane things that we do with the practice of law because I get to hit something that doesn’t hit me back.”

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