The screaming babes of Balyo and Davidson strained against the orange plastic fencing, waving hand-drawn signs in his face.  But Sam “One Man Arney” planted his feet in the rocky clearing, his plaid vest buttoned down his chest.  A small table stood in front of him, loaded with pancakes, root beer, and a bottle of Butterworth syrup.  Forcing a large piece of pancake down his throat, he paused for a second to smile manically at the throng around him.  Then he grabbed the bottle of syrup.

Up he lifted it.  Down he chugged it.  And the crowd erupted.

A couple of days later, sophomore Ray Rodriquez recalls that moment.

Ray Rodriquez prepares to eat some pancakes.

Ray Rodriquez prepares to eat some pancakes.

“I saw Sam Arney drink the bottle of syrup, and I thought, ‘I need to do that too.’”  He didn’t stop drinking until the bottle was empty.

“I had more heart this year than last time,” Rodriguez says. “I was happy to help the team.”

For Ray that meant putting his stomach—and the syrupy, doughy mess it contained—on the line.  The pancake gods were well-pleased as he returned to them a free will offering.  Many actually.

“I paid the ultimate sacrifice twice on the field.  Then twice in the shower.  And afterwards while waiting to go celebrate with my sister hall, twice again.  At Denny’s I lost count.”

Jonathan Kuzichev prepares to throw an ax.

Jonathan Kuzichev prepares to throw an ax.

But why?  What is it about the Lumberjack Games that makes it worth all the pressure and puking?

“It’s about having pride in our dorm,” Micah Demmer says.  “It puts everyone on the same level.”

It sure didn’t seem that way.  Blake Purnell and his motley crew were in full control of the evening, winning almost every event.  So how are lumberjacks united when the last man falls off the log?

Sam Arney explains, “Instead of being cross dressers or [being] covered in pumpkin guts, we’re rustic hipsters.  We like our clothes, and we like being men.”

The 2014 Lumberjack Games occurred Friday evening in the Lumberjack field. First place went to Blake Purnell’s hall. The games included the “Bear Claw,” the “Log Roll,” and the ax-throwing contest, among others.