Almost every elite pro athlete tries to do it. Some are more believable than others. The attempt to sound humble and casual about success is a time honored tradition that normally results in worn out cliché’s about how good their opponent is. But For 19-year old Professional Log Roller Gretchen Greene the tone is very different. Greene, who’s preparing this week for the start of her fourth year as a pro, is one of the more respected and well liked women on the pro circuit. And when she pours out positive accolades aimed at her fellow competitors, there’s a realness to it. It’s genuine and egoless. And there’s no doubting that despite her number two world ranking, Greene is convinced she’s got more work to do entering the 2015 season.
“It’s definitely exiting to get out there and compete,” says Greene. “Everybody’s been training really hard. There are so many good competitors this year. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen because there are so many good rollers. I really want to make sure I’m always staying positive and really enjoy log rolling when I’m competing because sometimes (we all) get caught up the competition and I just want to remember to have fun and always do my best.”
Since turning pro at the age of 16, Greene has quickly become one of the best young rollers on the pro circuit. As a 17 year old rookie at World Championships, she won her play in match before losing to Emily Christopherson, and eventually finishing 6th. At the age of 18, Greene shocked much of the log rolling world, advancing to the finals at the 2013 World Championships, where she faced her mentor, four time World Champion Shana Verstegen.
“I was really excited that I made it to the finals,” said Greene. “Knowing I made it that far was pretty cool. I was nervous but it was really exiting to roll someone who I’ve rolled so many times. I knew she was a tough competitor and I knew it would be a tough back and forth match. It was pretty emotional to think about all those times I watched Shana roll in the finals and now I was all of sudden competing against her in the finals. It was pretty hard to believe. I remember being in disbelief.”
The 2013 finals produced great theatre and turned out to be one of the best Women’s finals ever. Both Verstegen and Greene reached the four log with neither recording a fall over the other. After Greene won two straight falls over her mentor, the four time champion Verstegen came back, winning the next two. Greene then won the 5th and final fall to become one of the youngest World Champions ever.
Greene continued her success last year, winning tournaments at the La Crosse Open and Three Rivers Roleo and was the only woman to win multiple titles in 2014. She also finished 4th at World Championships in Hayward.
This week Greene will join a strong field at the 2015 season opener at the La Crosse Open, scheduled for June 20. The 19-year old has been working out this past spring on both the log and on the track. Greene, who competes for Macalester College as a Track and Field and Cross Country runner, has been focusing strongly on her conditioning.
“I have a running plan for cross country that I start now and I have a modified running plan because I have log rolling too,” says Greene. “I have to kind of find a balance between running and log rolling and I also do some strength training. So I try and practice log rolling (while) maintaining running but I think they also go hand in hand.”
Greene, who runs the 1500 meter and 800 meter events for Macalester in the spring, and Cross Country in the fall, believes she has improved her strength and stamina for log rolling as a result of being in a college Track and Field/Cross Country program.
“I think it’s helped me get in shape and we spend a lot of time in strength training,” says Greene. “So I think it’s helped me get stronger. It’s definitely helped me with my fitness for log rolling. We spend more time working on upper and lower body strength and lift twice a week. It’s also good for injury prevention as well.”
As for her future and what’s next for log rolling, Greene is confident things are going in the right direction. “Clearly the past few years the sport of log rolling has been growing a lot which is great,” says Greene. “Programs are expanding throughout the Midwest and throughout the country, and even with Key Log Rolling, they’ve brought log rolling to Europe. So I hope the sport of log rolling continues to grow and I hope to be rolling for a long time.”
MENS TOP 5
1. J.R Salzman – Salzman enters 2015 with Nine World championships, one short of all-time leader Jubiel Wickheim, who won his last title in 1969. Salzman once again dominated the men’s circuit last year, winning four of the five tournaments he entered. Salzman’s only loss in 2014 was to Darren Hudson in the finals at the 2014 World Championships.
2. Darren Hudson – The Barrington, Nova Scotia native remains one of the best conditioned athletes in the sport of Log rolling as he approaches the age of 40. Hudson peaked at the right time last year, beating longtime rival Salzman at the 2014 World championships. Hudson has won five World titles and could make it six in 2015.
3. Carl Rick – Rick had two top 5 finishes in 2015, including a first place finish at the La Crosse Open. Rick is also one of the top boom runners on the pro circuit, finishing 5th in the boom at World Championships in 2014.
4. Brian Duffy – The Hayward, WI native dominated the sport of Log Rolling in the mid 1990’s with five World Titles, and continued to compete at a high level in 2014. Duffy had two top 5 finishes last year, including a 3rd place finish at World Championships.
5. Spencer Wilkinson – The Madison native made a major splash as a rookie in 2014 with three top 5 finishes including a runner up at the La Crosse Open and a 3rd place finish at the Three Rivers Roleo. Wilkinson is also the world’s top ranked boom runner after strong finishes in both Madison and Hayward in 2014.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Marcel Scott – Finished 5th at World Championships. Also won the 2014 boom run World Title.
Garrick Birdsong – Strong finish to rookie year with a runner up at the Three Rivers Roleo.
Dominick Serpico – Could be among the men’s top rollers in 2015. Four top 7 finishes in 2014.
Derek Knutson – Strong 4th place finish at World Championships in 2014.
Garrick Olson – Two top 5 finishes in 2014 including a runner up in Madison.
WOMENS TOP 5
1. Shana Verstegen – The 35-year old Verstegen is unlikely to compete a full schedule in 2015 after giving birth to her first child, Greyson, last month. Verstegen, who won the Midwest Championship in Madison last year and had three runner ups, is still highly viable, and could be a force if she decides to compete. The four time World Champion and two time boom running champ will likely miss some early tournaments but is not ruling out competing at The Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward in late July.
2. Gretchen Greene – Greene, who turns 20 next month, leads a deep field of young rollers on this year’s women’s circuit. The Madison, WI native already has one World Title on her resume and could be in for a big year. Greene, the number 2 ranked roller in the world, had two victories last year and five top 5 finishes.
3. Lizzie Horvitz – The Minneapolis resident is the defending women’s World Champion, and could make a serious run at a number one ranking in 2015. With Verstegen likely to miss considerable time, Horvitz and Greene could be the favorites to take over the women’s number one ranking. Horvitz, currently ranked 3rd, could be in store for a very successful season. The 31-year old has already won three World Titles in her career and winning a fourth championship in 2015 is a strong possibility.
4. Emily Christopherson – The Bangor, WI native had four top 3 finishes in 2014, including a runner up at the Three Rivers Roleo and a 3rd place finish at World Championships. Christopherson has been knocking on the door for the past couple of years and 2015 could be her breakout season.
5. Katie Rick – Rick kicked off 2014 with a bang by making it to the finals at the Midwestern championships in Madison before losing to Verstegen. The 28-year old Onalaska, WI native had three top 5 finishes in 2014, including a 5th place finish at World Championships. Rick could be a sleeper pick to win her first World Title in 2015.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Abby Hoeschler – Won the 2014 Namekagon event and had three top 5 finishes.
Jenny Atkinson – Three time World Champion had two top 5’s in 2014.
Sam Hadley – Had three top 10 finishes in 2014 and could be among the toughest matchups in 2015.
Meredith Ingbretson – Top 5’s at Namekagon & Three Rivers Roleo. Won 2014 boom run title.
Leah Stanton – Three top 5’s in 2014 including a 4th place finish at the Three Rivers Roleo.
Taylor Duffy-Biser – Former World Champion had two top 10 finishes in 2014.
ROOKIE TO WATCH
Maggie Penning – The Hayward, WI native was dominant as an amateur in 2014 and could immediately make an impact on the women’s pro circuit in 2015. Penning won all five tournaments she entered as an amateur last summer.
June 20, 2015 - La Crosse Open (La Crosse, WI)
June 27, 2015 - Midwest Log Rolling and Boom Running Championships (Madison, WI)
July 4, 2015 - Go Fourth Festival (Longview, Washington)
July 11, 2015 - Three Rivers Roleo (Onalaska, WI)
July 19, 2015 - Namekagon River Roll Off – Log Rolling and Boom Running (Hayward, WI)
July 23-25, 2015 - Log Rolling and Boom Running World Championships (Hayward, WI)
August 1, 2015 - Minnesota State Championships (Grand Marais, MN)
August 1-2, 2015 - Squamish Loggers Sports (Squamish, B.C.)
August 8, 2015 - Morton Jubilee (Morton, WA)