STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® U.S. Championship features top up-and-coming athletes

When we look back at the 2014 STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® U.S. Championship, will it be remembered as a changing of the guard?

If yesterday's qualifying round is any indication, this may be the year when the young up-and-comers finally grapple the Series away from the veterans. Of the eight competitors competing in the U.S. Pro Championship tonight at 5 p.m. EST, only three are long-tenured veterans of the Series, while five are young athletes on the rise. 

The most heralded is 27-year-old Matt Cogar. The reigning U.S. champion dominated pool play and has to be considered one of the favorites tonight. Of the four athletes in his pool that advanced, three are 30-years-old or under. Nathan "Bucket" Waterfield wasn't even expected to be here, but a late scratch allowed him to participate, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Walt Page - who dominated in the 2014 qualifiers - is considered the next great STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® athlete.

Branden Sirguy advances to the Championship round for the second time. He's been competing since 2009 and has quickly become one of the most talented athletes on the Series. Calvin Willard rounds out the five and is one of the bigger surprises from yesterday's qualifying round, scoring two more points than Series-stalwart David Moses to advance. He's only been on the Series since 2012.

If this year's going to be the year of the new blood, they'll have to go through three of the best, and most established, veterans on the Series. Arden Cogar, Jr., won the Championship in 2012, was runner-up last year, and is largely regarded as one of the top STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® athletes competing today. Mel Lentz is a six-time champion, who earned the nickname "King of the Lumberjacks" for a reason. Dave Jewett has been competing on the Series for several years and has finished in the top seven the past two years.

Come see the next great STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Champion. Tickets for tonight's Championship are still available at and at the box office. Fans can also watch the action via live stream.