WATERVILLE — Bob Euiler was shaking in his boots and his arms were trembling under his flannel shirtsleeves as he struggled to push a roughly 8-foot-long log up a wooden deck Saturday morning in the woods outside Colby College.

“Bob, this is better than the gym!” yelled one of his teammates from the Maine Maritime Academy woodsmen club.

“Keep pushing, Bob!” said another.

After nearly eight minutes of struggling, pushing and hacking away at the log using a forestry tool called a peavey, the log came to rest atop the wooden deck and Euiler stumbled away, victorious.

“It was hard,” he said, trying to catch his breath.

The singles log deck competition, in which Euiler was one of several participants, was one of 15 events at Saturday’s annual Mud Meet at Colby College. The meet is a “Jack and Jill” style lumberjack competition that this year drew 20 coed teams of ax-wielding and flannel-wearing timber sports enthusiasts from nine colleges around New England and Canada.

In the log deck competition, participants must move a log from atop a wooden frame down a long ramp and then push it back up using the peavey. Like the other events at the meet, it replicates forestry practices from “back in the day,” according to Colby College freshman Duncan Coles, a member of Colby’s woodsmen team who finished the event in an impressive 40 seconds.

“It’s a learning experience,” said Coles, 19. “There are some very competitive people, but a lot of us are here just to have fun and see what we can do. It’s as serious as you want it to be.”

Lumberjack competitions in Maine date to the 1800s, and Colby College has been hosting its annual event since around 1950, according to woodsmen club coach David Smith. The team meets in the woods on the edge of the school’s campus every day during the week, and for many students it provides an alternative to participating in more traditional sports.

Drew Martzolf, a junior at Colby, said he got involved in the club after playing lacrosse and rugby and “getting too many concussions.”

“It was something I always wanted to try out, and I found a new way to focus my competitive spirit,” said Martzolf, 21.

Teammate Julia Rogers, 22, said she also was attracted to the woodsmen club after having played high school sports and wanting to try something else.

“It sounded cool and I thought, ‘Swinging an ax — that sounds like fun,” she said.

The team had a schedule of eight meets this year, including their own Mud Meet, which included events for singles, doubles and teams. Unlike most lumberjack competitions on the collegiate circuit, the

Colby competition is “Jack and Jill” style, meaning that the participating teams are coed and each must include three men and three women.

“It’s a pretty unique meet and provides an opportunity to work with team members that we might not otherwise,” Martzolf said.

Competitiveness of the events varies, and for many it is an opportunity to try events they might have never done before, Smith said.

“Fewer and fewer people grow up on farms and using hand tools, so it’s an opportunity to use tools they might not otherwise be exposed to,” he said. “That’s the biggest feedback I hear, is from people who are able to pick up useful skills that they otherwise might not.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368
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Twitter: @rachel_ohm