XENIA — The engines might have been raging, but the competition was all friendly.
The 2014 Tug-A-Truck competition Monday night at the Greene County Fair brought together Tuggers from near and far to test their modified trucks against each other.
In a sport where the goal is to drag the opponent’s hard work backwards, it would be understandable if things got heated. But all of the drivers were ready to have a good time. That’s what it’s all about, according to Spring Valley driver Caleb Fricke.
“It’s just a bunch of good friends, everybody gets along, and it’s kind of a cool sport. The same guy doesn’t win every time, every track is different and every day is different. It’s more of a low budget situation than sled pulling,” he said. “This is kind of what we do. We’re mostly all farmers or mechanics and we get together and drink a little beer and we pull trucks.”
Fricke and his white Nationwide Insurance-branded pickup competed in the 5,500 and 6,500-pound competitions, both of which he won last year. The 5,500 was the first competition of the day and he easily tugged through the competition all the way to the finals. After a 2-pull win in his first matchup and a win by default, he cleared Tom Reed 2-0. But he met his match in the finals, falling 2-0 against Xenia native Dustin Adams.
“I’ve been to seven pulls this year. I usually would have been to 20 by now, but it’s been a rough year - I’ve been through six transmissions. It’s been a hard year, so I needed tonight,” said Fricke. “We’re just out here having fun.”
Adams and Fricke took first and second respectively, with Robert Glass taking third and Reed placing fourth. Adams was glad his baby blue truck performed well.
“What can I say? I’m having a good time. It’s a fun sport,” he said.
The big trucks at 8,500 lbs. were next and had some close matches, despite the two finalists being the clear-cut winners. Dylan Stormont and his gray Dodge were close to losing his first tug in his first matchup, but he came back to take the tug and the 2-to-0 win. Unfortunately he was matched up against Sherry and her pink Dodge, who easily made her way past the competitors to the finals. There she met Doug Newman and his 1979 Chevy. The tugs were close, but Newman pulled out the win. Curtis Freeze and Stormont took third and fourth respectively.
The main event of the night was the 6,500 class, which boasted the largest participant pool. Both winners from the previous divisions, as well as some other favorites came together to tug. Some of the drivers entering newer trucks weren’t sure how their new rides would perform.
“I just got the truck together. This is actually its third pull, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jamestown native Jake Robinson. “I actually haven’t won one yet. It’s just fun to compete.”
“You’ve got about 2-to-1 time to money in these trucks. A lot of time in them. You’ll get some junkyard trucks or you’ll get some fiberglass bodies. It just depends, but it’s always fun to watch an old farm truck beat a high-dollar one.”
Robinson and his Gold Chevy Tahoe lost to a 1991 Ford in his first match.
Fricke won his first two matches, but lost to the eventual fourth-place finisher Josh Brittingham. The 5,500 winner Adams looked solid throughout his matchups, making it all the way to the finals, but he met the same fate in his final matchup as many others did - he lost 2-0 to “Mater.”
Chris “Mater” Saylor steamrolled the competition all the way through the 6,500 division. He made it look easy, not losing a single tug throughout the competition. Adams gave him the best fight, but couldn’t get a win.
Saylor would have competed in the 5,500 too, but he lost by default when he couldn’t make it to the gate on time. Saylor, Adams, Freeze and Brittingham were the top four finishers in the 6,500.