Ben Kniceley, Haywood Community College 2014 Fish and Wildlife Management Technology and 2015 Forest Management Technology graduate, is the STIHL USA Collegiate Champion in Timbersports. He won the title this past weekend competing in Central Park in New York against five other national qualifiers. This is the fourth HCC student to go to the nationals.

To win the title, competitors must compete and outplace the competitors in four events:  underhand chop, stock saw, standing block chop, and single buck. The next stop for Kniceley will be in Austria in November for the world championships. He will spend 2016 competing in the professional series.

According to Kniceley, three of the six competitors this past weekend had been to the championships before. And he was still in therapy from surgery to a torn ACL which forced him to miss out on two months training. “Winning was pretty awesome,” he says. “I went in wanting to win. I do this every day.”

Kniceley works at the Lumberjack Feud in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “It never seems like a job. I am practicing but getting paid for it.”

Two other HCC Natural resources graduates work with Kniceley.

Before coming to HCC, the Shelby native had never heard of Timbersports. Growing up playing baseball, he knew he had to do some sport to keep him busy. He has worked for the Lumberjack Feud for three years. He also spent a summer working in Alaska for the company’s sister attraction, The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.

Kniceley finished high school two years early through home school. He knew he wanted to work in natural resources and came across HCC through an internet search for four-year schools. “I had not thought about going to a two-year school,” he explains. “But everything I heard about the programs at HCC was great.”

Kniceley says he enjoyed the smaller college, getting to know everyone in his class, the relationships formed between students and teachers, and the hands-on nature of the program.

“Being a community college, no one thinks any good can come out of it,” Kniceley says. “But travelling with the school’s timbersports team, Haywood is the team everyone wants to beat.”