Lucas Drews

Tree climbing has its ups and downs

March 31, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Tree climbing has its ups and downs, but for Lucas Drews, 29, of Rockford’s Woodland Tree Services it seems the sky’s the limit! Representing the Arboriculture Society of Michigan (ASM) in the recently held North American Tree Climbing Competition (NATCC) in Savannah, Ga., Lucas placed first in a field of 70 entrants (63 male and, yes, seven female) during the preliminary round. Lucas’ elite competition, this day, was composed of top climbers from all over North America. The following day, competing in the Masters Challenge championship round against the top five qualifiers, Lucas finished in second place by a scant three points. First, a little background on how Lucas arrived at these lofty heights. Mom and dad, Julie and Bill Drews, have owned and operated Woodland Tree Services, serving all of West Michigan, since 1982. Mom Julie, also the company’s office manager, said, “Lucas was climbing things [including trees] even before he could walk. It’s in his genes!” Today, one of the top climbers for Woodland, Lucas is a certified arborist/climber with a degree in ornamental horticulture from Ferris State University, and is also certified in electrical hazards awareness, along with being a Michigan Department of Agriculture certified pesticide applicator. “I feel blessed to work in an industry where I really enjoy what I do. I get to work in the out-of-doors with living organisms. There are new and exciting challenges each and every day,” said Lucas. “There’s a real dynamic in the relationships between tree climbers. We’re like a band of brothers, or family, if you will.” Different species of trees present different challenges to climbers. At the recently completed NATCC championships, Lucas found himself scaling one of the iconic and indigenous trees of the south, the live oak. “One of the things I enjoy about these competitions is that we get to compete in trees that we do not work with in our home environments,” said Lucas. “Many of these live oaks are over 100 years old and attain heights exceeding 100 feet with the diameter of the canopy exceeding 200 feet. It’s exciting but ever so challenging to deal with the dynamics of such a magnificent tree.” The preliminary round on day one consists of competing in […]

Rockford arborist an international champion

October 15, 2009 // 0 Comments

by M. SOLLE Rockford has turned out its fair share of elite athletes over the years, and now we have one more to add to the list. He may have even been at your home before, but you didn’t even know it. Lucas Drews is an elite, internationally ranked professional tree climber. Not a sport, you say? It’s definitely not a “traditional” sport like football, track or baseball, but if you’ve ever seen a professional tree climber in their daily work, you would be convinced that not many could do an activity like that. It’s rough, it’s physical, it’s technically challenging, and it’s demanding. Being a tree climber takes precision and skill and is definitely not for the faint of heart. As a certified arborist for over 10 years and a competitive tree climber for over six years, Drews knows trees. He knows how to quickly get up one and quickly get down. In any given tree-climbing competition there are five different events: the throw-line, the secured foot lock, the work climb, the belayed speed climb, and the aerial rescue. Competitors are scored based on speed, accuracy, and safety/awareness. Judges are placed around the tree and up in the tree being used. At the end of all five stations, points are tallied and a winner is determined. In 2008, Drews competed in the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Southern Regional Tree Climbing Championship in Knoxville, Tenn. He completed the belayed speed climb (60 feet) in 28.877 seconds. He also finished the secured foot lock (49 feet 2.5 inches) in 19.657 seconds. Overall, he finished first and was ranked 12th in the world. What sets this sport apart from so many others is the way it integrates into a competition what tree climbers do on a daily basis. The events are actual methods and processes the participants use in their daily work, only done much more quickly and for bragging rights. There is rarely trash-talking or bad-mouthing, and more often than not there is a spirit of camaraderie, where fellow tree climbers root each other on and give advice. Bill Drews, Lucas Drews’ father, said it best, “These men are a brotherhood of elite athletes. They are all athletes in their own right. What we do […]