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September 29, 2001

Tractor Team Pulls Its Weight

With drivers "Combine Kate" and Brian Peterson at the wheel, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Falcon Pullers quarter-scale tractor team reached 18th place in an international pull held in East Moline, Ill., this summer.

The rookie team competed in the fourth annual pull sponsored by the American Society of Agriculture Engineers. Teams from Malaysia, Canada and France were among the 26 colleges participating in the three-day event.

Each team drove the tractors they had designed and built over a semester. Teams are judged on the design of the tractor, competition performance, a written presentation and the team presentation for ASAE judges.

The Falcon Pullers driver in the 800-pound class, Katherine Bakke, was a last-minute addition to the team. She was the only person who could drive the tractor and still make the designated weight requirement. The driver in the 1,050 pound class was Brian Peterson.

"The team learned a lot about design and presentations. They worked with sponsors, learned fundraising techniques, and learned how to work together at the last minute to make adjustments," said Assistant Professor Derek Whitelock from the agriculture engineering department who is the team advisor.

The team encountered problems with the brakes after arriving at the competition. Although it was difficult for them, the team felt that overcoming the brake problem was a defining moment. That was when they really came together.

"I grew up on a family farm. The whole idea of being able to create and build a tractor was great. I like to work with my hands and I wanted to build something that will work," said Eric Wehling.

The team also agreed that this project would not have been possible without the sponsors and donors who contributed over $4,000 last year to make it happen. "We couldnąt have accomplished it without their help," said Jesse.

This year, the Falcon Pullers received an award from the UW-RF Leadership Center in the amount of $5,000. Leadership Training Coordinator Emily Ronning assisted the newly-formed student organization in fulfilling the requirements for an award.

"This is a new student organization on campus. The funds not only benefit the studentsą personal growth, but the University as well. The team created and built a lasting symbol of the university in the tractor," said Ronning.

The team will design and build a new tractor this year. The rules for the 2002 competition and results from previous years are posted on the ASAE website As a student organization, the Falcon Pullers team is open to any student who would like to participate. The Falcon Puller has its own website at

Team members are (all are agricultural engineering majors unless otherwise noted): Chad Anacker, junior, Cottage Grove, Minn.; Spencer Beaulieu, senior, Maple Grove, Minn.; K. C. Betzold, senior, Farmington, Minn.; Nick Jefferies, sophomore, Hillsboro, Wis.; Jared Matzek, senior, Hager City, Wis.; Brian Peterson, senior, Barron, Wis.; Kris Schank, senior, Independence, Wis.; Lee Schomberg, sophomore, Bangor, Wis.; Justin Storlie, freshman, Farmington, Minn.; Eric Wehling, freshman, Chippewa Falls, Wis.; Ted Weinzirl, senior, Elmwood, Wis.; Luke Young, sophomore, Plainview, Minn. "Combine Kate"Bakke, sophomore, geography, Hastings, Minn. and Jesse Keene, junior, Hastings, Minn.

For more information on joining the Falcon Pullers tractor team, contact Derek Whitelock at 425-3985. The team meets on Mondays at 5 p.m. in the Ag Science Building, Room 160. For more information on receiving funds for a student organization, contact the Student Leadership Center at 715/425- 4911.

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