Four fraternities faced off as they slid through the slick and wet grass Monday afternoon during this year’s Tugs Competition kick off.
However, confusion flooded the area by Campus Pond due to a technical call that left the winners of the first round uncertain.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Phi Kappa Theta were the first contenders to see who would tug again on Friday for a chance at first place.
When Scott Sheahan, the “front man” at the head of the rope line for Phi Kappa Theta, was waist deep in water, it looked like it was over.
“Just try to fight back through it,” Sheahan said when he recalled the moment he walked into the pond. “Like even if you’re down, you have to have the will to win. Like that’s just been a mindset for me for a lot of things.”
He said at that moment he knew what he had to do to get out of the slippery situation by twisting his body and digging his feet into the murky surface to regain his footing.
As Sheahan marched his way out of the water, the team’s moral was “felt throughout the rope,” and the team tugged further back until the victory horn was blown in favor of Phi Kappa Theta.
“In a sad sort of way it felt natural to turn around and say, ‘no I’m not going to be in here any longer,’” Sheahan said.
The call to end the tug was made by Ceci Brinker, director of the office of student life, who said she called it because of an apparent safety issue on behalf of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Brinker said once the anchor or the person at the end of the rope comes off the rope, then the tug is over.
“I’m not willing to let people get hurt over a win,” Brinker said.
Yet despite the call, there was some debate from members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and their supporters.
“I would like to know who has the authority to call that tug,” Colton Woolsey, one of the members and a tugger, said.
Woolsey and others argued that though it looked like they were going to lose at a certain point, just 46 seconds earlier it looked like Phi Kappa Theta was losing, since Sheahan was already struggling to get out of the water.
“So that’s why we’re curious,” Woolsey said. “We’re fine with losing, but we want to lose the right way.”
Megan Cress, member of the rules committee, said they were just making it fair for each team.
She said the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon felt that the call was not in the rules and it was made too early, so therefore it was not fair.
Despite the confusion, Phi Kappa Theta still celebrated a win, but other members of the rules committee declined to offer further comments regarding the incident after the event.
But in a tweet posted by EIU Greek Week 2017, it stated that the teams will tug again after all the sororities compete on Wednesday.
Though the tweet has since been removed, the committee did, however, say that the teams would be notified on whether or not they will compete again on Wednesday.
Whether it was a win or not, Ian Stanley, the captain for Phi Kappa Theta, said his team has practiced since February, and he was confident his team would win.
Stanley said he wants to encourage his team to keep the energy going, but he said that does not mean it is time to relax just yet.
Sheahan said he and his older brother have been attending Eastern a combined total of ten years and neither of them has won Tugs before.
“So for me honestly, I get to have a one up on my older brother now,” Sheahan said.
The second round of Monday’s Tug competition ended with a first win for Delta Chi since they re-charted two years ago.
Delta Chi defeated Sigma Chi in 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
Cameron Kay, the vice president for Delta Chi, said he and the other members and coaches knew that they were coming in as the underdogs, but that did not stop them from trying their best.
“I’m just proud of my brothers, they were there just busting their butts every day,” Kay said. “We just wanted to try our best, really, and it turned out well for us.”
Coach Robert Lever said they have been practicing at least five days a week and at least an hour each practice because they just wanted to improve from last year.
“I think we’ve done that,” Lever said.
Kay said as of right now the team is just going to keep practicing and will see where they can go from here all the while having fun along the way.
“That’s the most important part,” Kay said.
Coach Imani McDaniel said this year was amazing to finally see the team accomplish all that they worked for, because she said she knew just how hard they worked for it.
“They definitely deserved it,” McDaniel said. “I love these guys and obviously I’m not in their fraternity, but they’re some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life. And I wouldn’t have given up any time I spent practicing with them because they’re great.”
Kalyn Hayslett contributed to this story.
Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]