Pedaling, pulling her way to international title
There's a national champion living in the Osakis community. Averie Mounsdon, 9, is the top puller in the National Pedal Pull competition.
In September, the Osakis third grader pulled 190 pounds of weight 29-feet, 9-inches to earn the national championship.
Averie said, "It was kind of weird at first and then I got really excited and stuff. Then Mom called lots of people to tell them I won and I was really nervous. I got a big trophy. We couldn't fit it in the car almost."
The tractor pedal pull competitions are common events on local festival schedules in the summer. Competitors qualify at the local level to move on to state and from there, it's on to nationals.
The tractor pedal pull is a mini version of the regular truck and tractor pulls.
When asked how she would describe it, Averie said, "I would say it's a tractor that's kind of like a bike and there's a sled on the back and when you pedal there's a chain with the weight that moves it up and it gets harder and harder [to pedal]."
The tractors for each age group are geared differently so it's a little bit tougher pedaling the older the kids get.
The national contest is held at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, and after four trips to nationals, Averie finally earned her turn to proudly haul home a trophy.
Here's how she described what it felt like to stand up on the stage to receive her first place trophy: "It's really fun. I'm really nervous and I'm like, 'Really? Did I really seriously do this?' I think I'm still in a dream. I like going up there and taking pictures and getting to take [trophies] home and getting my mom to fit them in the car - that's the funniest part.
"Now I get to go to Iowa for the international competition in August," she said.
IT ALL STARTED AT AGE 4
Averie started pedal pull contests when she was 4 years old. Grandparents Keith and Gaye Mounsdon urged Averie and her brother, Riley, to give it a try. Averie gave it a go and she took first place.
"Then, we took a long car ride and we went to state and we got qualified and Mom told me, 'Pull with all your heart,' so I went up there, pulled my heart out and I got first place at state."
Since then, Averie has not only had big wins at the state level, but she also moves up an age bracket when she competes at nationals. Her birthday falls between the state contest in mid-September and the national contest in late-September.
This year, she qualified at state as an 8-year-old and moved on to compete at nationals in the 9-year-old bracket.
Averie's dad, Jason, said, "We're very proud because she pulled as a 9-year-old three days after her birthday. It's very, very competitive. In past years, her best at nationals was sixth place, so it was a huge improvement in just two years."
But, according to Averie, getting there was tough. "This past season, I went to the Douglas County Fair and I had to pull against a boy and I got second place. But then, I went to state and I got first," Averie said.
Her mom, Carrie, added, "It was a tough pull this year."
"Yeah, there were a lot of girls that were pretty good at state," Averie said.
During the pulls, one person is allowed to stand at the end of the pull path to cheer on the competitor. Averie said she loves it when her aunt, Jennie Mounsdon, cheers her on.
"Normally my aunt screams like, 'Go, Averie, go!' Or I just think of a puppy down there. I think they're cute so you want to get down there and get them."
TRAINING IS KEY
Averie said sometimes when she gets on the tractor and starts pedaling, she thinks, "Whoa, that's a lot of weight!"
Two years ago, in Sauk Centre, Averie pulled a whopping 320 pounds.
Averie said, "My mom said I'm like my grandma."
"Yes, your little short legs come in handy for tractor pulling," Carrie said.
With her sights set on the international contest, Averie said, "Now I'll have to do a lot of training.
"Mom bought me a bike with speeds so I can bump it up and stuff. And pulling my brother - that was hard. He sits on one of Dad's creepers for under the car and I pull it," she said.
Averie and her brother, Riley, have also helped out during local pedal pull events.
Averie said, "It's fun to see the other kids win, too, especially the littler kids. I like going up and giving the little kids the trophy because they're so cute. It's so fun."
"This is something she loves. It's fun and she gets a big kick out of it," Carrie said. "She's learned it's not all about her. She was heartbroken and there were tears because there were times she didn't make it. She's learned to be humble."
Jason added, "It's a sport that anybody can compete in and she's been lucky enough to succeed at it. She's got a lot of determination."