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The Pull at a Glance

See Photos of The Pull


  • It is generally believed that the Pull tug-of-war was first held in 1898. The event is mentioned in the November, 1898, issue of the college's student newspaper, The Anchor, although no record of the outcome appears. That makes the 2013 Pull the 116th in history.
  • The informal nature of the event in its early years means that details from the Pull's early history (pre-1909) are sketchy. It is known that there were at least four years that the Pull was not held: 1918, 1943 and 1944 (war years), and 1957 (when, according to the student paper at the time, a flu epidemic on campus prompted its cancellation).
  • Only three buildings on campus are older than the Pull:
    Van Vleck Hall (1857)
    Graves Hall (dedicated 1894)
    President's Home (completed 1896)
  • During the Pull, each team has 18 students on the rope as "pullers," and another 18 acting as guides and morale boosters, or "moralers." The freshmen are coached by the junior class, while the sophomores are instructed by the seniors. The coaching arrangement also leads to a rivalry between the even-year and odd-year classes.
  • Long held on a Friday afternoon, the event was moved to Saturday in 1993 (Sept. 25) to allow more to attend and to avoid conflicts with the college's academic schedule.
  • The longest Pull, held in 1977, was 3 hours and 51 minutes in duration, and was called a draw. (The event is now limited to three hours maximum--a change implemented in 1978; at the end of the three hours, the judges may declare a winner by measuring gain.)
  • The shortest Pull, held in 1956, was 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The shortest Pull under the rules implemented in 1978 occurred in 2008 when the Class of 2011 defeated the Class of 2012 in 67 minutes after gaining 71 feet of rope.
  • 1995 was the first year that a woman was chosen to be a puller (Keri Law '99 of Niles, Mich., who was also a puller during the 1996 contest as a sophomore). It is believed that 1994 was the first year that a woman tried out as a puller (Nina Bieliauskas '97 of Ann Arbor, Mich., who in the end was a moraler).
  • There have been four draws since 1909: 1916, 1926, 1952 and 1977. The 1926 competitors later held a basketball game as a tie-breaker (which the sophomores won). The 1977 event was called a tie after running 3 hours and 51 minutes.
  • It's possible for the rope to break, such as happened in 1974. In that year, a new one was obtained and the match was held on the following Monday.
  • The rope stretches, and thus both sides can finish the Pull having gained rope. That happened as recently as 1999 (the sophomore Class of '02 won having gained 6 feet, 1 inch more than the freshman Class of '03).
  • The margin of victory is sometimes slim. In 1995, for example, the sophomore Class of '98 won by only 2 feet, 10 inches.
  • Since 1909, the sophomores have won 68 times to the freshman class's 31. The last sophomore win was in 2015. The last freshman victory was in 2011.
  • Since 1909, the even-year class has won 56 times to the odd-year classes' 43. The last even-year victory was in 2015. The last odd-year victory was in 2014.
  • A new rope was used for the 2013 pull. It is 600 feet long, is 2.5 inches in diameter and weighs apoproximately 1,000 pounds. The tenure of the four previous ropes was 2006 through 2012, 2000 through 2005, 1997 through 1999 , and 1990 through 1996.
  • The term "moralers," as opposed to "morale girls," was adopted in 1992.
  • The Class of 2015 was the last class to win in both its freshman and sophomore years (in 2011 and 2012). A total of 21 classes have won as both freshmen and sophomores (the Classes of 1914, 1924, 1927, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1943, 1949, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1989, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2011 and 2015).
  • Only two classes have won all four Pulls (two as participants and two as coaches): 1934 and 1936.
  • In 2014, the sophomore Class of 2018 defeated the freshman Class of 2019 on Saturday, Sept. 26, by 55 feet, 4 inches in a contest that ran the full three hours.

Pull Facts (including 2014)

First held: 1898
First reported outcome: 1909 (the frosh Class of '13 won)
Number of frosh wins since 1909: 31
Number of soph wins since 1909: 68
Number of odd-year wins since 1909: 43
Number of even-year wins since 1909: 56
Number of cancellations: 4
Number of draws: 4
Longest Pull: 3 hours, 51 minutes (1977)
Shortest Pull: 2 minutes, 40 seconds (1956)
Team size: 18 pullers, 18 moralers