Stew McGillivray breathed a huge sigh of relief after he took down the Sunday greasy pole flag last year.
"I didn't think I was going to get a chance," McGillivray said. "I was walking seventh, and with the talent of the walkers in front of me, I figured somebody would take it down before me."
The 2008 Sunday champion, who also won the Friday and Saturday flags in 2004 and made it to the end of the pole in the courtesy round last year, was almost sure that one of the six walkers ahead of him would take down the flag before he even got the opportunity to walk in the second round.
"It's pretty stacked at the top on Sunday," McGillivray said. "I think I have a good shot, but it's not getting past 10 walkers in the second round. It's great for the sport having so many good walkers up there on Sunday, but it makes it that much tougher to win."
The field will once again be stacked on Sunday for the final greasy pole of Fiesta, but the event kicks off tonight with the Friday Pole at 4:45 p.m.
The 2005 Friday and 2006 Saturday champion Vinny Parisi echoed that sentiment. Parisi, who is walking seventh this year, does not expect to get the opportunity to win, just as McGillivray thought last year.
"Basically if you don't take it down in the second round you probably aren't going to win," Parisi said. "I'm walking seventh this year and with Stew and Jake Wood ahead of me I don't think I will be getting a chance to win."
Good walkers also seem to feed off of one another on the pole. When one walker comes close, the next guy is that much more focused to take the flag down.