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1998 AKC Agility Nationals

1998 AKC Agility Nationals
 by Joanne Williamson

The AKC Agility National Championships were held November 13-15 at Henderson Arena in College Park, GA.  College Park is a suburb of Atlanta fairly close  to the Atlanta Airport, as was easy to tell from the noise of the planes overhead.  Another source of noise was the train line that went right by the front of the building.  Since there was a street crossing, the trains would blow their whistles just as they passed.

The arena was large enough to accommodate two 100 x 100 foot rings and was well lighted.  Bleachers lined the sides so it was easy to get a good view of all the action.  The footing was hard packed dirt.  Dust was a real problem.  Every evening the rings were watered down but by the end of a day's competition, everything was covered with dust and if you stood at one end and looked down the length of the ring, the dust caused it to look hazy inside.    Jerry and Lu Bergen with Breezy, Leslie Dawson-North with Chase and Kassi, and myself with Sean crated together in a back room off the arena.

BAD Beardes-1

Joanne Williamson  & Sean, Leslie Dawson-North with Chase & Kassi and Jerry Bergen with Breezy

It was a lot quieter, cooler, and less noisy than the arena area.   Other Beardie people in attendance without there dogs were:  Liz Cox who flew to Atlanta from NC and worked as a ring steward on Friday and Mary Jo Steger.  Tien Tran, a talented photographer who I think CA BAD members are well acquainted with, took ring shots that were available for purchase (I got three good ones of Sean).  Finally, there were vendors for all the agility stuff you or your dog might desire!

pawred

Friday was the team competition.  There were 19 teams entered. Entries from a single state formed a team unless there were less than four from the state in which case they were grouped together in some semi-logical way.  For instance, Jerry and Breezy were the only entry from Vermont so they were placed on a New England team and Leslie with Chase and Kassi were on a "North Country" team which included the other Canadian entrant as well as entries from other states sharing a border with Canada.  Prizes for individual performances were offered only at the international jump heights of 16" and 26".  This caused a number of people who would normally have entered 20" or 24" to compete at 26" so the 20" class, in which all the Beardies competed, was reduced in size and had 50 entries.  The competition was held under international rather than AKC rules.  Basically, this means the A-frame was at 6' 3" and the up-contact was judged (as in USDAA) rather than 5'6"with no up-contact judging (as in AKC), the contact zones were smaller, the time standards faster, knocked bars, missed contacts, and refusals were counted as 5-faults each rather than elimination (as in AKC), but off-courses did cause elimination.  In order to speed up judging, if you managed to accumulate any four types of faults before you finished the course, you were whistled off and received no score for the round.  The judges for the day were the AKC reps, Dan Dege and Katie Grier.  20" , 24" and 26" Jump heights were run in one ring while 8", 12", and 16" were done in the other ring.  We had Katie Grier for JWW and Dan Dege for standard.

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Joanne Williamson’s - “Sean”

Both courses were challenging but fun.  Sean and I had the honor (?) of being the first entry to show in the 20" class the whole weekend.  That meant on Friday and on Sunday we went first of everyone with no opportunity to watch before running.  Each morning there was an open course walk-thru from 7:30-8 am.  Then whichever class was running first had an additional eight minutes to walk the course.  In the afternoon, however, we only had a single 12-minute walk-thru so I had to cut mine short in order to make sure Sean was warmed up and ready to run.

On Friday morning, I found running first to be very scary and consequently my handling was somewhat tentative.  Sean was great, however.  Holding his stay through the noise of the PA system and the crowd, he had a solid but slow round, no course faults but 5.13 time faults which turned out to be very significant to the team results.  Leslie and Chase had some problems and incurred an off-course.  But Leslie came back and had a beautiful clean, fast run with Kassi.  Jerry  and Breezy also had an outstanding clean run;  Breezy was really on and moving like a dark gray streak!

The afternoon standard class was also a fun class with no table to slow the dogs down.  I chose to run with Sean from the start and when we were about four obstacles into the course, Dan blew his whistle.  What a terrible sound!  At first, all I could think of was I hadn't even done enough obstacles to make four mistakes.  But it turned out that the timer's watch had malfunctioned.  So we went back and started again.  Sean responded with a nice clean run, well under SCT.  Leslie and Chase again had problems, a see-saw flyoff, and a missed contact but a really nice time.  Leslie and Kassi had their second outstanding run of the day, and Jerry and Breezy were great also.

The afternoon standard class was also a fun class with no table to slow the dogs down.  I chose to run with Sean from the start and when we were about four obstacles into the course, Dan blew his whistle.  What a terrible sound!  At first, all I could think of was I hadn't even done enough obstacles to make four mistakes.  But it turned out that the timer's watch had malfunctioned.  So we went back and started again.  Sean responded with a nice clean run, well under SCT.  Leslie and Chase again had problems, a see-saw flyoff, and a missed contact but a really nice time.  Leslie and Kassi had their second outstanding run of the day, and Jerry and Breezy were great also.

The 4-dogs from each of the 5 teams had a final round on a new course to determine the team championship.  You could really see the effect the pressure had as each team had one member eliminated due to an off-course.  When the dust settled, the standings had changed completely:  1- Illinois, 2- California, 3- Minnesota, 4- Ohio, 5- Texas.  The individual winners of the international classes were Gerrie Brown of Texas with his BC, Larrie, in the 26" class (0 faults/65.92 seconds for 2 rnds), and Diane Bauman of New Jersey and her Cocker Spaniel, Torville (0 faults/68.60 seconds).  Both had been members of the 1998 AKC World team.  In the 20" height class (of 50 total entries), the individual standings were as follows:  1-Annelise Allen of MN and BC, Bradish (0 faults 74.76 sec), 2-Leslie Dawson-North and Kassi (0 faults/77.68 seconds), 5- Jerry Bergen and Breezy (0 faults/84.29), 12- Joanne Williamson and Sean (5.13 faults/88.99), 40- Leslie Dawson-North and Chase (10/85.68).  Since these classes were run under international rules, they were only for fun and practice-  no legs could be won.

Interestingly, the practice turned out to be important as there were a lot of see-saw fly-offs in standard on Friday.  The see-saw had slats and was a bit heavy to turn and a number of dogs approached it as if it were the dog walk and were most surprised to find it moving.  Everyone was a quick learner, however, because on Saturday and Sunday there were few fly-offs overall.

Saturday's and Sunday's competition constituted the National Championships. There were two rounds each day- one standard and one JWW.  On Saturday, standard was first and on Sunday, the order was flipped.  Our judges on Saturday were Mike Bond and Tom Schultz and on Sunday, Kim Thomas-Simmons and Lori Schultz.  The rules under which the competition was held were modified.  First, although we had to do the table, the 5 seconds were not added to the SCT as they usually are.

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Joanne Williamson’s - “Sean”

Second, any off-course, refusal, or knocked bar was scored at 18 faults/occurrence instead of the usual 5, thus an off-course would lead to an NQ.  There were 96 entries in the 20" height class of which 91 ran in all four rounds.

Saturday's Standard was another fun but challenging course.  The weave pole entry was difficult and in addition was followed by a tunnel discrimination which caused many entries to miss the last pole or go into the wrong end of the tunnel.  On Saturday, the 20" class ran after the 24" so I had a chance to watch and get some idea of the problem areas on the course.  Sean and I led off with a solid clean run.  We were followed by Leslie and Chase who were also clean.  Leslie and Kassi had an outstanding run- her time would have been even faster but Kassi decided to get up off her elbows "commenting" to Leslie while on the table and necessitating a restart of the table count.  Jerry and Breezy were the last of the BADs to go.  They had an outstanding run going until after the table when they incurred an off-course.  Jerry, however, kept going and finished the run which was important because it meant they got a non-zero score for the round.  The Beardies placed as follows:  Kassi, 19th;  Chase, 22nd;  Sean, 26th; Breezy, 74th.  The JWW course, by comparison, seemed relatively easy.  That doesn't mean some dogs didn't handle the course well.  One of the BCs who earned a placement in the morning standard class was eliminated with a 0 on the JWW course.  Sean and  I again led off the 20" entries with a clean, but somewhat slow run.  Leslie's Chase and Kassi both turned in clean, fast runs and as did Jerry and Breezy.  At the end of the second, the Beardie standings were as follows:  Kassi, 13th;  Chase, 16th;  Sean, 23rd;  Breezy, 63rd.

The results of the Sunday classes determined the overall winners.  The morning JWW course took its toll among the 24" leaders-  Gerrie Brown with Larrie and Nancy Gyes with Riot and Scud all had faults on this course and dropped out of contention.  There were two serpentine sequences, a weave pole/tunnel discrimination, and a difficult pinwheel.  Lots of dropped bars and off-courses.  Sean and I ran first of everyone.  We led off the class with our third solid, clean run of the competition.  Leslie's Chase and Kassi both turned in outstanding clean runs.  Jerry and Breezy had a clean run but time faults due to a couple of small problems.  At the end of the third round, the Beardie standings were as follows:  Kassi, 7th;  Chase, 10th;  Sean, 18th;  Breezy, 53rd.  We were all very proud that Leslie placed both her Beardies in the top ten for the final standard round.  All of the top ten ranked dogs in each height class were pulled from the regular running order and run at the end of the class in reverse order of the placements i.e. 10th first to 1st last.  Animal Planet filmed the final standard round and it is supposed to be aired January 23, 1999.  They had mini cameras in a tunnel, near the weave poles and on jump wings.  The standard course didn't seem all that hard but had tricky sequences that claimed a number of casualties.  After the table, there was a tunnel/circular jump sequence that  required you to avoid a tunnel discrimination followed immediately by a see-saw call-off-  many fast dogs were on the see-saw before their handlers could get a word out!  Sean and I led off the final round.  He turned in his 4th, and best, clean run of the competition.

Jerry and Breezy had a solid qualifying run.  By the end of the round, but before the ten leaders had run, Sean was in 14th place.  Poor Leslie had to wait through 180+ 20" and 24" dogs with the pressure mounting.  She opened the finals with a good, clean run with Chase.  The 9th place dog NQ'd with a bar down.  A Keeshond had a clean run.  And then amazingly all but the #1 and #2 ranked dogs proceeded to NQ.  It was difficult for Leslie who had to run Kassi with only two dogs in between.  They were having an excellent run when inexplicably, Kassi missed a weave pole.  Only 4 of the top ten 20" dogs qualified in the final round.  But we were very proud that one of the teams was Chase and Leslie who ended up fourth overall with a spot on the winner's podium.  The final Beardie standings were as follows:  Chase, 4th  (400/176.94);  Sean, 8th (400/191.37);  Kassi, 24th (361/188.74);  Breezy, 36th (334/207.06).  These final results show the value of consistency over sheer speed in a competition like this.  Only 8 dogs of 91 in the class had four clean rounds.

It was great to spend the weekend with Jerry and Lu, Leslie and her husband, and their Beardies.  Collectively, we had a lot to be proud of.  Our dogs gave their best in every round and we all received numerous compliments on their performances.  And we all went home with multiple green ribbons (well, except for Sunday, when they ran out of green ribbons because more teams had qualified than expected).  As for me, I am really proud of myself- a whole weekend of pressure and not one attack of the major "stupids", a personal record.  And Sean has four new toys he got to "shop" for himself-  one for each clean run!  So now its on the Springfield on Friday and three chances to earn that 10th MXJ leg.

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BAD Beardies:  Sean, Chase & Kassi, Breezy

The details:

Chase
11/14/98 Ex, 20"-  100, no placing, 52.22/56
11/14/98 ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 35.52/45
11/15/98 Ex, 20"-  100, no placing, 54.74/61
11/15/98 ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 34.46/39

Kassi
11/14/98 Ex, 20"-  100, no placing,  50.88/56
11/14/98 ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 34.15/45
11/15/98 ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 34.87/39

Sean
11/14/98, Ex, 20"-  100, no placing, 53.90/56  MX18
11/14/98, ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 40.95/45  MXJ8
11/15/98, Ex, 20"-  100, no placing, 57.47/61  MX19
11/15/98, ExJWW, 20"-  100, no placing, 39.05/39  MXJ9

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