The AKC National Agility Championships
By Joanne Williamson
The ninth AKC National Agility Championships and Iams International State Team Tournament were held January 14-16, 2005 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, FL. Every year the requirements for entry to this prestigious tournament have been made more stringent and this year was no exception. To qualify, a team had to earn at least 4 DQs (DQ = legs in Standard and JWW on the same day) and 150 MACH points (1 MACH pt = 1 full second under SCT) between October 3, 2003 and October 31, 2004. This year marked the first time a speed requirement had been added. The entry limit was set at 750 dogs, and to everyone's surprise, it was reached on October 11, three weeks before the closing date, making this the largest AKC Nationals held to date.
Based on their performances in 2003-2004,
nine Beardies qualified to compete:
Only Jax and Jeff Ipser made the trip to Florida. This team had a terrific year in 2004, and came into the Nationals needing one DQ to complete their MACH. They were cheered on by a number of BCCA members including Jeff's wife Sharon, Beth Canner, Nona Albarano, Bea Sawka, Andrea Hobe, and Lori Weinberg.
Right at the start, Jeff observed that there were differences in procedure and atmosphere from normal weekend agility competition: "The Tampa convention center opened for crating at 4 pm on Thursday. The outside temperature was in the 80s. It was warmer inside since the air conditioning wasn't turned on until midnight. After showing our entry, we were personally escorted to our 3 ft by 5 ft crating area. Everyone was assigned a time period to walk the courses. The walk throughs were limited to 8 minutes and timed. We walked at 7:15 am and didn't run the first course until after 9 am. There were an additional hundred 20" dogs that ran after me that walked the course earlier that morning. Some people ran the courses 3 hours after they had walked them. The jumpers courses had standard course times in the mid 30s. The standard courses didn't have a table and course times were between 48 and 53 seconds. Faults were 18 point deductions. Time faults were 3 points per full second over, just like Excellent A scoring. Overall, the courses were very challenging and tested your skills."
The Iams Team Tournment was on Friday and consisted of a Standard and JWW course run under international rules. Jeff and Jax were one of 55 teams representing Ohio. Massachusetts won the state tournament for the first time, with Washington, Illinois, Texas, and California in 2nd-5th. Ohio finished sixth.
The National Championships were held on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's competition included regular Standard and JWW runs. According to Andrea Hobe who was there to watch, "Our very own Jeff Ipser and his boy Jax were the only Beardies competing in agility this year and he did us proud. He was even one toenail away from getting his MACH at the Nationals!!! On Saturday, Jax had a beautiful standard run but missed the down contact on the dog walk. I don't remember what his time was but it was very good. He had a clean jumpers run again in good time." Round 3 on Sunday was a hybrid standard-JWW course. Jax again ran fast and well but missed qualifying. After three rounds of competition, the top 12 dogs overall earned automatic entry into the finals. Jeff observed that "only 19 dogs (of 181 entered) running in the 20" class had three clean runs." The 20" Challenger's class (round 4) consisted of dogs who had placed in the first three rounds but were not already qualified for the finals. Only the winner of the Challenger's class gained a place in the finals, so all of the handlers were going for broke. The winner of this class was Terry Smorch and his Border Collie, Remy from MN. Round 5 was the Championship finals. It was a technical and challenging standard course designed by former AKC agility rep and world team coach, Dan Dege. The winner of this round was crowned the 20" National Champion and it was again Remy and Terry. Jeff observed "the weekend provided an excellent opportunity to watch the best in the country run their dogs. Even though Jax isn't as fast as the fastest Border Collies, I realized that we have mastered the same skills used by the top handlers and dogs."
The 2005 National Championships are again planned
for Tampa. Because of the large entry this year, AKC is considering
raising the entry requirements substantially to 8 DQs and 450
MACH points. According to Andrea, when the rumors of this steep
increase began circulating in Tampa during the team tournament
on Friday, it generated "so many complaints and arguments
(for both sides) that they (AKC) decided to wait and make their
final decision in April. So make sure you start racking up those
DQs and points now, just in case!"
AKC National Agility Championships 2004
AKC National Agility Championships 2003
AKC National Agility Championships 2002
AKC National Agility Championships 2001
AKC National Agility Championships 2000
AKC National Agility Championships 1998
AKC National Agility Championships 1997
Off to a BAD Start
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