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Juniors in the Spotlight

The gold medal juniors from Saturday run the Grand Prix course. By Leona Hellesvig

Five junior handlers participated in the Junior Handler Spotlight.  These juniors earned this honor by earning a gold medal (5 faults or less) in the intermediate or senior class run on Saturday.  The junior handler spotlight was run on the actual Grand Prix Final's course on Sunday.

Parker Weishaar from Phoenix said he was very nervous about running the Grand Prix course, but was confident that he could do it.  It was Parker's second time at the Cynosport World Games, but the first time he was running in the spotlight.

These runs in the spotlight are not scored, and no placements are awarded.  A major goal for all of these kids is just to come and to be part of the Spotlight. Just being here is an honor.  Many have never run on a course of this complexity.  A normal Intermediate course would be only 12-14 obstacles, and a normal Senior course would be 13-15 obstacles.  The Grand Prix course has 20 obstacles. To be suddenly in the "spotlight" and faced with a course with 12 weave poles (in stead of the normal 6 in a junior handler course), and even the seesaw (not an obstacle used in Intermediate level class), and to do so in front of a huge cheering crowd is reason for much adrenaline!

The large crowd on the bleachers was extremely supportive of the juniors, and the atmosphere was electrifying as each handler was cheered through the course, a group "holding their breath" moment at difficult sections, followed by wild applause when the handler had success. 

Here is a description of each run:

16" Class

P16017, Intermediate, Meghan Sharp and Labrador "Essy"
A run-by/refusal at #5 (not scored by USDAA Junior Handler Program rules).  Meghan performed a cross in front after the collapsed tunnel, and a cross after the dog walk.  Essy ran under the tire, and had to try again, She missed the down contact on the a-frame, and another refusal at #15.  Meghan came off the course smiling at her big accomplishment in completing this difficult course.

P16109, Intermediate, Parker Weishaar and Golden "Candy"
Parker took a lead out to jump #2, and did a crowd-pleasing count-down for his dog with fingers in the air as he counted --  three, two, one.  Oops-- Candy went to visit the ring crew in stead of starting the course.  Back to get Candy's attention, and they were off.  Parker did a cross behind after the collapsed tunnel.  Candy thought the crowd looked interesting, and went to the ringside to take a look at everyone in the bleachers (only about 2 seconds or so), then back on course.  Candy came out of the poles, and still didn't complete them after a re-try.  Parker called Candy to avoid a wrong course after #12.  Candy went visiting the ring crew again after jump #19, before the sharp left turn to jump #20.  Parker was absolutely elated that he made it through this tough course, since it was much more challenging than anything he had ever encountered in the Intermediate junior handler program.

P16029, Senior, Austin Lightner and Border collie "Aero"
A little confusion on a cross after #3.  Very fast!  Incredible weave pole performance.  A run-by at #13.  The dog checked in with the handler after #17, causing a spin in place.  A wonderful run!

P16103, Senior, Melinda Pope and Border collie "Talli"
An absolutely incredible smooth run in 36.17 (as fast as some of the dogs in the actual Grand Prix).  All I can say is wow!

22" Class

P22006, Intermediate, Meagan Johnson and Border collie "Nessa"
A very fast and wonderful run.  Nessa popped out in the weave poles, but a second attempt was successful.  Meagan was able to call Nessa quickly before she took a wrong course tunnel after #15.  A great run!

No actual awards or scores were kept for the Spotlight runs, so there are none to report in the results section.  Each handler was awarded a very special rosette which had a center green streamer labeled with show information, and two outer streamers with photos representing all the different sports at the Cynosport games.  They also received a big afghan in USDAA design. 

All of the kids had a wonderful time, and will have great memories of this event for the rest of their lives.


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