2016 AKC NAC 20″ Preview: The Biggest Class

Sarah Baker and Hops photo credit: GreatDane Photos
Sarah Baker and Hops
photo credit: GreatDane Photos
The 20″ Regular class boasts the largest number of entries of any class at nationals. The competition will be particularly tough this year because several top dogs have moved down from 26″ to this class. Defending champion Sarah Baker and border collie Hops will have a tough time defending their title against teams like Rosanne DeMascio and Strafe. Rosanne and Strafe have just returned from Crufts where they won the International Invitational Final. Strafe was also the highest placing American dog at the FCI Agility World Championship last year in the individual events. Previous border collie finalists include Linda Mecklenburg and Wonder, Naci Berkoz and Will, Angela Dotson and Bekha, and Jennifer Crank and Sonic. In terms of PowerScore, Carol Schiefer and Schemer, Dawn Wessels and Jia, Dave Hill and Viper, Susan McGowen and Jedi (also a previous finalist), and Nancy Little with Schema are must watch dogs. John Nys and his border collie Trick combine experience and speed and will be a formidable pair this weekend.

Robin Kletke and Mynx, the 2014 champion, will also run in this stacked field. Current European Open team members Tawni Millet and Jolt, and Kaitlyn Dreese and Karli Renay will also be in the mix.

There’s been an interesting development with Nancy Gyes and her border collie Scoop, as they were the runner up in last year’s 24″ final, but will jump in the 20″ class this year. Nancy recently challenged Scoop’s measurement, allowing him to move down to 20″.

Border collies in this height class are undefeated, having won the finals every single year since the creation of the national event 20 years ago. Terry Simons and Ripper, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever and Mark Bills and Snap, a golden retriever, were the only non-border collie finalists last year. Still, there are a few non-border collie dogs that you should keep a close eye on this weekend. Both Kathy Ecker and malinois Ty and this year’s Westminster 20″ finalist Esteban Fernandezlopez and golden retriever Gitchi are legitimate contenders. Gitchi, ranked #5 by PowerScore for 26″, has moved down to 20″ and will try to use her running contacts to end the border collie dominance of this class.

Sarah Fernandezlopez

Sarah Fernandezlopez

A long time competitor and instructor, Sarah rounds out her busy schedule as a full time software programmer and mother of two children. She has competed with four different breeds at the highest levels of AKC and USDAA, including both national championships as well as the AKC Invitational.