Posted by: allstaragility | August 22, 2013

Team Pentathlon Agility 2

I was delighted this year to have the opportunity to run a team class at the WAO. The way the team event works is that 3 dogs/handlers run for their team in each round; one dog and handler for each height with one height sitting out per round.  I like it because the team managers could pick and choose who they felt would be best to represent the country in each class and we had a lot of input as to our feelings about running the courses.  There was no restriction for how many times a handler/dog ran for their height in the Team Pentathlon and several USA handlers ran most or all of the team runs, save the round their height sat out (way to go, Jean Lavalley and Cheer!).  Last year Solei and I did not run any team rounds, but we were so much greener and there were handler/dogs much better suited to contribute to the team event.   It worked out very well this year that those of us running dogs in the 650 division for USA (Dudley Fontaine and Jack, Linda Mecklenberg and Wonder, Daisy Peel and Solar along with Solei and I) each got to run for the team once.

Course maps were distributed early in the morning and team managers/coaches had 30 minutes to decide who was running and report it to the show committee. Coming into the event, I thought Solei and I could contribute to the Team Pentathlon if the right course presented itself.   With this round, the final one before the team finals on Sunday, I saw this course and felt confident that Solei and I could knock out a solid run on it.   Dudley and Daisy had already run and it was decided Solei and I would take this round and Linda would anchor us for the team relay.

2013_18-5_PM_TeamPentAg2 (2)

Video of our run can be found HERE.  Also, Mary Ellen Barry and George Mariakis put together an amazing video compilation of USA’s Team Pentathlon runs that can be seen HERE.

The opening was a fairly familiar one with the push to the backside of #2.  I debated quite a bit about whether to pull to the take-off side of #2 and front cross or push and serpentine to a blind cross on the landing side of 2.   Since this was a team run and I felt front crossing on the take-off side of 2 was less risky and would give me more push-power to the #4 tunnel, that swayed my decision.

I then had to decide if I was getting a blind cross in after the tunnel or rear crossing #5.  Because I wanted to get so far ahead of Solei after the A-Frame, I felt that blind crossing and giving a quick cue to jump #5 while taking off quickly would get me a tighter turn and allow me to leave faster than the rear cross.

The reason for me wanting to get so far ahead of Solei on the AF was ultimately because I wanted to get in a blind cross at the end of the dogwalk.  I know that some people might have considered it “ballsy”, but there was no question in my mind that was going to be the most successful for us if I could be there in time (which was a doubt in my mind!).   By front crossing on the landing side of #7 (much closer to 7 than 8) and sending Solei forward with her wrap cue to #8, it allowed me to take off much sooner so I was far enough ahead to blind cross at the end of the dogwalk to the correct end of the tunnel.  There were a number of people who front crossed after #8 and ran on with the dogwalk on their left.  I briefly looked at this option before realizing there was no way I would be able to beat Solei with her running dogwalk up the line to push to the correct end of the tunnel.

The following sequence after the tunnel was pretty unique and one that I have used a few times in teaching classes and seminars.  There was some consternation with people walking this as to how best to finesse it.  The first concern was getting the dogs to the correct side of #11 without taking the off course jump (didn’t prove to be too much of a problem).  Then, it was about getting the dogs from #12-13 without having a really wide turn or possibly taking the tunnel again.  I toyed around with executing a wrap blind cross (insert Ketschker or whatever name you want) but decided I didn’t want to be on top of the #12 jump if I had to get around and between jump #11 and the tunnel openings to the wall jump.   Here I again relied on my wrap cue to send to #11 and, as Solei was executing the wrap, got myself between the #11 jump and the tunnels so that by the time she caught up with me, I was cueing with my motion towards the correct obstacle, the wall jump. Something that had crossed my mind while walking was to front cross after #12 to take out the tunnel options and rear cross the #13 wall to get a tighter turn to the weaves.  It worked well when I ran it that way at home, but I wasn’t certain about rear crossing the wall in a team run.  From there, it was a decent line to the weaves.

My goal was to get up to cue collection for the front cross while Solei was coming out of the weaves so it wouldn’t be too much of a push to the take-off side of #16.  I felt it was pretty split as to the handlers that wrapped their dogs to the right vs. left at #16-17.   I felt that my front cross on the landing side of #15 put Solei on her right lead which made the wrap to the right at #16 much more natural and created a better line to the teeter than going the other direction.

The ending from the teeter was a little more deceptive than what you might think on first glance.  Some dogs took the off course jump (which Solei looked at as I was a little late rotating from my front cross) and some completely missed the last jump; i believe they thought that #19 was the finish jump and weren’t really looking for another one.   I had planned to execute another front cross after #19 to drive to the last jump, but after Solei glanced at the incorrect jump, ended up just pulling the final line.

Also representing USA in this round were Mike Padgett and Kona (300 division) and Jean Lavalley and Cheer (400 division), who also had smoking runs.  With our combined effort, Team USA won this round and ultimately earned the Gold medal in the Team Pentathlon.  England took the Silver medal while Wales earned Bronze.

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