Did you know that EHS has a champion among us in an unusual sport?
Erie High School Junior AJ Juenemann competes in disc dog competitions with his pooch and was recently featured at half-time of the Denver Broncos football game versus the Chicago Bears!
This is only AJ’s second full year competing in disc sports with his dogs. He was the 2018 Colorado Youth Champion. In 2019 he moved up to the Open Pro division. This division adds freestyle to the distance/accuracy he previously competed in. He is the only youth competing in this division in the state of Colorado.
Disc dog has four main organizations: Ashley Whippet, Skyhoundz, UFO, and US Disc Dog Nationals (USDDN). AJ has qualified to compete in Worlds with 3 of the 4 organizations this year – Skyhoundz, UFO, and USDDN. In order to qualify for World Finals in these organizations, you must have a top 3 finish at a major competition. He just missed the podium with a 5th place finish at the Ashley Whippet major.
He has competed against some of the best, including former World Champions from the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Japan to qualify for Worlds. Rules vary slightly in the different organizations but in general, for distance/accuracy you have 60 seconds and one disc to get as many catches as you can with your dog in different scoring zones. For Freestyle you have two minutes and 5-7 discs to showcase your skills with your dog in a routine you have designed. Four different judges score difficulty (different types of throws, left handed throws, etc), flow of the routine, athleticism of the dog, communication and connection between the team, disc management, and catch ratio. To get a feel for freestyle, here is a video from last Saturday at a local competition in Littleton
. September 20th-22nd he will be competing at Skyhoundz World Championships in Chattanooga Tennessee with teams from all over the globe. On Friday he will compete in the last chance qualifier with Whoa Nelly, a new dog from a rescue in Texas that we brought home at the beginning of August. While we don’t expect Nelly to qualify, it’s good competition experience for her and allows AJ to get a feel of the field before he competes in the championships.
Saturday and Sunday he will be competing with Triple Play, a Border Collie he raised from a puppy, in the World Championships. I believe he is the only Colorado competitor to be competing in the Open Pro Championships at this event. The weekend of October 19th he will be in Austin, Texas to compete at the UFO World Cup Finals with Triple Play. He will also compete in the last chance qualifier with Whoa Nelly. I expect less of an International presence at this event as this organization also has a European finals. The weekend of November 2nd he will travel to Georgia to compete at the USDDN Word Finals with Triple Play. Nelly won’t make this trip as USDDN only allows you to qualify with one dog. You can follow his adventures on Instagram @discfunctionalcollies