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Judge Cheslie Pickett Smithey with Best Junior Handler Jacob Waters, 16.

The 2020 Junior Showmanship Finals at the AKC National Championship took place on Dec. 12 in Orlando, Florida. To qualify, juniors had to have at least three first-place wins in Open Class with competition present between Oct. 10, 2019 and Oct. 7, 2020. In addition, juniors must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 for the past school year.

Junior Handlers who met these qualifications convened in Orlando to compete for the title of Best Junior Handler.

After tough competition, Best Junior Handler in Junior Showmanship was awarded to Jacob Waters, 16, who showed his Miniature Pinscher Logan. Jacob has been in the Juniors program since he was nine years old.

The finals judge, Cheslie Pickett Smithey, used to be a Junior Handler herself. She aged out 13 years ago but continues to compete in conformation and judge.

“The best Junior Handler, I thought he showed his dog in a very breed-specific manner,” Cheslie explained after selecting Jacob. “It’s the future of our sport so it’s really exciting to see so much talent. The future looks bright.”

Jacob was elated after being awarded first place. “It feels great,” Jacob said. “Logan is very special. He loves to challenge bigger dogs and he’s very sweet and very obedient and very alert.”


1st Place – Jacob Waters, Miniature Pinscher
2nd Place – Abigail Van Meter, Setter (English)
3rd Place – Emma Rogers, Great Dane
4th Place – Katelyn Meyers, Rottweiler

Preliminary 1

Abigail Van Meter, Setter (English)
Alison Yoho, Retriever (Golden)
Bevin Towell, Papillon
Camila Granata, Russell Terrier
Emma Gallaway, Maltese
Emma Rogers, Great Dane

Preliminary 2

Jacob Waters, Miniature Pinscher
Katelyn Meyers, Rottweiler
Marit Alsager, Manchester Terrier (Toy)
O’Malley McGee, Pointer
Ryley Kirkland, Treeing Walker Coonhound
Zoe Morgan Keffer, Rottweiler

Missed the Show?

You can rewatch the Junior Showmanship Finals on-demand:

Want to Get Involved?

The AKC Juniors program offers children and teens between nine and 18 an opportunity to develop their handling skills and learn about good sportsmanship, dogs, and dog shows.

Juniors are eligible to compete in Showmanship, Obedience, Agility, Rally, Tracking, Hunt Tests, Herding, Field Trials, Earthdog, Lure Coursing, Coursing Ability, and Coonhound Events. There is no minimum age requirement for sports other than Showmanship (where you must be nine).

If your child is interested in becoming an AKC Junior Handler, the first step is to watch a show and sign up for a class. Juniors under 18 years old can sign up for a Junior Handler number here. This number will be used to track their participation in AKC sports.

Except in Junior Showmanship, Juniors will exhibit in the regular classes and in the field along with all other exhibitors at the trials and tests, where they can obtain the same titles on their dogs and awards as adult handlers if they qualify.

Junior participation in AKC sports will be recognized through the AKC Junior Recognition Program and at the end of the year, AKC will award the Junior Versatility Awards and Scholarships. You can go to this link to learn more about the AKC Junior Recognition Program.

For more information, email your questions to

Related article: Berger Picard “Beegee” Wins Best in Show at 2020 AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals
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