The 2022 National Championship originally drew 25 contenders for the title, but before the field trial got underway, two dogs had to be withdrawn because of health conditions: Touch’s Blackout and Whippoorwill Forever Wild. That left 23 dogs, all drawn to run in the 12 braces of the week at Saturday night’s drawing. Weather permitting, this year’s championship would be completed in one week.
Brace 1. It was a cold (27°F), sunny morning to kick off 2022 National Championship on Valentine’s Day. Monday February 14, with Whippoorwill Justified, handled by Larry Huffman, and the only setter in this year’s field trial, Woodville's Yukon Cornelius, handled by Mark McLean, taking the course at 8:00 a.m. Whippoorwill Justified had an unproductive at 1:07 just east of Mary Scott Basin. He was picked up at 1:41 in the Morgan Field. Woodville’s Yukon Cornelius had a back at 1:07 and he had an unproductive at 2:12 west of the old Keegan house. He finished the 3 hours.
Brace 2. By the afternoon brace the temperature had warmed to 57°F, with sunny skies still prevalent. Two rookies, Quickmarksman’s Dan, handled by Mike Hester, and Stash The Cash, the first of five dogs handled by Gary Lester, hit the course at 1:13 p.m.
Quickmarksman’s Dan had a stop to flight at 0:54 when four quail flew over him and an unproductive at 2:26 in a feed patch in Fason Bottom. Race shortened and Judges told Hester they would be glad to look at Dan if he wanted to continue, but he could not be placed as champion. Dan was picked up at 2:40. Hester is the only Black man handler at the National this year. Stash The Cash had a find at 0:47 in milo stubble in the Agronomy Unit north of Wolf Crossing. He had an unproductive at 0:53 - birds flushed wild a distance behind the dog and flushing attempt in front of the dog failed to produce feathers. An unfortunate incident caused Cash to become lame and he was picked up at 1:33.
Brace 3. February 15, Day 2 of the National Championship, got off to a cool 37°F but sunny start. The only two females in the competition ran this morning, starting at 8 a.m. Coldwater Thunder, last year’s champion, returned for her fifth year with Steve Hurdle as her handler. Miss Stylin Sue is a six-year-old rookie handled by Allen Vincent. Coldwater Thunder had a find at 1:30 in Milo stubble in National Championship South. She finished the 3 hours. Miss Stylin Sue had a find at 1:07 just east of Mary Scott Basin. The Scout found her standing at 2:42 in the Edward Corral. Birds flushed wild and were not officially seen. Sue finished the 3 hours as well. The girls certainly showed they have the endurance!
Brace 4. Weather was sunny and 68°F at the afternoon breakaway, with two rookies running in this brace. Hendrix’s Touch Up was handled by Burke Hendrix and Dominator’s Rogue Rebel was handled by Jamie Daniels. Cutting horse trainer Zeke Entz was out to watch Burke Hendrix run his dog.
Hendrix's Touch Up had an unproductive at 0:36 on the south end of the Chute and a back at 1:10. He had a find at 2:08 north of Carlisle Corner and another find at 2:23 in a feed patch in Fason Bottom. At 2:36 he had an unproductive in a feed patch in the Supermarket field, but took too many steps while his handler was flushing and was picked up. Dominator's Rogue Rebel had an unproductive at 0:30 in Buster Graves Loop and another unproductive at 1:10 east of the Lawrence Smith Barn field and was picked up.
Brace 5. Weather was cloudy, breezy, and 52°F at the 8 a.m. breakaway, Wednesday February 16. This morning’s warm and windy weather was predicted to bring heavy rain and possible severe storms tomorrow, Thursday. Lester’s Storm Surge, handled by Gary Lester and Touch’s Malcolm Story, handled by Mark McLean, have both been contenders in the National Championship previously.
Lester’s Storm Surge had an unproductive at 0:27 in a terrace between the Turner House Field and Lower Turner Field. There was a divided find at 1:04 in a feed patch east of Mary Scott Basin and he had a back at 2:24. Storm Surge finished the 3 hours. Touch’s Malcolm Story had an unproductive in a terrace between the Turner House Field and Lower Turner Field followed by a stop to flush at 0:34 in the woods on the west side of Turner Long Neck. There was a divided find at 1:04 in a feed patch east of Mary Scott Basin. He was standing at 2:24 north of the Pine Hill Cutover, but birds were not officially seen. He was standing again at 2:33 in Edward Clark Pasture - a rabbit was seen. His final find came at 2:44 in a feed patch in the Morgan Swamp. Story completed the 3-hour race.
Brace 6. Wednesday’s afternoon brace was partly to mostly cloudy with the temperature at 70°F, pitting Touch’s Fire Away, handled by Randy Anderson, against Miller’s Speed Dial, the 2020 National Champion, owned and handled by Gary Lester.
Touch’s Fire Away had an unproductive at 0:56 in the Water Truck field and another at 1:24 on Pine Hill. He was picked up following the second unproductive. Miller’s Speed Dial had a find at 0:12 in the East Pasture Hay Field and another at 0:40 in the Chute. At 2:54 he had an unproductive in the Morgan Field. Speed Dial completed the 3 hours.
On Thursday February 17, rain and thunderstorms moved into the area, requiring the morning brace to be cancelled. Due to the threat of severe weather in the afternoon, Thursday’s afternoon brace was also canceled. But the Brunswick Stew & BBQ, provided by Ricky Hoskins and Virgil Proctor and sponsored by Sportsman’s Pride, would still go on at Bryan Hall Thursday evening.
Brace 7. On Friday morning February 18, action resumed on the National Championship course with Game Wardon, handled by Dr. Fred Corder, and Dream Chaser, handled by Andy Daugherty, hitting the course at 8 a.m. It was cloudy and 27°F at the breakaway. Game Wardon had a find at 0:15 in the Morgan Field. He was picked up at 1:32. Dream Chaser had no bird work. He was picked up at 0:42.
Brace 8. The start Friday’s afternoon brace was a bit warmer at 40°F with bright sunshine as Westfall’s True Grit, handled by Andy Daugherty, and Marques Armed Robber, handled by Lefty Henry, took their turn on the course at 1:09 p.m. Westrall’s True Grit is a six-year-old returning for his fifth year in the National. Marques Armed Robber is a seven-year-old. Westfall's True Grit had no bird work. He was picked up at 0:36. Marques Armed Robber had a find at 0:38 on the Chute and an unproductive at 1:26 on Pine Hill. He was picked up at 2:32.
Brace 9. Saturday morning February 19 started a bit chilly at 31°F with Lowrider Frank, handled by Allen Vincent, and Touch’s Gallatin Fire, handled by Mark McLean. Lowrider Frank had a find at 0:38 in Turner Pines food plot. He was lost at Lowlands Turn. Tracker was requested at 1:24. Touch’s Gallatin Fire had a find at 0:15 in Morgan Field soybean strip. He had an unproductive at 1:34 south of the Supermarket Field. At 1:50 he had a find in a soybean strip in Edward Scott South and at 1:53 pointed, but birds were not seen officially. Fire had an uproductive at 2:27 in Edward Clark North and was picked up.
Brace 10. Saturday afternoon was warm at 52°F and sunny. Game Heir, handled by Fred Corder, and Lester’s Boss Man, handled by Gary Lester, took the course at 1:07 p.m. Game Heir had no bird work. Tracker was requested at 2:00 mark. Lester's Boss Man had a find at 0:10 on the north end of the East Pasture hay field. He had an unproductive at 0:17 in Buster Graves. Tracker requested at 1:17.
Brace 11. Sunday morning February 20 was a chilly 30°F and sunny. Jamie Daniels handled Miller’s Blindsider, with Andy Daugherty handling Westfall’s River Ice. Miller's Blindsider had no work. He was picked up at 1:37. Westfall's River Ice had an unproductive at 0:35 in the Turner Basin Field. He was picked up at 1:08.
Brace 12. Sunday afternoon was a warm 65°F and sunny as Lester’s Shock Wave hit the course solo at 1:13 p.m. Lester's Shock Wave had a find at 0:23 in the Mounting Block Field and another at 0:33 in the Horseshoe. His third find came at 0:45 in the Chute and he had a stop to flush at 1:20 east of Lawrence Smith. A fourth find came at 2:23 in Fason Bottom and his fifth and final find was at 2:50 in Morgan Swamp. He competed the three hours.