By Robert Tomczak

The NVA, National Vizsla Association, held its annual National Quail Championships on the always improving Denmark grounds at Pyramid State Park near Cutler, Illinois. The popularity of this championship continues to grow and is a favorite event among competitors, though numbers were down slightly this year. The weather was spectacular for the event and made for pleasant conditions for competitors, both man and dog alike, up until the final day when rain moved in.

The venue for the event here on the Denmark grounds of Pyramid State Park continues to get better each year. It is amazing the changes that have been made and is inspiring to see how this once muddy parking area that was used at the park for field trials has been transformed to a top-notch field trial grounds. The almost 20,000 acres of reclaimed strip mines has been turned into a wonderful state park to be used by all for many activities. We have come from using a large Purina tent in a muddy lot to nice gravel roads, to numerous waterlines, to a brand-new clubhouse with kitchen and bathroom, to the final addition of electric hookups this summer/fall. This is just half of the facilities with a building, barn, bathrooms and bird pens constructed across the road on the north Captain side of the park. All this has been possible by the help, hard work, vision, of so many different groups and people. Groups like FTCI, numerous bird dog clubs, the ILDNR, Dr.Roo and the list is to long to mention. A nice commemorative sign hangs on the wall in the new building, acknowledging many who worked together and made donations to accomplish this wonderful gift to the public.

We would like to thank site superintendent Cha Hill and his fabulous crew for their hard work maintaining the park, mowing areas of the grounds, and all the various work they do for the public and for the field trailers and dog clubs that use these venues. Cha came out on his day off to make sure the dog wagon was dropped off to make the running of the event as smooth as possible. A thank you also to Barb Foster and Terry Musser for all the work they do at the state in scheduling and the issuing of permits for the events. The grounds itself looked great from the mowing of the parking area, to the mowing some of the heavy cover on the grounds, to the mild grazing of the pastures, to the nice big and small crop fields. Unfortunately, this year a large piece of course 2 with large milo fields were unharvested making them unusable. Fortunately, with some creative thinking, chairman Robert Tomczak made some alterations and came up with nice courses that were fair to all; however, it created challenges logistically. Thanks to our Chairs Robert Tomczak and Justin Hess, and the rest of our committee for all the help with the extra work needed and for the day to daily bird maintenance, bird planting, dog wagon driving, food preparation and the list goes on and on. Also, for all the countless hours taken preceding the event and behind the scenes acquiring judges, filling paperwork, obtain, making calls, etc. etc. etc. Thanks to Chad Chadwell, Nancy Brown, Paul Howard, Peter Coppens, Todd Meyer, Damon Daniels, Carrie Syczylo, Karen Concilio, Sheri Pharris, Jaime Fountian, and Brian Gingrich.

We would like to thank and greatly appreciate our sponsors. Purina Pro Plan with rep Terry Trzcinski who joined us for a day and helped in the dog wagon. Garmin for the collar donation to our winners, and Win Pro for the supplements. Tremendous companies with outstanding products. Thanks to Greg Soderberg for his cash donation for the event. It is only because of the generosity and sacrifices of many individuals and companies that we can keep this great sport going.

Open Championship


Winner BGKs White Lightning

Runner up CK Post Route Scout 

Bottom Row - Allison Bell and Jim Gingrich

Top Row - Barb Vitkauskas, Mark Vitkauskas, Natalie Howard, Jill Howard, Jarrett Bell, Paul Howard, Judge Tommy Tracy, Justin Hess, Chad Chadwell, Judge Tony King, Vincent Tuttle, Rob Tomczak, Brian Gingrich, Nancy Brown, Carrie Syczylo, Sean Anderson, Ron Chenoweth.

Thirty dogs were entered and thirty dogs came to the line and BGK’s White Lightening or “Smudge” was named winner of this year’s National Quail Championship. Smudge is owned and handled by Jarrett Bell and was scouted by wife Allison Bell and ran in brace 6, the final brace of the first day. BGK’S White Lightening had 3 evening spaced finds coming at 20, 40, and the third at 50 minutes in the olive grove. Smudge had a nice consistent smooth flowing forward race and finished up front at time. This is was her first championship win and shows great promise for the future.

CK Post Route “Scout “was named runner up and is owned by Jim Gingrich and handled by his son, pro trainer Brian Gingrich. Scout was our 2017 National Champion and is a nice young dog that has a very bright future. CK Post Route Scout ran in the 10th brace the fourth brace of the second day. Scout had a find at 34, a divided find at 50 and a final find at 57 minutes. He ran a very strong powerful race and a very nice finish to the hour. Judges for the championship were longtime Brittany pro Tommy Tracy of Nebraska and pointer man and AFTCA delegate Tony King of Missouri. We are thankful for their time in the saddle and their decision was well received.


Debry Classic

Winner  Burr Oaks Born Again 

Runner Up CV Red Headed Flying Dutchman

1st Runner Up BGKs Sako Finnfire

Bottom Row - Jim Gingrich, Matt Roesner, Allison Bell

Top Row - Judge John Small, Todd Meyer, Brian Gingrich, Judge Tommy Tracy, Vincent Tuttle, Tonya Tuttle, Ron Chenoweth, Rob Tomczak, Jarrett Bell, Justin Hess, Jody Deford, Carrie Syczylo, Kevin Deford

The NVA Quail Derby Classic commenced in the afternoon on Monday after the completion of the Open Championship. We had bright sunshine and warm but pleasant temperatures for the running of these young dogs. Thank you to our judges Jon Small of Missouri and Tommy Tracy of Nebraska. Sixteen dogs were entered, and all came to the line. The courses gave great opportunity to stretch and run and places to hunt. The judges mentioned they were looking for a forward intelligent run with good hunting skills that would display big run and great future potential. It should be noted the Derby stake this year included several very young dogs at around a year of age. The dogs ran well although displayed a bit of immaturity at this point. Time and experience will no doubt help transform these young dogs into great future competitors.

The winner this year was Burr Oak’s Born Again or “Toby”. Toby ran in the second brace and is owned by Jim Gingrich from Winnebago, IL and handled by son Brian Gingrich. What a great event for these two having winners in both stakes. Burr Oak’s Born Again ran a nice forward race and was consistent throughout the 30 minutes. Toby showed good independence, and both hunted well and stretched when needed.

Second place was awarded to Red Headed Flying Dutchman and ran in the third brace of the day. Dutch was also handled by pro Brian Gingrich and is owned by Matt Roesner from Omaha, Nebraska. Matt is relatively new to the sport and was able to attend the event and watch his young dog compete. Dutch ran a good race but was not as consistent and forward as the winner.

Third place went to BGK’s Sako Finnfire and was handled by his owner Jarrett Bell and scouted by wife Allison of Troy, Missouri. Sako also young had a nice run but lacked the consistency of our winner but showed good promise for the future and was awarded third place

Amateur Championship


Winner Kick Em Up Kimber 

Runner Up BGK White Lightning 

Bottom Row - Allison Bell and Natalie Howard

Top Row - Judge John Small, Chad Chadwell, Jamie Fountain, Jarrett Bell, Judge Dennis Sullivan, Justin Hess

The Amateur Quail Championship started on Tuesday to more beautiful weather but unfortunately the final braces the second day were delayed due to a rain storm that moved through the area. Our judges for this championship were again Jon Small of Missouri and longtime Brittany man Denny Sullivan of Illinois. Their time in the saddle and with the bad weather was greatly appreciated and their decision was well respected.

Numbers for the Amateur Championship were down this year and we had 18 dogs entered and 17 that came to the line. Kick Em Up Kimber was crowed winner and it was a repeat for this great dog in the twilight of her career. Kimber was handled by owner Jarrett Bell and again scouted by wife Allison. What a tremendous event for the Bells having placed dogs in all three stakes. Kick Em Up Kimber ran in the final brace of the stake as a bye dog after her brace mate scratched. Kimber was loosed across the road from the plant and had a find at 6 minutes. She went on to have three more finds, the second near the corner of the olive grove, third was found standing on the left edge of bean field off the new duck pond, and fourth she went on and cast to the far-left edge of the other olive stand near the road crossing and carded a covey find with all in order. Kimber crossed the road and finished out to the front.

Runner up was BGK’s White Lightening or “Smudge” and after coming off his win in the Open Championship laid down another nice run to put her in the placements in the Amateur. Smudge as stated before is also owned and handled by the Bell’s. Smudge ran in brace number 7 and was braced with Burr Oak’s Bam Bam. Smudge broke away nicely making some nice casts and had her first find in the corner of the orchard. Smudge carded a second find before the road crossing, as well as, Bam Bam who carded a find in nearby area. Smudge had a third find, a small covey, after the third road crossing with Bam Bam backing. After working the right wedge down the far field Smudge pointed again and Bam Bam backed with all in good order. They were both taken on and with one-minute left at 59 Smudge was found standing with Bam Bam again backing. This was his fifth find of the hour. This was the 14th year for this event and 11th for the National Quail Championships. It is great to see this event in addition to all the NVA Championships continue to grow and create history for this breed. We look forward to a bright future and hope to see everyone next year in late October early November for next year’s event at Pyramid State Park.