Field Trial Judges

Jake Fredericks, St. Petersburg, FL (Field Trial - Open)

Headshot of Jake Fredericks

Jake Fredericks joined the sporting dog community almost 10 years ago with his first working Labrador Retriever, Tempy. Together, they have earned Field Champion and Amateur Field Champion titles and he has qualified her for five National Amateur Retriever Championships. Jake is a past president of the Jacksonville Retriever Club, has chaired local trials, and volunteered with many Nationals and local trials. Since 2017, Jake has been judging AKC Retriever Field Trials, from Minor Stakes to Opens. He and his wife, Xan, enjoy the camaraderie of the sport and training their dogs as often as work permits.  

Martha "Marty" Kress, Greensboro, AL (Field Trial - Open)

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My journey began in 1998 (really, it began when I was a child growing up with animals). Our sons were out on their own, my husband Dave and I needed an activity to do together, and we had just lost a wonderful retriever because we had not done the proper training. Since we always had retrievers, it was natural to update our skills. Little did we know it would change our lives and become our passion.

Today we no longer have the Labrador Retrievers we started with, but we do have six loving labs. We have campaigned from coast-to-coast, border-to-border (and across the border), and I’m happy to say we have enjoyed the hospitality and company of the good people across the USA (and Canada) and have made lasting friendships throughout.

With numerous Field Trial and Hunt Test judging assignments and two Hunt Test Nationals under my belt, I have a lot of experience to offer. I am looking forward to this October event: October in Florida should be great.

I am honored to be asked to judge the Open for the Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty and look forward to judging with Jake Fredericks – he is a good guy who knows good dog work.

Teams with good communication, enthusiasm, yet control, are what I like to see. I highly recognize a dog with courage and desire. Train hard, qualify your teams and enjoy the National. I know I will. I plan to do the best possible job as one of your 2021 judges. Thank you for the privilege and the honor of being selected. Let’s make new and lasting friendships, enjoy the event and meet the challenges put before us with courage, grace and laughter in 2021.

Last but not least, a great big thanks to Dave, my awesome husband, for all his encouragement and support.  

Dave Kress, Greensboro, AL (Field Trial - Amateur)

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It is a wonderful honor to be asked to be a Field Trial judge at the Golden Retriever Club of America’s National Specialty this year. I’ll look forward to seeing these dynamic retrievers showcase their talents in the field.

I cannot remember a time in my life without a trained retriever, some were better than others and yes training techniques and skillsets have evolved. It is such a pleasure to watch these dogs work in the field and display natural and trained talents then go home to be wonderful companions and friends.

After a long and prosperous career in the construction field I was able to retire and devote myself to the wife, our training properties and our retrievers. Each person defines success with their dogs in a different manner. My definition is a good day of training or competition where we tried our best, our training held up and we had a good kick at the can. I firmly believe our dogs know when they did well and there’s nothing better than those eyes shining bright and that extra bounce in the step.

Our retriever odyssey is a family affair meaning my wife Marty is by my side for training and competitions. We each have our own retrievers to work and while our styles and philosophies may differ, we can celebrate the successes and commiserate the failures. It’s truly a team effort. Our travels have taken us coast-to-coast and throughout Canada as we‘ve competed and judged at numerous retriever events.

So as we approach the event I will endeavor to present fair and challenging series and may your marks be pinned and your blinds lined. Good luck and hope to see you there.  

John Stracka, Verona, WI (Field Trial - Amateur)

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Throughout the past 20 years John Stracka has made material contributions that have been at the core of the administration and development of the retriever field sport. John has been contributing to our retriever field sport through the administration of Retriever News, Entry Express, local clubs, national championship clubs, and canine health awareness through publications and fund raising as liaison to AKC Canine Health Foundation.

As a regular field trial competitor he has accumulated over 400 points as an amateur and his dogs have earned over 700 points. Since 2007, John qualified dogs for 13 consecutive years for the National Amateur Championship, reaching a total of 28 National Amateur Retriever Club qualifiers. John has qualified as many as four dogs in a single year for the National Amateur Championship and had two dogs finish the same National twice in each of 2014 NARC and 2015 NRC - a total of 13 finalists in National Championships.

John trains with his dogs full time in Wisconsin and Georgia where he maintains retriever training grounds.  

Tom Hawley, Meigs, GA (Field Trial - Qualifying)

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It's an honor to have been selected to judge a stake at the Golden Specialty this year. I have worked at several nationals through the years and I understand all the hard work, planning and preparation that goes on behind the scenes "to pull it off." Thanks to the field trial committee and workers that are so diligent and work tirelessly to help us in the field.

I have been training and handling Labradors since the early 1980's and have been fortunate to compete and judge trials across the US and Canada, even to judging a Canadian national in 2010. I started judging in the mid '80's and still continue to find judging major and minor stakes very rewarding. I sincerely hope that my co-judge and I will set up fair and challenging qualifying tests to showcase the marking ability, style, talent and teamwork of handler and dog. Most of all, good luck to all the participants and remember these fine Golden Retrievers give us their all so just go out and have a good time and enjoy competing with these outstanding dogs.  

Missy Lemoi, Easton, PA (Field Trial - Qualifying)

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I became enamored with the hunt test game in 1992 after I was invited to watch a local hunt test. I mistakenly ended up at the Master stake and was completely in awe watching the dogs perform. After watching Master for about two hours, I found my way to a Junior stake and found that much easier to understand! I told my friend who had invited me to watch that I didn’t quite understand everything I had seen, but I knew I wanted to learn the game. My first training session was with a well-known amateur named John Cavanaugh and one of the grand dames of the Golden world…Leslie Dickerson. They helped me train my first competition dog, a Yellow Lab, to the Master level.

As I gained experience, I continued to train my own dogs to the Master level in hunt tests, then successfully competed in Qualifying stakes at field trials, and finally moved into the All-Age stakes at the trials. Both Leslie and John taught me the importance of giving back to the sport. I have a strong conviction that everyone needs to do his or her fair share to help others learn and to support the clubs who hold performance events for our retrievers.

I have held just about every position available on both hunt test and field trial committees. I have judged all levels of competition in both games. Since I have always trained my own dogs, I believe in helping other amateurs who want to learn how to train their dogs to compete in field events.

I started my own boarding kennel and dog obedience school in 2005. Since then, I find I don’t have as much time as I need to train for field trials. I have a wonderful group of close friends with whom I train regularly for hunt tests. I enjoy campaigning my two current Labs at the Master level and work each year toward qualifying for both the Master National and the Master Amateur Invitational.

Any weekend I am competing, you will find me near the line watching the dogs run. Even after 25 years of competing, I still love watching retrievers do what they were bred to do! I enjoy the camaraderie that exists among competitors and consider myself fortunate to have so many friends in the field game. I am proud I was asked to judge the American Chesapeake Club Specialty in 2005, and I am honored to be judging at the Golden Retriever Club Specialty in 2021.  

Duncan Christie, Pinetta, FL (Field Trial - Derby)

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I ran my first AKC Licensed Derby in 1977 with “Splashdown Bold Joshua,” one of the last Bonnie Brooks Elmer sons. After training two Goldens for AKC field trials, I started training my first Labrador in 1993 and titled four of them. I have qualified dogs for 10 National Amateurs and two National Opens, including “FC AFC Son of a Preacher Man”, finalist, 2012 National Amateur in Onaway, Mich.

I’ve judged 30+ AKC All-Age Stakes and 30+ minor stakes and have judged two previous GRCA Specialties. I served on the National Amateur Retriever Club Board of Directors from 2007 to 2012 and was President, NARC, from 2011 to 2012.

I’m currently Secretary of the Snowbird Retriever Club and was formerly an officer of the Colonial Retriever Field Trial Club and the Yankee Golden Retriever Club.  

Sue Westlake, Madison, GA (Field Trial - Derby)

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Since 1977 when I joined the Maine Retriever Trial Club, I've known what a thrill it is to stand beside a talented dog. Over the years I've done some breeding and a lot of training and learned something new with each dog I've owned.

I have been a field trial judge since the 1980s and continue to compete regularly. I'm very pleased to have two young dogs now who are showing a lot of promise: Hacker and Finder. After we retired, my husband and I moved to Georgia to get away from the Maine winters. Now I can indulge my obsession all year long.