Sherman teen wins best junior handler at Westminster Dog Show

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SHERMAN -

A western Connecticut teenager is back home after winning the Best Junior Showmanship title at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City.

Lily Mancini, 18, and her dog Liam beat out more than 90 other junior competitors. The win includes a $10,000 scholarship prize.

She began competing in dog shows at age 9, learning from the mother of her sister's boyfriend who was looking for help with her kennel.

"I never had a dog growing up at all, so it was totally a new thing for me, but I just loved being around them," she says. "They make such a big difference in my life."

She's now shown at least 10 dogs during her time as a junior handler.

Liam not only helped Mancini win best junior handler, but the 8-year-old English springer spaniel also won best of breed and went on to compete in the sporting group at Westminster.

"He's really an outgoing dog, and he's the sweetest," says Mancini, whose win came just a few days before her 18th birthday.

Although she'll be off to college next year, Mancini says she hopes to continue competing in the older age groups but isn't sure how much time she'll have once she starts school.

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