Well, the first NPC AmiLean West Coast Classic is in the books, and I gotta tell ya, it was more successful that even I had hoped. Nearly 150 contestants signed up to hit the stage at El Monte High School on Saturday (141, plus 65 crossovers, ended up competing), with over 1,100 people in the audience for the prejudging and finals.
Eli Blahut, a former “Rising Star” in my News and Views” column earlier in the year, made it two huge weekends in a row. The 5’5”, 180-pounder, who moved from back East to Venice, CA in February, won the Middleweight class at the Junior Nationals in Chicago the previous week before moving up to the Light Heavyweight class at my show and ending up not only with the division crown, but with the Overall title as well.
The 22-year-old beat a tough field en route to both his class and Overall crowns; Blahut bested Robert Farrow (Masters 40+ champion) to win the LHW class, then toppled SHW champion Rowdy Rusconi (2009 TOC Overall winner). Mohsen Ghorannevis (HW), Mike Gustavsson (MW), Nhon Ly (LW) and Dave Vito (BW) for the Overall.
In the women’s division, Riverside, CA’s Brenda Beitia took the Bodybuilding crown, while Darice Castro of Phoenix, AZ won the Overall in Figure, following up her victory in class “A”. Castro, who works with IFBB pro Felicia Romero, was one of a large contingent to come in from Arizona to compete; she’s now targeting the Team Universe in less than three weeks in hopes of getting a pro card.
Local star Khay Rosemond, the 5’0”, 95-pound dynamo from San Pedro, CA, followed up her Overall victory in Bikini at the Orange County Muscle Classic to take class “A” (in a great battle with Jennifer Dominguez) to win the Overall crown at the WCC.
Rafael Begluyan, a student at Pasadena City College who is trained by pro star Grigori Atoyan, also had a big night; Rafael won both the Novice Overall and the Collegiate division titles.
Top NPC competitor PD Devers opened the show with a guest posing exhibition, and Asia Monet Ray, daughter of Shawn Ray, and Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler also performed. If you watch the video at npcwestcoast.com (where complete contest results and a huge file of contest photos appear) , you can see the amazing Asia do her thing; as I say, she’s 4 going on 14, and a future Olympian.
Cutler, of course, was a huge hit; I announced on stage that Jay will win Sandow number four in September. Agree?
Brian Whelan, owner of Foothill Gym in Monrovia, CA, won the “Hans Hopstaken Most Inspirational Bodybuilder” award in honor of the former pro who passed away in 2002. Brian’s wife, Jennifer, won the Masters 35+ Figure Overall to make it a grand night for the Whelan’s as well; Brian was top four in two class, unlimited Heavyweight and Masters 40+. And blind contestant Austin Beaumont received the “Spirit” award for his courage in competing for the first time at age 50.
Phew…I’m still exhausted at noon on Monday. But, it’s a very happy “tired”, if you get my drift.
I’m out. Literally, and figuratively.
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