Well, the Swami was on again, correctly picking Marc Alvisi to walk away with both the Heavyweight and Overall crowns at the 2009 USA Championships (check out “The Experts” video wrap-up, and contest photos and results on the site). On a weekend where a record 467 competitors trekked across the Artemus Ham Auditorium stage on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the 5’8″, 216-pounder out of Del Ray Beach, Florida was selected by the judging panel as the best of the best after finishing fourth in the Heavyweight class a year ago.
With three pro cards given out for the first time in the men’s division, Grigori Atoyan (SHW) and Daryl Gee (MW) also earned a trip to the next level; Gee, the powerfully built 5’5″, 173-pounder, was coming off a big Overall victory at the LA the week before, giving him great momemtum going into ‘Vegas.
Tamer El-Guindy, who upset Branden Ray in the LHW class, was the most disappointed athlete on stage after hearing me call out the names of Atoyan and Gee after announcing Alvisi as the Overall champion. Still, Tamer was at his all-time best, and has to be thrilled with the package he brought to the stage; hopefully the Orange County, California resident won’t have to wait much longer to join Alvisi and the gang in the pro ranks.
My “Most Improved” award goes to Fred (Biggie) Smalls, the Delaware Dynamo who finished a powerful third to Alvisi and Lee Banks in the HW class. When another Delaware resident, Harry Jones, showed up at prejudging in the LHW class on Friday night, I had to inform IRON MAN photog Roland Balik he moved down to third in the battle for the state’s best built man; when Jones bailed at the Saturday night finals, I officially put Roland back into the runner-up slot. Abs or not.