February 25, 2002 Report
COLUMBUS, Ohio’Jay Cutler, coming off a spectacular second-place finish to defending champion Ronnie Coleman at the ’01 Mr. Olympia, proved that presentation was no fluke as he scored a unanimous victory at the ’02 Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, held Saturday, February 23, at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. For his conquest, Cutler won the grand prize of $100,000 and a brand new Hummer, valued at $70,000.
The 28-year-old from Aliso Viejo, California, carried a massive 270 pounds on his 5’9′ frame to score straight ones in all four rounds of the competition. Chris Cormier, who recorded his fourth consecutive victory at the IRONMAN Pro Invitational a week earlier, was the solid pick for second by the judging panel, as he notched second-place votes across the board. The 34-year-old Cormier, at 5’11’ and 255 pounds, looked very good but was overpowered in the thickness department by Cutler, who was two inches shorter and 15 pounds heavier than Cormier.
Dexter Jackson and Lee Priest, both appearing in prime-time condition, landed in the third and fourth slots, respectively. Jackson, a 5’6 1/2′ 215-pounder from Florida who had placed fifth in the last two Classics, finished 24 points ahead of Priest to unanimously pick up third-place honors. The 5’5′, 207-pound Priest bested two-time Arnold Classic winner Kevin Levrone with a strong fourth-place finish. Like Jackson, Priest had his best ever showing in Columbus, moving up three slots from a seventh-place landing in 1997.
Levrone looked much fuller than when he took third at the ’01 Mr. Olympia but was way off from top form and was fortunate to finish in the top five. To redeem himself, Levrone has added his name to the lineup for the San Francisco Pro, which takes place this weekend and features a star-powered field of Cormier, Jackson, Priest and many other stars who flexed in Columbus.
If I had a vote, the fifth-place slot in Ohio would have been filled by Ahmad Haidar, the 5’7′, 215-pound former World Amateur Champion, who might have been the best conditioned athlete in the 15-man lineup. Haidar, who missed qualifying for the Olympia at the IRONMAN by a single point, again finished one position away from a qualifying berth. However, since Cutler, Cormier, Jackson and Levrone are already eligible for the 2002 showdown, Haidar’s name could possibly be added to the list.
Like Levrone, Dennis James was also too heavy, and his seventh-place landing, albeit disappointing for the guy who finished third at the ASC a year ago, was deserved. The Taylors’Ernie and Quincy’were both in better condition than Levrone and James and placed eighth and ninth, respectively. Former Classic winner Nasser El Sonbaty rounded out the top 10.
For a look at all the action in Columbus, check out the Arnold Classic photo gallery in this Web site.