As I said at the podium Saturday night, before announcing the Men’s Overall winner of the 2009 NPC Nationals, “Big Mac ain’t no hamburger…he’s prime time beef.” And, without a hitch, Cedric McMillian looked me in the eye and quipped, “I’m a Double Whopper.”
Hey, do we have a new, larger sized version of Cedric the Entertainer on the horizon? Funny line, big Ced. Now time to leave the wit to me; you just concentrate on taking that 6’1”, 255-pound physique of yours to the next level, where the Swami sez you can accomplish some great things.
The 32-year-old McMillan, based in South Carolina as an Army instructor teaching leadership courses, is an Iraq vet who blew up the field in Hollywood, Florida to dominate both the Super Heavyweight class and the battle for the Overall.
McMillan has beautiful shape, reminding some of the first ever NPC champion—and eight-time Mr. Olympia–Lee Haney. Great waist to shoulder taper, with the obligatory wide wing spread.
And, the best is yet to come. McMillan first competed in 2003; he won the 2008 Junior USA before snagging the Nationals title in his sixth show. I feel he can put on another 15-20 pounds, and bring to the pro stage a physique that will be, as we used to say with Haney, “large and in charge.” Already a top 10 Mr. Olympia candidate in 2010.
Overall, it was a deep Nationals line-up, perhaps having the most depth in several years. If anyone pushed McMillan to the Overall crown, it was Seth Feroce, who celebrated his 25th birthday with a unanimous victory in the Light Heavyweight class. Feroce, this season’s NPC Pittsburgh Overall winner, was stunningly improved over his condition in Pittsburgh. So, how good is the kid? Good enough, I say, to definitely finish in the top 5—maybe even top 3—at next year’s Olympia 202 Showdown. Get the picture?
Jeff Long scored perhaps the biggest upset of the weekend when he moved past favorites Lee (Take it to the) Banks and Fred (Biggie) Smalls in the Light Heavyweight division. Jeff always had the beef to be the chief, but was never in good enough condition to be a legit title contender on this level. The 213-pounder out of New Jersey wasn’t short on quality muscle this time around, and earns, along with all class winners on the evening, advancement to the pro stage.
Nathan DeTracy was the hardest competitor on stage at the 2008 USA; he was close to that in Florida as he romped to a unanimous win in the Middleweight class. Good thing Shavis Higa is a smart enough man to listen to me; I told him backstage at this season’s USA to go back down to the Welterweight division (after winning the BW, WW and MW at the USA in the past several years, Higa jumped to the MW class at the USA and finished third). Higa did exactly that. Well, barely; he weighed in at 168, and had to drop four pounds in the final weigh-in on Friday morning to squeeze into the division. But, when all was said and done, Shavis got exactly what I told him he would leave Florida with—a right to duke it out on the pro ranks. At 5’3, Higa can go about 175-180 and cause some headaches for his eventual 202 and under foes.
Congrats also to Lightweight champion Joe Vu, who got a break when my pre-contest selection, Leonardo Pacheco, was not able to meet the 154-pound limit and had to move up to the WW class. Still, don’t want to take anything away from Joe’s victory. So, here’s to you, Vu.
Another pre-contest selection was Bleu Taylor in the Bantamweight class; this time I was right on. The kid is good, glad to see folks like Higa and Taylor made me look like I know what I’m talking about now and then.
Now, how about the value/accuracy of my Rising Stars section at the end of the “News and Views” each issue of IRON MAN? Actually, Isaac “Hardbody” Hinds gets the full credit on this one; he told me about Jessica Anderson a couple of months back, sent me pictures and we both agreed she’d be a great addition to the department.
So, how does Jessica respond? By winning both class E and the Overall in the first ever Bikini Championships held at the Nationals. Good job, A& A (as in Anderson and Hardbody), if you missed the message.
Finally, on the subject of Rising Stars, three of the four honored in the January issue, just out now, had spectacular performances. Dr. Victor Prisk pushed Higa to the Welterweight title, Jami DeBernard (who won the C class at my 09 Junior Cal), finished fourth (out of 33) in Figure D, and Abby Marie Lindemann placed seventh in the C class in Bikini.
Whew…I’m exhausted. Four long days away from home (got in late Sunday night), a record 520 competitors to emcee which, by the way, I was able to finish in just a tad over four hours. Thanks to all the great help, per usual, from promoter Steve Karel’s backstage crew. Too many to name, you know who you are.
I’m hungry. I’m getting ready to get back to the classroom tonight at Pasadena Çity College, jet lagged or not.
So, for now, I’m OUT!
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