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Florida Fillies Do Fine in Jacksonville

The ladies came out for Dexter Jackson last weekend, with 18 bikini contestants and a whopping 35 figure contender hitting the stage at his Jacksonville (Florida) Pro. That’s a particularly encouraging response in the bikini division, where the past couple of shows, the Europa Battle of Champions in Connecticut and the Pro Bodybuilding Weekly event in Tampa, also in Florida, attracted only 11 and 10, entrants, respectively. Maybe it was the date—a week before the popular Super Show and late enough in the season that they no longer have all the time in the world to qualify for the Olympia. Maybe it was the former Mr. O’s seductive smile. Whatever it was, they flocked to Jacksonville to get it—and more than a few gals who had t he goods had to go home empty-handed.

I have to admit, I didn’t see Candice Keene’s second-in-a-row victory coming. Not with the highly hyped pro debut of ’09 National Overall champ Ava Cowan on the bill, plus a talent-deep lineup that included Alicia Harris (always a contender as far as I’m concerned), Gennifer Strobo and bikini's shapely Stacy Thompson making her first foray into figure.

Fagedaboudit said the judges, who decided that Candy was dandy, granting her the win. The 28-year-old from Orlando, Florida, who turned pro at only her second show, the ’08 Nationals, has taken a season or so to find the balanced bod that would bring success on the next level. As of summer 2010, she has definitely nailed it. Her victory in Jacksonville should provide some hefty momentum for the 5’5” Keene if she goes into the Europa Super Show this coming weekend, where she’d face ’10 Phoenix Pro winner Mindi Smith and a lineup of 37. (Candice has said she’d be onstage at the Dallas event, but as of this morning her name wasn’t on the competitor list.)

Harris was second and Strobo took third at this top-three Olympia qualifier, leaving Cowan to languish in fourth and Thompson to round out the top five. Alicia and Ava are also headed to the Super Show, which is the last qualifier in before the Figure O on September 24. What are the odds that Ms. Cowan, who was reportedly not at her polished best in Jacksonville, makes the necessary improvements to earn an invite this weekend?

The Jacksonville Pro Bikini event was all Alison Rosen. The very recently crowned USA champ, who’s also from Orlando, wasted no time laying claim to the title of latest pro bikini sensation. Ali beat a smoking-hot lineup that included Jessica Putnam, the ’09 Jacksonville Pro Figure winner, in her bikini debut and Jaime Baird, who looked wonderful, again, but once again missed out on the top spot. They ended up just a point apart, in second and third, respectively, with Jessica Jessie landing in fourth and Dina Al-Sabah, in her second bikini show, moving up to fifth.

Rosen is headed for the Super Show Bikini competition, where she’ll pit her fabulous curves against the year’s very first new bikini sensation, Nathalia Melo. Now, there’s a matchup that could have a serious impact on my Olympia predictions.

Find the complete figure and bikini results from the Jacksonville Pro below.

Photos: Candice Keene (top) and Ali Rosen.

’1o Jacksonville Pro Figure
1) Candice Keene*
2) Alicia Harris*
3) Gennifer Strobo
4) Ava Cowan
5) Stacey Thompson
6) Josie Zamora
7) Katherynne Ramirez
8) Candice John
9) Ann Pratt
10) Lavonda Ezell
11) Teresa Anthony
12) Holly Beck
13) Kathleen Tesori
14) Elisha Archibold
15) Susanne Bock
16) Tivisay Briceno
16) Sue Upson
18) Taylor Condren
18) Kimmy Trowbridge
19) Vivian Alejandra
19) Nicole Coleman
19) Michelle Craven
19) Brandie Gardner
19) Jennifer Hernandez
19) Catherine Howard
19) Sara Hurrle
19) Ines Jimenez
19) Danielle Kifer
19) Petra Mertl
19) Jennifer Migliacci
19) Joanne Murphy
19) Emily Nicholson
19) Mikaila Soto
19) Rosalind Vanterpool
19) Christina Vargas
*Qualifies for the ’10 Figure Olympia

’10 Jacksonville Pro Bikini

1) Alison Rosen*
2) Jessica Putnam*
3) Jaime Baird*
4) Jessica Jessie
5) Dina AlSabah
6) Alea Suarez
7) Vanessa Campbell
8) Diana Fields
9) Juliana Danieli
10) Kat Holmes
11) Bianca Binno
12) Khang Nguyen
13) Michelle Adams
14) Janet Harding
15) Safiya Johnson
16) Dayna Maleton
17) Sonya Vecchiarelli
18) Amanda Marinell
*Qualifies for the ’10 Bikini Olympia

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