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Friday Roundup—Pittsburgh to New York

The IFBB pro circuit for early spring hits two of my favorite cities, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a.k.a, the ’Burgh, a.k.a. my hometown, and New York, New York, which is the greatest city in the world, at least in my heart. I hope those who are heading to the Big Apple this weekend get the chance to enjoy it, along with the four pro physique competitions that’ll play out onstage at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, of course.

First, a word about the Pittsburgh Pro Figure and Bikini shows, which took place on May 1 at the Soldiers and Sailors Hall. In figure Heather Mae French looked good enough to take her second title of the year. The top-seeded quarter-turner in the 20-woman lineup—third at the ’10 Figure International, third at the ’09 Olympia—she nailed a perfect score, with Cheryl Brown and Gennifer Strobo nailing unanimous votes for second and third, respectively.

Marcy Porter landed in fourth, and Taylor Condren (formerly Gallagher) took fifth in her pro debut. Find the complete results at the end of this entry below.

In the Pittsburgh Pro Bikini battle, new sensation Nathalia Melo took no prisoners, easily tromping all over an excellent lineup of 14, including Sonia Gonzales, who won the first two IFBB pro bikini shows, and Jaime Baird. As all three were already qualified for the ’10 Olympia, the rule of the sliding Olympia qualification kicked in: Fourth-placer Tianna Ta is going to the big show in September. (Although the top three in figure were also already on the Olympia invite list, the rule did not kick in, as Porter was already qualified as well.)

Shelsea Montes rounded out the top five, and it’s worth noting that Sherlyn Roy moved up from 11th at the Show or Champions in Orlando, Florida, last month to sixth. The complete results are listed below.

Melo, who also swept the field in Orlando, and Gonzales are now tied at two wins apiece for the first-ever pro bikini season. As head judge Sandy Ranalli has been touting Nathalia as the ideal of what the organization is looking for in bikini, though, she could be tough to beat come Olympia time.

Now for tomorrow’s shows in New York, bodybuilding and bikini on the women’s side of the bill.

Continuing a theme: The 21 gals who have who have signed up to show their sassy sides are probably relived that Melo decided to give her bodyparts a rest and will not go for a trifecta. That said, they do have to worry about the gal I expected to be the bikini ideal before Nathalia hit the scene, ’09 USA champ Kristal Marshall, who’s making her pro debut. By now Kristal will have seen the callout videos from Pittsburgh and know just how sassy she needs to be. (The pro shows have seriously upped the ante in terms of projecting personality from the pro qualifiers of last summer.)

Other noted curved-bodies among the 18 projected contestants who could snag a top-three finish in New York include Jelena Abbou, who’s switching from figure, Missy Coles, Shelsea Montes, Alea Suarez and Tianna Ta. Another hot prospect who is making a noted switch to bikini and could make some noise is Alicia Marie.

In the women’s bodybuilding bash, Cathy Le Francois is gunning for her second consecutive title, but the recent list of 14 ladies planning to flex onstage in New York suggest that she might not have an easy time of it. Dayana Cadeau, Kristy Hawkins and Debbie Bramwell leap to mind first, plus a couple of wild cards for a top-three, Olympia-qualifying finish, Heather Foster and Colette Nelson, and the long-awaited pro debut of ’08 NPC National champ Sheila Bleck.

IRON MAN’s Roland Balik, a.k.a. the Great Rolando, will be on hand to capture all the action at the Tribeca, and he’s very excited about shooting his first pro bikini show.

Click for his photos of the women’s bodybuilding and bikini after the fun begins on May 8.

Meanwhile, here are the results from the ‘Burgh:

10 Pittsburgh Pro Figure
1) Heather Mae French
2) Cheryl Brown
3) Gennifer Strobo
4) Marcy Porter
5) Taylor Condren
6) Tivisay Briceno
7) Holly Beck
8) Karly Woodle
9) Christina Vargas
10) LaVonda Ezell
11) Ginette Delhaes
12) Angela Mraz
13) Ann Pratt
14) Ann Titone
15) Jennifer Woodruff
16) Melody Clere
16) Candice John
16) Jodie Minear
16) Shalmieno Paper
16) Sesa Tomuli

’10 Pittsburgh Pro Bikini
1) Nathalia Melo
2) Sonia Gonzales
3) Jaime Baird
4) Tianna Ta
5) Shelsea Montes
6) Sheryln Roy
7) Alea Suarez
8) Jennifer Dietrich
9) Khanh Nguyen
10) Kira Rivera
11) Kat Holmes
12) Jessica Lawrence
13) Janet Harding
14) Stefanie Lindsey

Photos: Heather Mae French (top) and Nathalia Melo in Pittsburgh.

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