An e-mail I received this morning from a good friend who shall remain nameless regarding the California State Pro Figure competition, which was held yesterday, May 29, went as follows:
“What a surprise that Heather May French won (wink, wink).… I just feel that the quality of figure isn’t what it used to be compared to the days of Davana, Medina, Chistina Pomponio Pate, etc.”
My response: Well, yeah, but who was gonna beat her?
I’m not getting into it about Davana et al., but Heather Mae, who won her third straight pro figure show in a row—and second-in-a-row California Pro title—last night at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, is a genuine figure total package. She’s a beautiful woman, she has a tight little body, she knows how to present and she hits it, conditionwise, every time. One highly placed athlete who was present but had not seen the judging asked what I thought; she’d heard the girls were “harder than at the Arnold.” After admitting that I hadn’t been to the Arnold—and that I’d been so distracted trying to figure out how I’d screwed up my camera setting that I hadn’t actually looked at what I was shooting the judging, I told her this: The women have pretty much been this “hard,” within a range, for some time. The perception that they were softer at the Arnold, a.k.a. the Figure International, in Columbus, Ohio, in early March may have been based on the fact that a “softer” competitor, Nicole Wilkins Lee, won. Heather was third at that one as well as at the ’09 Olympia; and someone would have had to have brought something pretty amazing to have beaten her in Cali.
Prospective recruits for the upcoming summer shows take note: Heather Mae is calling it a day until the Olympia.
Not that talent didn’t get noticed in the 19-woman lineup, which included Meriza Deguzman, Rosa Maria Romero and Canada’s Christina Mehling. In fact, the second and third spots went to a couple of gals who are thrilled to be making their Olympia debuts in September.
Katina Maistrellis was a class winner at the ’08 Nationals. Seventh in her pro debut at the ’09 Europa Super Show and fifth at the ’09 Houston Pro, she eased into the runner-up spot at the Cal with “better balance, better stage presence and more confidence,” by the former competitive swimmer’s own assessment.
The third-place check and Figure Olympia qualification went to Carin Hawkins. Eighth last year at this show as well as at the ’09 Sacramento Pro, Carin, like Katina, has been focusing on making her legs fuller. It seems to be working.
As for Meriza, she landed in fourth, with Michelle Mayberry tickled pink to round out the top five, her finest figure finish ever.
Next up on the pro figure circuit, the Europa Battle of Champions in Hartford, Connecticut on July 23 and 24.
Photo: California top five (from left): Meriza Deguzman, Katina Maistrellis, Heather Mae French, Carin Hawkins and Michelle Mayberry.
Here are the complete results from Culver City:
’09 California State Pro Figure
1) Heather Mae French*
2) Katina Maistrellis*
3) Carin Hawkins*
4) Meriza DeGuzman
5) Michele Mayberry
6) Christina Mehling
7) Jennifer DeJoya
8) Rosa-Maria Romero
9) Angela Terlesky
10) Masae Tagami
11) Georgina Lona
12) Valerie Ganji
13) Raechelle Chase
14) Jessica Wright
15) Susan Salazar
16) Thais Cabrices-Werner
17) Zaneta Ksiazek
18) Candice Houston
19) Ginette Delhaes
* Qualifies for the ’10 Figure Olympia.