Well, a lot of folks are saying the latest version of my annual NPC Junior Cal Bodybuilding and Figure Championships was the best in the 10-year history of the event, if that opinion is at least partially based on the number of superstars who were inside Sexson Auditorium on the campus of Pasadena City College last Saturday, I have to agree with the assessment.
Of the 15 or so IFBB card holders at the shindig, three of them have accounted for 12–count ’em, 12–Olympia Gold medals. Featured guest poser Jay Cutler, natch, is the two-time defending Mr. Olympia. All-time record holder Lenda Murray, with eight Ms. Olympia titles on her resume, came to the show in support of client and Figure competitor Carlisa Semmons (third in Class A). Likewise, two-time Figure Olympia winner Jenny Lynn ventured all the way from Louisville, Kentucky to be there for her best friend, Amy Carr, who finished second in both the Class D and Masters 35 and up categories.
Flex Wheeler was in the house as part of the EFX crew, Co-Title Sponsors of the contest along with Bodybuilding.com. The Swami’s Houston Pro pick (July 4), Silvio Samuel was there. So was Quincy Taylor, who did the contest prep for Greg McCoy, an Oklahoma State University student who made the trip to Pasadena from Arlington, Texas. Of course, I could not miss on the opportunity.
One of Samuel’s opponents at the Houston show, Armand Scholz, surprised the bazeebers out of me when I saw him standing behind the curtain backstage at the finals. Was happily surprised to see current Figure International champ Gina Allioti at the event (especially since she was not judging). IFBB Figure star Tanji Johnson, better known now, perhaps, as “Stealth” on the “American Gladiators, drove down from northern California, where she recently moved, to greet the fans and hand out awards, as Jenny did.
Michael Ergas, Derik Farnsworth, Kristy Hawkins (who is just about finished with her Ph.D from neighboring Cal Tech), Amy Peters, June Munroe., Meritza DeGuzman. USA Lightweight champ Alex Azarian was there; so was Steve Kuclo who, like Peters and Munroe, flew in from Dallas to help me get through the day. And Marika (Da Freaka) Johansson was at PCC, too, helping hubby Kris Gethin, the Editor-in-Chief at Bodbuilding.com, work their table in the lobby. To top things off, Kris actually competed in the contest (after two years of badgering by guess who), and not only finished fourth in an extremely tough Novice Middleweight division (15 competitors) but picked up the “Best Poser” award at the end of the night.
It was special that John Balik, my boss at IRON MAN, came to the finals–and stayed all the way to the end of the contest, despite having an hour drive back home. Ruthless Ruth Silverman, who has been there every year for me to support my cause, missed her first one in a decade due to car problems. But, she called and wished me the best. I do appreciate the well wishes, Ruthless.
Merv Petralba, who hasn’t slept in two months since the birth of his daughter, was in the press area, shooting pics for this website, as he fought to stay awake. Guess my jokes didn’t do the trick. Other media members there: Allan Donnally of FLEX, Nga Azarian of MD, Hollywood Bert Perry of MuscleMag, and Mark Mason, who made the trek from Seattle, Washington to make his debut as contest videographer (check out my website at www.npcjuniorcal.com if interesed in ordering a copy of the show), were also in attendance.
Now, back to the contest itself. Had the second highest numbers in the history of the show (next to the 100 from last year), and the crowd was as big, if not the largest, ever. And, talk about a supportive group–the fans at PCC are always among the most vocal and appreciative of any contest I host around the country, pro or amateur. Give youself a hand, gang. It was heartwarming to see the crowd at the finals give Cutler a standing ovation as he took the stage for his guest posing stint just prior to intermission.
It was also perhaps the most highly contested event ever as well, with several placings in almost every class the topic of debate after the prejudging and finals. When all said and done Leo Delaine, who I first met when I emceed the NPC San Francisco last October, took the Light Heavyweight class and the Overall. Martha Ibarra won the Women’s Bodybuilding, and was also the choice of the judging panel to win “Best Poser” and “Most Inspirational”. Brianne Shaw captured the highly contested Figure Overall crown, and was also honored as the winner of the “Most Promising Figure” competitor, the award coming courtesy of Tight Curves. Thanks, Jimmy Mentis. Okay, now that I have your attention, you need to check out the results on the site (or on my website) to find out where the rest of the competiors finished, if you haven’t do so already.
Man, I’m exhausted. Been one of the longest weeks of my life, as it always is this time of the year. Remember, I also teach at both PCC and East Los Angeles College and–stupid me– don’t take any time off before the show to work on the final touches–or just plain rest a bit to gear up for the weekend.
But, can’t close down shop without listing the sponsors who make this whole thing a reality:
Title Sponsors: Bodybuilding.com and EFX.
Presenting Sponsors: JS Nitro and 619 Muscle. Co-sponsors: Labrada, Gaspari Nutrition, IRON MAN, Met-Rx, Vyotech, Max Muscle, Getbig, ABB, Cytosport, Met-Rx, MHP, Champion, Dream Tan, Flexstar, Gold’s Gym, Pasadena, ZsuZsi, Bazi, Musclelwerks, Pro Bodybuilding Weekly, ALR, Tight Curves, Dumbbellmania, BSN, Pro Fight Supplements and Hollywood Tans