It was a huge weekend for the Swami. First off, my pick to win it all, Al Auguste, couldn’t topple the 25-year-old freak, Jason Huh, for the Overall crown. But, he did win the Light-Heavyweight class (barely; read below), and finished first runner-up as Auguste, Heavyweight champ Vladimir Sizov and Middleweight winner Jason Joseph also earned the right to apply for pro status.
And, I did write on my Facebook page last week that, if I had a second pick for the Overall, it would be Huh, the 5’9”, 256-pounder out of Tampa, Florida. Additionally, when I did the prejudging wrap Friday night with Dave Palumbo and Sean Andros on RxMuscle.com, I argued with my two fellow commentators that Jason, not Al, now deserved the crown. As usual, I was right. The Swami crown remains stapled to my head. Check out the prejudging and finals wraps on Dave’s site and enjoy.
With a record number of competitors at the Jon Lindsay show totaling around 500 (530 registered), folks were worried that the shebang may run til midnight. With me at the mic (for the 18th year at the USA) ? What short memories some people have; last year’s contest, with 467 on stage, ended at 10:34. The 2009 Nationals, with 509 on the list, ended at 10:33.
So, the pressure was on. Aided, per usual, by a great backstage crew, I called out Joseph’s name as the third runner-up for pro status at 10:15! The bad news is, natch, that the bar has been set too high, and everyone will expect a 10 pm finish from here on out. Ain’t gonna happen, for two reasons: we moved the show as fast as humanly possible on Saturday night, and the contests will only get larger in the future. So, enjoy it while it lasted!
In addition to the above-mentioned gentlemen, other class winners included Luis Santa in the Welterweight division, Kelly Bautista in the Lightweight division and Jimmy Nguyen in the Bantamweight category. Santa, out of Colorado, repeated his victory in the same show a year ago, but was pushed to the limit by the guy I had taking the class—veteran Jesse Sabater, in his all-time greatest shape. Hey, Jesse lives in Oxnard, the home of IRON MAN Magazine, so I have to admit I’m a bit biased J.
Bautista, from Irvine, CA, fought off the challenge of New York’s Leonardo Pacheco to take the LW class, with local favorite Nguyen finally nabbing the BW division after several tries.
A special shout out to Pistol Pete Ciccone. The 40-year-old from San Diego, fifth a year ago, pushed Auguste to the limit. As a matter of fact, it was only Pete and Al in the final posedown on Friday night. In the end, Ciccone was on the short end by but a single digit! Great job, Pistol, you came out firing with both barrels.
That’s all for now; it’s Sunday at 7:20 pm and I’m gassed! Check out Roland Balik’s photos on the site and make your own observations regarding the accuracy of the judges. I think they did a helluva job in the men and women’s shows. Sure, I may not have agreed with every decision, but the winner’s were all outstanding. And, several of the classes went down to the wire.