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Local Aftershock, USA Afterthoughts

It was a typical Tuesday in my second Health class of the morning at East Los Angeles College. Until the earthquake hit, that is. Then, you should have seen the teacher (as in me) and his 45 students going into the “Alarm Phase” of the General Adaption Syndrome. As in “Fight or Flight”. No fighting for me on this 5.4 tremor. As the rest of the class either froze or screamed, I dove right under my desk until the 15 second rumble ended. As one of the students said as we headed outside the classroom, “Man, what a leader we have.”

We stayed outside the building for about 15 minutes, and I explained how several aftershocks were likely to follow. But, not to worry, they probably wouldn’t be nearly as scary as the one we just experienced. For many of them, it was their first earthquake and they reacted accordingly. It was the seasoned intructor, who has been through a slew of them, who might have been shaken up the most. Okay, so I’m not as tough as I look. Dave Liberman called from his Mentor, Ohio residence to see if I was okay. Since I haven’t reponded to the call, just wanted Dave to know I’m never really okay, but am alive and well.

From aftershocks to USA afterthoughts:

Brandon Curry

*Brandon Curry was the right winner of the USA, but the 25-year-old now living in Oceanside, California definitely has to bring up his wheels to make a mark in the pro ranks. Hey, he’s a youngster, and is still growing. But, Michael Liberatore pushed Brandon to the limit, losing only by one point and forcing a “rejudging” at the finals. Thumbs up to both guys. This was the only class that didn’t bring a unanimous decision with it.

Curtis Bryant

*Curtis Bryant was the right pick for the second pro card…and would not have been a bad choice for the Overall, actually. And, Bryant wins my “Smartest Competitor of the Weekend” award since he took my advice to heart and dropped down to the Lightheavyweight class for the USA.

Ed Nunn

*Ed Nunn was not a surprise to me…Isaac Hinds picked him out of the line-up at the weigh-in at last season’s Nationals, and Merv taped me and Lifter interviewing the guy who eventually took fifth in the SHW class in Dallas. It was Isaac, in fact, who made sure the Swami mentioned Nunn as a leading candidate when I did my USA preview video last month.

*Nunn is now being talked about as the fave at the Nationals in November, but I think Ed should do the North American in Cleveland next month, where he would win his pro card if he shows up in similiar shape.

Branden Ray

*Branden Ray has been taking a lot of heat after finishing second to Bryant in the LHW class…three different fans have written and said Troy Tate should have been the proper pick for second. Hey, it’s not Branden’s fault he got a ton of pub from Muscular Development throughout the year, and has recently inked a contract with VPX. Yes, Ray has area’s of weakness to work on but, remember, it was only his third contest. Branden’s girl, Kristy Hawkins, told me in the gym today that Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler and Dave Palumbo are pushing Ray to compete in this year’s Nationals; I agree with Steve Blechman and say no way–you need the time to make those gains, Branden, and ain’t nobody gonna forget you if you don’t compete until 2009.

*Middleweight champ Nathan DeTracy might have been the best conditioned competitor in the whole show—yes, even more so than Liberatore, and that’s saying a mouthful.

Shavis Higa

*Welterweight winner Shavis Higa was the thickest guy in the contest as he made it a Trifecta with his third class win in Las Vegas. The Honolulu Lulu had previously won both the Bantamweight and Lightweight divisions.

*As always, “The Experts” were stunning in the post contest wrap up. Two great moments occurred (see video to really experience the feeling): first, when the medics brought in a bed I thought was labeled for Ron “Yogi” Avidan, and secondly when two-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler asked if he could join the team. Jay did a great job…thanks for teamming up with us, big guy.

Jamie Costa

*Hinds, as usual, was stunning in his pre-contest pub at with the inside look at who to watch out for in the figure competiton. Hinds featured Kristen Nunn, who only took 12th in her class at the Junior USA, and warned us all to keep an eye on her in Vegas despite the lowly finish in South Carolina. As you know by now, Nunn won the Class C class, and has moved on to the pro ranks.

*The Sunday morning photo shoots and interviews were the best part of the weekend, per usual. I got an exclusive with big Sean Allan, who took his 9th place finish fairly well and said he’s on his way to So Cal to live. The Experts did our Mr. Olympia preview by the pool, and all three of us had fallen asleep on the lounge chairs due to the excessive heat before Figure A winner Jamie Costa, who would heat up an igloo, walked by and got our immediate attention.

*Best paparazzi shot of the weekend: Yogi Avidan’s photo of me sharing (well, trying to share) a lounge chair with Nunn as the other five figure champions fought to get a better placement closer to the Swami. Hey, a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

I’m out.

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