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Mindi Smith: A New Star Shines in the Desert

Go figure. The law of pecking order did not prevail at the Phoenix Pro Figure Championship on February 20, where a rookie and a couple of gals who’ve never been to the Olympia beat the favorite. Earning a unanimous win and giving notice of serious force-to-be-reckoned-with potential was ’09 NPC National champ Mindi Smith, who looked—we’ll, there’s only one way to put it—darned hot in her pro debut.  Notching unanimous second- and third-place finishes, respectively, were Amy O’Neill and Rosa Maria Romero, both of whom displayed the kind of physique improvements that everyone talks about but not everyone achieves. Finishing fourth was Felicia Romero, ninth at the ’09 Figure O and last seen pulling down the biggest check at the Border States Pro Figure in October.

How could this happen? I hear you cry? And after you put money on the line in Vegas that Felicia would be the Romero being honored with at the very least a top-three finish.

For one thing, the judges like to surprise us every once in a while. For another, a perusal of the photos suggests that Felicia was not at the peak she displayed in the late-season contests last year, while Amy and Rosa Maria looked good enough to get some love, and Mindi looked, as I said, darned hot. And since both Felicia and Amy are Arizona gals, you can’t chalk anything up to the hometown-favorite factor.

Also making a notable pro debut in this 20-woman lineup was ’09 Junior National class winner Jodie Minear, who has a great structure and a lot of depth to her physique. The panel worked the top five fairly hard at the end of each round, comparing them myriad ways and ending the judging with Felicia in the center for the last set of turns, suggesting that 1) opinions were close even though the placings were all unanimous, and 2) they faked us out just a little.

Speaking of people with great structure, another notable debut was former Team Universe top flexer Debbie Patton, who made her first foray into figure at this show. She didn’t make the cut—still too much muscle, according to reports—but it’ll be interesting to follow the efforts of  the latest so-called smaller, symmetrical female bodybuilder to switch to figure.

Here are the complete results:

’10 Phoenix Pro Figure

1) Mindi Smith*
2) Amy O’Neil*
3) Rosa Maria Romero*
4) Felicia Romero
5) Jodie Minear
6) Angela Terlesky
7) Listy Allen
8) Linda Fodor
9) Crystal Chiles
10) Sabrina Gibson

11) Taylor Waldrop

12) Mendi Sakamoto
13) Ann Titone
14) Jaime Meade
15) Kathleen Tesori
16) Karen Mullarkey
17) Monica Mark-Escalante
18) Lynn Cimmino
18) Lydia Haskell
18) Jennifer Herdandez
18) Debbie Patton
18) Tina White
18) Chaundra Tanji
*Qualifies for the ’10 Figure Olympia.

From left: Rosa Maria Romero, Mindi Smith and Amy O’Neill.

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