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Natural Ohio USA, Faith Wheeler, Keystone Grounded

blt-dsc_0357.jpgMade it back from the long weekend in Cleveland and, I must say, the tag team promotional duo of Dave Liberman and Todd Pember are doing their best to imitate their fellow Ohio producers, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Lorimer.Dave and Todd’s NPC Natural Ohio (open) Drug-Tested Bodybuilding & Figure Championships was already a huge success, and the event really blew up at Lakewood High School on April 5, with a record 158 competitors (NOT counting crossovers) and well over 1,200 in the seats at the finals. The prejudging was also huge, with about 800 fans in attendance. Mr. O Jay Cutler guest posed and brought down the house as always; Cutler is great with the fans and most of the house stuck around to see the 5’9″, 285-pounder do his thing. Jay also gave a seminar after the prejudging, while I was eating my juicy bacon cheesebuger at an eatery by the host hotel. Am sure he told them not to eat the way I do if they want a great bod.Shoot, I couldn’t even complain about the weather this trip; it was around 60 degrees, no snow or rain–basically the same elements I was missing out on in Los Angeles. Now, if I can just get a lot of the competitors, naturally mostly from the Ohio and Michigan area’s, to change their four syllable last names to Smith or Jones. Makes life a lot easier on an emcee!Israel OcasioSue Knottblt2-susanball.jpg

Congrats to Men’s Overall winner Israel Ocasio, who proved a Welterweight can be a Heavyweight when it comes to powerful showings on stage, Susan Ball, a 48-year-old mother of three who took the Women’s Bodybuilding division, and Sleek Sue Knott, who bested an oustanding Figure field in the C division en route to the Overall crown.Liberman and Pember, who give out more awards at their show than the Academy does each February, did a nice thing by honoring State Chairman Rick Bayardi. Tricky Ricky underwent six–count ’em, six–bypasses in November, yet was back at his post at both the Arnold Amateur five weeks earlier. Once again, he did a great job as Chairman for this one as did Gary Udit, the Head Judge.Great show overall; thumbs up to Liberman and Pember for yet another terrific job.Got my usual buzz in my pocket on the trip; Isaac Hinds and his Muscle Phone let me know that Flex and Madeline Wheeler became proud parents again, this time to Faith Pearl, who was born on April 3–at least six weeks before the anticipated due date. But, according to Shawn Ray, who I talked to this morning, mother and baby are doing well. Speaking of babies, Shawn and Kristi are expecting their second daughter at the end of the month.blt3-dsc_0010.jpg

Hinds also buzzed me, literally, to let me know the Keystone Classic, set for June 21, has been cancelled. The Pennsylvania pro show made it’s debut last year. Hey, we already have two great events on that day–the Junior Nationals and, of course, my Junior Cal, so bodybuilding fans, no need to fret. And, yes, Cutler will be back as my featured guest star. Check out my site at for updates.Next on tap for me is the North Carolina State Championships, held in Greensboro on April 19. Haven’t hosted the Mike and Pat Valentino production since 2004 (I emceed the Ronnie Coleman Classic the past three years), so it will be fun to see them again. And, the quality of competitors at this event is always first rate.On the sujbect of babies, congrats to IRON MAN’s Merv Petralba and wife Patricia on the birth of their first child, Trinity Drew, at 12:05 am. The little one weighed in at six pounds, eight ounces.Over, under and out.blt3-dsc_0361.jpg

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