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Priest Blessed With a Total Package
Semsch Talent, So Little Time
Changes Afoot

Texas titan Bonnie Priest looked absolutely fabulous?and flawless–on her way to dominating the ?03 NPC USA Women?s Bodybuilding Championships on July 26 and earning a chance to pump up in the pros.

Reported August 4, 2003

’03 NPC USA Women’s Bodybuilding Championships
Priest Blessed With a Total Package

LAS VEGAS’Texas titan Bonnie Priest looked absolutely fabulous’and flawless–on her way to dominating the ’03 NPC USA Women’s Bodybuilding Championships on July 26 and earning a chance to pump up in the pros. The 159-pound heavyweight from San Angelo and her totally balanced, superlatively conditioned body scored ones across the board for a unanimous class win, then beat lightweight winner Emery Miller and middleweight Maya Stone for the overall title.

The USA is living proof that women’s amateur bodybuilding is still working it’and that the biggest, most cut gal in the lineup doesn’t get the pro card these days. Fifty-two female flexers from across the country hit Sin City this time out, and the high quality of their physiques made tough work for the judges in every class.

There were plenty of nifty surprises onstage, and the way the women were performing vertical leaps, you’d almost have thought it was a fitness contest. That’s not a reference to the splits performed by Colette Nelson in her posing routine or Lindsay Mulinazzi’s strength move but, rather, to the way athletes were leaping out of the not-ready-for-prime-time ranks to win their class. Priest, who was seventh at the ’02 Nationals is a key example. Her conditioning and superior balance turned two-time defending heavyweight champ Nelson into an also-ran.

Annie Rivieccio, third; Lora Ottenad, another former winner, fourth; and Heather Policky, fifth, were all just a point apart’and breathing down Nelson’s neck. Front-runner Ally Miesche-Nie, second at the Nationals last year, came in far too smooth and landed in eighth. Look for Policky, who added shape and refinement to the extreme muscularity she displayed at the ’02 USA, to do even better in future outings.

Stone, seventh heavyweight at the ’02 USA, leaped over Maribeth Rossi, fifth; Debbie Bramwell, fourth; Elena Seiple, third; and Heather Hulseberg, second, for a unanimous win in the middleweights (after the high and low scores were tossed out). The symmetrical, full-but-not-ultracut 132-pounder from Bowling Green, Ohio warmed up for this victory a couple weeks earlier at the Bodyrock Championships, where she nabbed heavyweight and overall honors.

Lightweight champ Miller got some practice in the winner’s circle at the Cal, in May, where she took the middleweights. A much tighter presentation brought her attractive-116 pounds of symmetry and hard muscle just two second-place votes, which were tossed to leave her with a perfect score. Physique veteran Mulinazzi, last seen doing pushups in the fitness arena, returned to national-level bodybuilding with a spectacular runner-up performance, with Jamie Troxel landing in third; Pam Shealy taking fourth and Tricia Travis finishing fifth.

For a peek at all the perfect packages that were onstage at the USA, go to the contest gallery‘and look for many of the above to be hitting the pro card trail at the Nationals in November.

’03 NPC USA Fitness Championships
Semsch Talent, So Little Time

LAS VEGAS’Competitor numbers were down a little from 2002, but there was hardly a bad routine in the bunch at the ’03 NPC USA Fitness Championships on July 26. The big winner was Angela Semsch, a just-buff-enough brunette from St. Louis, Missouri, who’s been climbing toward the top of the mountain the past couple of years. Third at the USA and Nationals last year, Semsch did handstand pushups and brought her 5’3 1/2″ physique in just so to win the medium class with perfect fives in both physique rounds. In the comparisons for the overall, against short-class winner Kasey Watts and top tall gal Lea Waide, she got ’em on symmetry and proportion. All three women earned pro cards, along with their respective runners-up’Theil Bradford (short), Sandy Grant (medium) and Kirsten Nicewarner (tall).

In the short class Bradford was a knockout, winning both physique rounds, but Watts won the routines and was second in the body rounds to take the first-place trophy. Nita Wilson-Marquez made her best showing to date, landing in third eight months after the birth of her third child.

Medium-class third-placer Teri Mooney had the best routine in her division’not so surprising for the high-kicker from Jersey’and also managed a balanced, personal-best physique presentation that made her a good bet to earn a pro card at the Team Universe on August 9.

The tall class had the strongest collection of routines. Waide, whose dramatic dance-oriented performances have been pleasing NPC judges for several years, was only a point ahead of one-time “Soul Train” dancer Luciana Bell, who brought her own best-ever body to finish third overall.

Click here for IRONMAN’s complete USA Fitness gallery.

Changes Afoot

The word from the folks who promotes the shows at the NPC is that it’s time to stem the tide of fitness and figure competitors crashing into the pro ranks. In other words, this is the last year that the top two in each fitness class at the USA and Nationals will be getting pro cards’or the top three per class at the Figure Nationals. Just exactly how many pro cards they’ll be giving will be made clear when the schedule for 2004 is official.

Other farewells for ’03. This is the last year for fitness at the Team Universe. Next season competition for pro cards in fitness takes place at the USA and Nationals only.

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