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Pro-nanza at the Team Universe

The marathon tribute to the power of sculpting your body with weights that is the Team Universe and National Fitness Championships went down in Jersey last weekend, July 6 and 7. Nearly 500 athletes hit the stage at the Teaneck Marriott with a total of 55 athletes turning pro in bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini and men’s and women’s physique, including masters over-35 and over-45 divisions in bodybuilding, figure and bikini. The bottom line: So many beautiful, shapely women of all sizes, so little time.

One clear standout in all of Team Universedom was Ashley Kaltwasser, a leggy brunette in a dark-green suit from Ohio who took the open bikini title with a cheerful smile and abs to burn—although I see from a photo profile that she was not always a brunette in a dark bikini. What a difference! Kaltwasser, in her early 20s, was dubbed the “World’s Hottest College Hurdler” by one Web site during her University of Akron track-and-field days. The judges dubbed her the hottest hurdler at the Team U.

The top two in each height class turned pro. In the bikini masters battles the judges liked Joyce Dabuet and Diana Harbort for the over-35 and over-45 titles—and pro cards—respectively.

Figure was the largest division, with 134 women in the open (vs. 115 in the open bikini). As with bikini, the top two in each figure class earned pro cards in the open, where C-class winner Rebecca Vera took the overall. Pro status also went to over-35 figure champ Rebecca Schubeck and over-45 titlist Debra Dunn. Good for Debra, who I first met at this contest more years ago than either of us wants to mention.

Women’s physique drew 44 athletes in three classes, with the top three in each class moving on to the pros. B-champ Lisa Lopez earned overall honors in that one.

Fitness overall victor Amber Leon push-uped and flipped over a lineup of 30. Glad to see so much talent among the six gals, including Amber, who graduated to the pros.

The lineup for women’s bodybuilding was short—but not for lack of talent. Heavyweight and overall winner Glenese Markes presented a pleasing and powerful package of mass and symmetry to outmuscle veteran top-five finisher Chris Sabo in the open. Gail Auerbach took the middleweights and outconditioned Sabo in the masters-over-35 contest to take the top honors there and earn a pro card. Bad news for Sabo, who looked good but can’t catch a break.

Another perennial top-five flexer, Michelle Brent, who’s been chasing pro status for 20-some years and has pretty much set a record in that respect, finally got her wish, earning the over-45 title.

Now for the annual note on why this show is called the Team Universe: The winners make up the U.S. teams for the IFBB World Amateur Championships, familiarly known as the Mr. and Ms. Universe. (Team for the Universe, get it?) The T.U. a drug-tested event for athletes who will go to the World Championships, which is also drug-tested. The NPC will send a team to the Women’s World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships, which is scheduled for Poland at the beginning of October.

Photos courtesy of (from top):

Ashley Kaltwasser

Rebecca Vera

Lisa Lopez

Amber Leon

The Universe team (from left) Twanna Milanich,lightweight winner; Genese Markes, heavyweight and overall; and Gail Auerback, middleweight and over-35 champ.

Find complete results and photos here:













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