As the saying goes, records are made to be broken. And, that’s exactly what happened at the latest version of the NPC BMR West Coast Classic on Saturday at El Monte High School, as 175 competitors registered for the show (233 counting crossovers). The old mark was 140 (with 204 crossvers), set last year.
In addition to the high caliber athletes who stepped on stage, four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler, at a whopping 293 pounds, made his final guest posing appearance before concentrating fully on training for this season’s Olympia in September. Also treating the standing room only crowd to performances were Eli Blahut, last year’s WCC overall winner, and Asia Monet Ray, Shawn Ray’s five-year-old dance wunderkind. Asia also received the "MVP–Most Valuable Performer" plaque.
Congrats to overall winners Derek Duszynski (men’s bodybuilding), Shaka Smith (men’s physique), Miguel Rubio (novice men’s bodybuilding), Ashley Horner, (figure), and Michelle Tarajcak, (bikini). Cary Dinapoli captured the women’s bodybuilding crown.
Vida Guerra not only made her NPC debut, but the well-known Cuban model/singer/actress won both her class at the overall in the bikini 35+ division. Ruby Perey took to bikini 45+ overall title. In figure, Anne-Marie Swisher, all the way out from Virginia, won the overall in the 35+ category and finished second to Horner in the open overall balloting. Rosalind Gutierrez took the masters 45+ overall championship. Petros Vardevarian toppled the field in the men’s physique 35+ category.
Other champions included Nilav Bhadra (collegiate), Steven Roseren (teen), Rick Salazar (40+), Rocky Niehk (50+) and Jack (Elvis) Scow (60+). Chris Haynes, who was one of the NPC’s greatest bodybuilders in the 1980s as Chris Porter, has come out of a 25-year retirement to compete in figure; Chris won the masters 50+
Special thanks to all the sponsors, especially Binais Begovic, owner of BMR Nutrition, who came on board this year at title sponsor, and IRON MAN Magazine, once again presenting sponsor. John Balik, Publisher of IM, donated a one-year subcription to the magazine to all class winners.
Elena Viera, who competed in masters figure 45+ despite enduring several bouts of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer three weeks into her training, received the Hans Hopstaken "Most Inspirational" award from Brian Whelan, owner of Foothill Gym in Monrovia. Whelen, who competed in the show (his wife Jennifer won two classes in figure), took over the gym when Hopstaken passed away several years ago.
Stacy Cooper, who runs the "Stacey Cooper Fitness Bootycamp, Santa Barbara", was presented with the "Team Award" for having the most competitors in the contest with 11. It was quite a sight to see all 11team members file on stage to join Stacey and share in the celebration.
The contest was moved from the school auditorium to the boy’s gym when state inspectors weren’t able to get down to the school before the show to give official clearance for the new air conditioning that was installed several months earlier. Still, things turned out well, and the event was a major success.
Thumbs up to all who took part in the WCC. And, hope to see ya next year!