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Second to Nunn at Nationals

Just back from emceeing the Nationals in Atlanta, and it was a terrific show. A record 400 competitors showed up (Figure replaced Fitness, playing a part for higher than usual numbers), and I predict all three Overall winners—Ed Nunn, Shelia Bleck and Erin Stern–will do themselves proud in the pro ranks. Actually, many of those who earned pro status (all class winners are eligible to compete at the next level) should enjoy some level of success as professionals.

Easy Ed Nunn, a 6’1”, 241-pounder who combines plenty of beef with aesthetics, took the Superheavyweight class and the Overall, as I predicted. Okay, I didn’t predict it—Isaac Hinds, Yogi Avidan and Alex Azarian did—but I really did believe it was a Nunn deal at the Nationals after seeing Nunn’s sharp look at the USA. Where, by the way, he could have been crowned as the Overall champ without too much complaining.

But, I wanted to go against the grain, and took the longshot, Stephen Frazier. And, as Howie ( as in Cosell) said so well many years back, “Down goes Frazier….down goes Frazier.” My main man from Texas didn’t fill up his 6’1”, 237-pound frame enough, and was knocked out—not only by Easy Ed, but by six other class members as well. That means he took eighth, for those lacking in cerebral skills.

Nunn, out of Anderson, Indiana, dominated both this division and the other class winners as well en route to an easy victory. Congrats to Mike Liberatore (HW), Peter Putnam (LHW), Guy Cisterino (MW), Jocelyn Jean (WW), Marvin Ward (LW) and Scott Foster (BW) on their victories. Putnam also was honored by NPC President Jim Manion as the first winner of the “Heart of a Champion” award given in honor of Steve Stone, who died shockingly backstage while expediting the Women’s Prejudging at the Olympia.

I’ve felt Bleck should have turned pro years ago, but better late than never, eh Sheila? The 154-pounder, now living in Tampa, Florida, will make a great addition to the pro ranks. Kudos also to Rita Rae, who edged Tammy Patnode in the LW class, Diana Tinnelle, the MW champ, and Elena Seiple, who took the LHW division. Ray and Tinnelle were coming off class wins at the USA; Seiple has been a standout for years at the National level but just couldn’t get over the hump—until this weekend, that is.

Erin Stern, a 5’7 ½” heptathlete from Ocala, FL, won both the “F” division and Overall in Figure. Stern topped an outstanding group of class winners: Jenny Migliacci (A); Jennifer DeJoya (B), Candice Keene (C), Amy O’Neill (D) and Katina Maistrellis (E).

I met Jenny at last year’s Lone Star and we talked at the time about how she was getting better with each show. I’d say! And DeJoya, out of Los Angeles, first competed at my then Cal Collegiates (now Junior Cal) years back. Hinds first told me about O’Neill a couple of weeks back and we both agreed that she looked great in pictures, but…… there are no but’s about it, now.

Anyway, I’ll have more on the show down the road; look for “The Experts” wrap-up of the men’s event, with Dennis James, Tricky Jackson and Marvin Ward making special appearances. Jackson, an avid follower of our terrific trio’s work, said he’s had enough of Yogi Avidan’s mumblings on the video, and it’s “over, under and out” for Yogi—at least for this review. Ward just jumped in on his own, holding on to this trophy the way Yogi holds on to that pizza. James was a nice surprise as he wanted to let the fans know that…. well, watch the video to find out who last season’s eighth place Mr. O finisher thought should have won the Overall.

Hinds and I also did a wrap up on the women; Avidan refused to join us, admitting he just had fun all weekend taking individual shots of all the ladies backstage, including one of a backstage hand putting bikini bite on my bald pate as well as thinking all 130 Figure competitors should have placed first.

Additionally, look for the inside story on my interview with Nunn, as well as a good piece with Mark Alvisi, runner-up to Liberatore in the HW class, and his trainer, Hany Rambod.

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