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The 2012 ABA Natural Illinois Championships!

I began promoting Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness competitions in 2007. My first show, the 2007 ABA Natural North America, was such a big success that I decided to add a second show and promote two competitions per year instead of just one. So, in March of 2008, I promoted the ABA Natural Illinois competition. I made the mistake of picking Easter weekend for the contest debut of the Natural Illinois in 2008 so the contest only attracted about 25 competitors but I stuck with it because I knew the demand was there for more quality competitions in the Illinois area.

This year, the ABA Natural Illinois was the biggest show I have ever promoted in my seven years of contest promotion. A record number (for me) 91 competitors showed up in outstanding condition to showcase the best Natural Bodybuilders, Figure and Bikini athletes in the area!

The 2012 ABA Natural Illinois Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini Championships was held on Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, Illinois. The ABA Natural Illinois is sanctioned through the ABA/INBA organization and this contest offered pro cards to the winners of the Men’s Open Bodybuilding, Women’s Open Bodybuilding, Figure Open, Bikini Open and the Masters divisions as well. The competition was particularly competitive in the Figure and Bikini divisions. It’s amazing how many women are now training hard and competing, no matter what their age. It’s very inspiring to see!

This year is very exciting for Natural Bodybuilding in the midwest because the INBA Natural Universe competition is going to be held in the Chicago, Illinois area for the first time ever. The event will take place at Bolingbrook High School in Bolingbrook, Illinois on Saturday, September 1st and it should be a very big event!

The Teenage Men’s Bodybuilding division was bigger than ever this year with five young bodybuilders vying for the state title. William Thompson from nearby Woodridge, Illinois was the tallest and widest bodybuilder in the division. William could have been a little more ripped but the potential is there for future greatness with his big frame and size.

Matt Maher received the first Standing Ovation of the night when he won the Physically Challenged – Standing Division trophy. Matt captured the hearts of the audience as he bravely posed onstage in his very first competition. He was so overjoyed after the contest that he plans on continuing competing with both the Natural North America and the Natural Universe later this year.

For the Masters Men Bodybuilding overall title, Masters winner Larry Montgomery posed off with 62 year old Ron Mango, winner of the Grand Masters title. Larry’s superior upper body mass and hardness gave him the easy victory.

In the Novice Men’s Bodybuilding, three outstanding class winners posed down for the overall title and the Victory Sword. Anthony Prignano had great hardness and conditioning to win the Short Class and the Best Abs award. Larry Montgomery, fresh off his win in the Masters Men division, won the medium height class with his great shape and size. Larry also won the Best Back award at the contest. Tall class winner Mark Smith showed great progress in his physique and will be an overall winner soon. In the end, Larry Montgomery finally won his first overall title after years of placing near the top.

We added a new division to the Natural Illinois Championships this year because of the increased demand. The Bikini Diva Masters division was very competitive in it’s debut year. A total of nine competitors went after the title and Pamela Tommasone won the division with a perfect score from the judges. Michelle Dooley from Chicago, the Model Search winner, was in second and Holly Kennedy got third place. Jacinta Taylor from Chicago was in fourth place and Donna Hall from Downers Grove, Illinois rounded out the top five.

The Bikini Diva division has grown so much over the last few years. Twenty three women competed in three divisions for the 2012 Natural Illinois. In the short class, Caryn Paolini defeated Bikini Masters winner Pamel Tommasone by one point. In the medium class, the beautiful Camilla Papaioannou was the easy winner. The tall class winner was Bridgette Wrobel. In the overall Bikini Diva decision, mother and housewife Camilla Papaioannou won the overall Victory Sword!

The Figure Masters division was up next. Christina Clausen from Lemont, Illinois brought her cheering section of friends and family and it paid off with a decisive first place victory. In the Figure Masters tall class, the beautiful Julia Keirse scored all first place votes from the judges to win this class. Julia has been doing very well in figure competitions in the area and this was her first ABA contest.

For the overall decision, the judges took their time comparing Christina Clausen and Julia Keirse but Christina pulled off the victory and was crowned the Overall Figure Masters champion. She was a very happy and deserving winner.

In the Figure Open short class, the incredible physique of Colleen McMahon won first place votes from every judge. Colleen had the perfect combination of muscle, curves and definition for the Figure division. Her abs were outstanding! The Figure Open medium class was again dominated by Figure Masters champ Julia Keirse in first place. Sexy Jessica Richmond showed great improvement over last year. The Figure Open tall class was won by returning champ Ashley Lopez. Ashley scored five first place votes from the judges to win this class decisively.

The Figure Open Overall was between Colleen McMahon, Julia Keirse and Ashley Lopez. The judges interchanged each competitor several times to come up with the best decision. In the end, Colleen McMahon won the hotly contested division of the Figure Open at the 2012 ABA Natural Illinois Championships!

Another new addition to this year’s competition was the Team Trophy. Because many of the competitors now belong to gyms or fitness clubs or even specific clubs to help them prepare for competitions, I decided to institute a Team Trophy. We awarded points for each competitor – 5 points for an Overall Title, 4 points for 1st place in your class, 3 points for 2nd place, 2 points for 3rd place and 1 point for 4th place. At the end of the night, the team or gym with the most points would go home with the coveted 4 foot Team Trophy.

Staci Boyer, 2010 Natural Illinois Bikini Diva Champion and Sandy Rowe Wiedmeyer created Team FAB a couple years ago and their ladies dominated the contest tonight. Congratulations to Staci and Sandy and all their champions on their Big Win tonight!!

The 2012 Natural Illinois concluded with the Men’s Open Championships. The short class was won by Anthony Prignano, who won the same division in the Novice Men. Anthony was too hard and too ripped to be denied first place. In the medium class, a three way battle for first emerged with Joe Perez, Jr. Masters Men winner, Larry Montgomery, Novice Men overall winner and Habideen Olaniran. Habideen showcased a physique that featured a tiny waist with full, massive arms and chest and thick, separated quadriceps. He received the majority of the first place votes from the judges as well as the awards for Best Chest and Most Muscular. In the Men’s Open tall class, Joe Myers was perfectly peaked, showing hardness and vascularity to win the class.

For the Men’s Bodybuilding overall, Habideen Olaniran dominated the posedown with his genetically superior physique. Although both Anthony Prignano and Joe Myers were ripped and ready, the size, shape and fullness of Olaniran was tough to beat. Congratulations to Habideen Olaniran on his great overall victory tonight and to a promising future!


Thanks to Don Bersano for the excellent pictures. To contact Don, email him at [email protected]

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