New York Pro, 2009
5th Annual IFBB New York Professional Bodybuilding
This show is one of the premier IFBB professional events on the east coast. Replacing the IFBB Night of Champions after Wayne DeMilia parted ways with the IFBB in 2004, the New York Pro was launched in 2005, and already boasts an illustrious roster of winners: Darrem Charles in 2005, Phil Heath in 2006, Branch Warren in 2007, and Kai Greene in 2008. Kevin English won the first 202 lbs. and under event in 2008. Rosemary Jennings won the first women's New York Pro bodybuilding event in 2005. The second women's bodybuilding event was held in 2008, which Cathy LeFrancois won.
This year's show promised to be a top competition, and it was. Fifty-five competitors hit the stage to vie for trophies, cash awards, and Olympia qualifications: 24 women and 31 men (21 in the open division, and 10 in the 202 division). Unlike last year, no crossing over was allowed between the men's divisions.
The 11:00 a.m. prejudge opened with the 202 men. Each competitor executed the mandatory poses onstage by himself. Then all 10 executed quarter turns. Finally, the first callout of Mark Dugdale, Kevin English, David Henry and Eduardo Correa were compared in the turns and mandatory poses. Then rest of the group was called.
The next division judged was the open men, in the same sequence of judging as in the 202. First callout compared was Evan Centopani (in his pro debut), Markus Ruhl, Dennis James, Hidetada Yamagishi and Silvio Samuel. Callouts continued until all the competitors had appeared. Then Evan, Markus and Dennis were called back for another look.
Prejudge concluded with the women going through the same procedure. First callout consisted of Cathy LeFrancois, Betty Pariso and Rosemary Jennings. Next callout consisted of Debbie Bramwell, Tazzie Colomb, Jeanne Paparone and Dena Westerfield. Eventually, all competitors had a callout to conclude the prejudge segment.
Evening show commenced at 7:00 p.m. Bob Cicherillo was master of ceremonies. The show opened with the women. The nine who did not make the top 15 were introduced and hit a few poses. Then each of the top 15 executed her routine. The posing on a whole was very entertaining. Betty Pariso surprised everyone by performing a traditional routine (and very well), but ended with her trademark Matarazzo most muscular. Betty is ageless, and remains a great competitor. Debbie Bramwell had a flowing routine which displayed her physique to advantage. But the evening belonged to Cathy LeFrancois. With a sculpted muscularity and conditioning some of the men competing might have envied, she performed a graceful and sensuous routine which met with approval from the audience.
Rosemary Jennings, Betty Pariso and Cathy LeFrancois were introduced as the top three. After a final comparison of turns and mandatories, plus a posedown, the awards were presented. Rosemary won $1,000 and a 3rd place trophy. Betty was announced in 2nd place and won $2,000. And it was a popular win for Cathy, as she won her second consecutive New York Pro title and a check for $3,000. All three athletes qualified to appear in the 2009 Ms. Olympia.
The 202 division came next. With just 10 competitors, there was time for all to perform their routines. It was an excellent group of athletes, and each gave it his all. When the routines concluded, the final three were announced: Mark Dugdale, David Henry and Kevin English. There was disapproval from the audience at the announcement of David Henry in 3rd place, winning $2,000. Mark Dugdale was announced in 2nd, winning $3,000. Kevin English successfully defended his 2008 New York Pro title with the winner's trophy and a $5,000 check. All three athletes qualified for the 202 event at the 2009 Mr. Olympia.
The finale to the evening was the open men's division. As with the women, those not in the top 15 were introduced and hit a few poses. Then each one executed his routine. Hidetada Yamagishi roused the audience, and the always polished Darrem Charles received his usual shout-outs. Special mention goes to Ed Van Amsterdam, performing an entertaining routine (where he dribbles an imaginary basketball, shoots the ball, hits a couple poses, then grabs the ball and shoots again). He got the audience going for sure. Other posing routines ranged from adequate to capable.
After the last routine, the top five were announced. After final comparisons and a posedown, the placings were revealed: 5th was Hide Yamagishi (more audience disapproval), winning $2,000; 4th was Silvio Samuel, winning $3,000; 3rd was Markus Ruhl, winning $5,000 (presumably in his farewell competition); 2nd was Dennis James, winning $10,000. Winning his pro debut, along with $15,000 and a diamond victory ring, was Evan Centopani. All five athletes qualified for the 2009 Mr. Olympia, although Yamagishi and Samuel had already qualified in prior events.
All in all, a well produced and attended show. Judging by audience reaction, the three winners were popular choices.