Collegiate, Masters, 2008
Contest Report: 2008 GNC NPC Teen, Collegiate, and Masters Nationals Bodybuilding Fitness and Figure Championships
July 17-19, 2008
I consider this show one of the best competitions of the year, and this year was no exception. Promoter Gary Udit is unparalleled when it comes to mounting a competitor and fan-friendly event, and the show gets bigger and more competitive every year. There were 370 competitors in all divisions. Given that the show is so well run and has six pro cards at stake, the number who entered is no surprise.
IFBB pro cards in bodybuilding were awarded to the overall winner and overall runner-up in the Masters Men Over-40 division (Vinny Galanti and Gus Carter respectively), to the overall winner in the Masters Men Over-50 division (Bill Scarnaty), to the overall winner in the Masters Men Over-60 division (Robert Caltabiano), and to the overall winner of the Masters Women Over-35 division (Gale Frankie). A pro card was also awarded to the overall winner of the Masters Figure Over-35 division (Tina White). Congratulations to all the new pros.
Competitors had the option of checking in (bodybuilders have to be weighed, and figure competitors have to be measured for height) on Thursday evening on July 17th or Friday morning on July 18th, which is just one example of the competitor-friendly atmosphere Gary Udit cultivates. If competitors miss their desired weight in the evening, they can return the next morning for another shot at the scale.
Prejudging was split into two events as usual because of the volume of competitors, but each one still ran several hours. The prejudging for the masters men and the one-piece suit round for all figure competitors (teen, collegiate and masters) was held Friday evening the 18th, and prejudging for the other divisions (including all teen and collegiate bodybuilders, masters women bodybuilders) was held on Saturday morning the 19th, along with the two-piece suit round for all figure competitors. Prejudging and awards for Teen Fitness were held directly after the Saturday prejudging.
The evening show for all divisions except Teen Fitness was held on Saturday. Even with a 5 p.m. start, the show ended at 11:40 p.m. In each division, if there were more than 5 competitors in a class within that division, the top five posed and then awards were announced and presented. In the Figure height classes, the competitors were introduced and then the top five were brought out in each class for the awards. Among the awards presenters were IFBB pros George Farah and Julie Palmer, and also 2007 Collegiate Nationals class winner Brian Yersky. The finale was the Men's Over-40 Bodybuilding, with the overall posedown and awards the highlight. The show was efficiently paced, and credit must go to emcee Mike Lackner (1998 Collegiate Nationals overall winner). In his third year as emcee, he has grown into the function nicely and did an efficient and professional job. The Teen Nationals winner was light-heavyweight Evelio Costales; the Collegiate Nationals winner was light-heavyweight Jay Bednar. Congratulations to both.
I will remember several moments from this show, and they involve competitors who did not win a trophy, but who still scored a victory by making the attempt and thus coming away as champions.
At the show I met Brendan Ryan, who was one of the Teen and Collegiate competitors. Brendan has the dedication and heart of a champion, and I see a big future for him. I know he learned a lot from doing this show and made some good contacts which will serve him well in coming years.
I enjoyed seeing Teen competitor AJ Sims and his family again. I first met AJ at this show when he was 17, and he has a maturity beyond his years. He came to this show in his personal best shape, and showed spirit and class throughout. He recently turned 20, so time is on his side -- he has "sky's the limit" potential in the sport. It was also a delight to meet his fiancée, Jaci, and I see a bright future for them together.
Meeting figure competitor Debbie Bell was incredible. Debbie lives in New York and is a successful personal trainer. She finished 2nd in Class A of the Masters 35 Figure division, and looks like a future pro to me. What a nice and gracious lady, and also a top competitor.
Ann and Craig Pratt both competed. Ann placed 2nd in Class B of the Masters 35 Figure division and looked stunning. The following week, she placed 5th in her class at USA, and was first in her class at the North American in late August. Craig placed 5th in the Men's Over-40 middleweight class. Craig was lean and in top shape; the following week he was 9th in the USA men's middleweights. I was even more impressed with them offstage. Both have terrific personalities, and their mutual love is wonderful to see.
Brian Smith was second in the Men's Over-40 heavyweight class last year and came back for another try. Physical problems at the show affected his appearance and he did not do as well in prejudge as he wanted. But he competed like a trouper, and showed grit and heart. We spoke briefly, and he is a class act offstage as much as on.
Joe Ladnier competed for the third consecutive year in the show. He too was hoping to do better than his previous showings. Although it was not to be, Joe is very intense and gives it his all no matter what. With his background in powerlifting, Joe is thick and imposing onstage. His determination will probably see him back next year.
Robert Caltabiano won a pro card at age 60! This gentleman is another trouper who has competed at this show in the Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 divisions. He won the overall Over 50 in 2000, before it was a pro qualifier. With a training boost from IFBB pro Brian Chamberlain, Robert broke through at 60 and deserved it all the way. Way to go, Robert. And it was terrific to see Brian again.
It was a great pleasure seeing Vicki and Brian Nixon (we were seated in the same row for the finals), especially after viewing the superlative DVD Vicki did with Mike Pulcinella (see reviews of this DVD on this site). They are a positive force in the sport. Vicki worked with a couple of the competitors in the show, in fact. At this point, Brian doesnt plan to compete again.
It was great catching up with PJ Braun and IFBB pro Evan Centopani at the expo booths. PJ is determined to earn pro status, and Evan would like to qualify for next year's Olympia at the New York Pro. Both are really nice guys, and it is terrific to see how dedicated to their goals they are. And it was terrific to see and speak with Brian Yersky. Brian placed well at the NPC Junior USA and Junior Nationals this year. He should be a major force in the NPC next year.
And congrats to some of the other competitors I know who did well: Kent Bierly and Dave Goodin, who were 1st and 2nd respectively in the Over-40 Men's welterweight class; and to Eric Brugh -- who won the Over-40 Men's super-heavyweight class. He too will be back.
Finally, a special mention goes to Sigge Malkvist. At 61 years young, this athlete crossed over to the Over-50 division and won the lightweight class and and also was 4th in the Over-40 lightweight class. If a contest is held that he can get to, hes onstage. Inspirational!