Bodybuilding Reviews / Videos
1999 Masters Nationals

NPC Masters Nationals Competition
Held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on July 23-24, 1999
Promoted by Gary Udit
Two videotapes released by Repetrope Productions:
Prejudging (length 1:41)
Evening Show (length 1:15)
Availability: Not available, but will be reissued; we will update when they are available

As of 1998, the winner of the NPC Masters Nationals has received a pro card from the IFBB.  That considerably raised the stakes for the show; it is now getting serious consideration from national-caliber competitors age 40 and over.  There is no screening for the competition, other than having competed in another NPC show, so it always has competitors who shouldn't be in a BB show labelled "national."  However, many of the competitors are worth seeing.  In my commentary on the two videotapes Repetrope released for this show, I'll mention the top five for each class (some classes had less than five), comment on the competitors that struck me, and note a few others outside of the top five in each class.

The Repetrope rule is to cut the delays endemic to BB competitions, and get to the good stuff.  In prejudging, a stationary camera gives uninterrupted video of each class's initial quarter-turn lineup, the routine of each competitor without music, and the comparisons following the routines. In the evening, most of the competitors in each class line back up for a courtesy pose, followed by the competitive routine of the top five finalists, and ensuing awards.  The names of competitors are announced in the evening, but are not labelled on these tapes.  The visual quality is crisp, with bright light and sharp color.  Usually the only body part cut off is the feet, so we see what anyone in the audience would have. Less committed competitors offer the same routine in both the prejudging and evening show, but the more serious ones rev up their posing for the finals.

The tapes start with competitors age 60 and over.  Four are in this class, two of them impressive.  Max Pope (2nd place) has nicely dramatic posing and imposing shoulders. Class winner John Murray, sharper than he was at this show last year, has knockout abs and upper back, nice legs (including calves), and grins like a kid while onstage-- he's clearly having a blast.  (He wears glasses in the prejudging, leaving them off for the finals.)

The evening MC starts into the next age group by announcing, "Now we're moving to the young guys: fifties."  These "young guys" are split into two groups: lightweight and heavyweight.  Three are in the lightweight class, two of them competitive.  David Seager (2nd place) poses nicely to opera music in the evening, and has a tight build.  Class winner Robert Caltabiano, who has dominated this show in the age-50 range recently, offers a well choreographed routine using sweeping gestures to project his lines.  With excellent size for his weight, thickness in the upper body, and symmetry, he's one of the best BBs actively competing in NPC shows.

Nine competitors line the stage for heavyweights in their 50s. Ken Moore (competitor #100) places 6th, but is worth seeing in the prejudging for his thick shoulders, side chest pose and crab shot, and overall look. Taking 5th is Geno Johnson, who poses sharply and sports solid abs, quads and arms.  He could use more size for his height.  The 4th-place winner is Steve White of Tennesee. James Lilly, of upstate New York, takes 3rd.  Joseph Sasso (2nd place) has a thick torso, nice quads, and hits poses well, though he could move better between them.  Bob McMahon easily takes this class with fine cuts, great torso lines and abs, and strong posing to a soul version of "Over the Rainbow."

The evening show includes a comparison and posedown for the two class winners in the 50s range.  McMahon and Caltabiano shake hands before posing, then give it their best shot.  Caltabiano wins.

Next we get the men in their 40s -- the most competitive age group at this contest.  (A few men in their 50s cross over into this category but do not do their routines again, since the judges have already scored them.)  Five weight classes are used: light, middle, lightheavy, heavy and superheavy.  The lightweight class has two competitors. The one worth seeing is David Seager, who was in the 50s lightweights as well -- he wins this class easily.

Seven middleweights in their 40s compete next.  With more than five in the class, there's room for elimination and thus the competition generates some suspense.  Placing 5th is Rick Bolton, from Washington state.  Steve Lee of New York places 4th. Stephen Clendenin, taking 3rd, is my favorite in this class for his lines, V back, and exceptional posing.  He'd be a threat if he were bigger. Taking 2nd is Glen Borah of Illinois.  The class winner is Reggie Williams, who poses to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On."  Never losing his smile, he offers a balanced build and a great routine, obviously eating up his time onstage. Light heavyweights in their 40s are consistently a strong class at the Masters Nationals, as this year's group proves.  Fifteen men vie for honors here, and I don't envy the judges' jobs in narrowing them to the top five.  Gary Ehrman (competitor #74),  who places 13th, has a grizzled Sean Connery look and a V back.  He has solid arms and overall thickness, finishing with a great most muscular shot in his prejudging routine.  Relegated to 10th place is Stephen Dodd, a monster with huge shoulders; he does excellent bicep and lat shots, and was overlooked.  In 5th place, Jim Butler has an impressive torso and can show what he's got.  Ned Alton, Jr., takes 4th for huge legs (rare at this show), great cuts, and sharp moves; he's the real thing.  One up in the placings is Bradley Potts, who has size.  In 2nd is the dependable Jim Hampton, who's been competing nationally since the early 1980s; I liked him better without his current dyed blond hair. Walter Smith's quads and arms are impressive, but he wins this class with a superlative routine -- probably the best in the evening show.

The heavyweights in their 40s number six total, all of them big boys. Winning 5th is Nate Williams, a walking emblem of what bodybuilding is all about.  A hulk who can still move well, his traps are immense in his best pose: a crab shot.  The next place goes to Ondra Galloway, who offers a "see what I got" routine to James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)."  Taking 3rd is Carl Spera, who looks like a scruffy biker with muscles.  He projects his build well, having the time of his life onstage. Anthony Campagna (2nd place) is solid all over, but could choose better music for his evening routine.  Taking this class is Hans Hopstaken, a bald monster carved from granite. With an immense back, excellent size, and a strong routine, he wins a tough class hands down.

Only three guys enter the superheavy class (over 225 1/4 pounds). Third goes to Jack Wadsworth, with nice lines, a tight waist (hard to achieve at this size), and solid ab shots.  His could use better legs.  Taking 2nd is Ed Wolowiec, who has the neck and shoulders of a rhino.  His posing is basic and could be stepped up.  Winning this class is Bruce Thompson, whose tallness prevents him from looking bulky at this weight.  He has a tight build and a nice back and shoulders, with solid cuts.  A posing coach could help him get a better routine.

The evening show ends with a comparison lineup for the five class winners of the 40s category.  Hans Hopstaken wins his IFBB pro card by taking this show.  He will be an outstanding IFBB pro.

Many thanks to Repetrope for making the 1999 Masters Nationals videos available to us.

Mike Emery
January 2002