2006 Empire Classic - A Class Act!

Get the latest results and reviews of the 2006 Empire Classic held in Spokane, WA. This was a great event and continues to attract more bodybuilders each year. Rock on!

Text and Photos by Mark Mason

To call the 2006 Empire Classic anything less than a class act would be an understatement. In the two years since promoters Ivan Ribic and Paul Hughes moved Spokane's premier event to the Northern Quest Casino, it has come of age. The number of competitors has grown, the star power of the guest posers queuing up to appear are among the best in the world and the sellout crowds give testimony that the sport of bodybuilding is alive and well in the Lilac City.

Guest performers IFBB fitness star Tanji Johnson, crowd favorite 'Marvelous' Melvin Anthony, the world's strongest woman, Priscilla Ribic and her 500 pound plus deadlift were just some of the VIPs setting the stage. Local behemoth Brad Hollibaugh, IFBB pro Michael Kindred and fitness superstar Adela Garcia were on hand as just a few of the celebrities in attendance.

Junior Men

It has been an exciting year so far in the Junior Men's class. Not only have the numbers been up but also the quality of the competitors has grown. The 2006 Empire was no exception. Seven Junior Men kicked off the show. And they got down to business right way. Naim Abdul-Qadir was the standout and obvious winner. If he continues to train correctly and grow according to his genetics he will be making a loud noise in the novice class this fall.

Another one to watch was second place winner and the youngest of the bunch, Nicholas "The Kid" McMillan. He looked great last year-this year he was back with a vengeance. And if McMillan has his way next year, ain't no one gonna be messin' with The Kid.

Master's Women

In the class of three Teresa Maine was the winner. She came back from brain surgery by the Grace of God and strength of diet and bodybuilding. Poser extraordinaire, Teresa Mason placed second. Mason is another testimony for bodybuilding at the regional level. Win, lose or draw she loves to compete. Newcomer Susan Blair just plain had a ball in this her first show.

Congratulations to hometown girl, Ann Gannon. Ann is another person who enjoys competition for competition's sake. Ann took home a well-deserved best poser award.

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Ann Gannon - Best Poser.

Master's Men

Quin Kessler's stick-to-it-ness finally paid off big. The previous week he defeated the likes of Ondra Galloway and David Patterson in the Emerald Cup. At the Empire he overcame Matt Failing and Lanny Billings.

I have to give Billings the most improved award, not only in his physique but also in his presentation. He is fast becoming one of the best posers on the East Side. Just to further prove that point Billings and his partner, Susan Blair, took home the honors in the mixed pairs.

Women's Figure

Overall winner Tara Chandler was a standout among the 25 figure competitors. Chandler, who is a protégéé of national bodybuilding contender Todd Scott, came in with near perfect shape to her sleek, athletic physique. Mary Burke, Chandler's closest rival, looked awesome but was perhaps a bit too muscular for the NPC's new figure guidelines.

Tall Class winner Jill Lane also looked fit and athletic. Her 100,000-megawatt smile and her stage presentation gave her the edge over second place Holly Childers and third place Kim Brown.

Open Women's Bodybuilding

As mentioned above Mary Burke's look was more in adherence with the women's bodybuilding ideals of the NPC. The lightweight Burke came in hard and full, posing with the grace of a Valentina Chepiga. The audience came alive during her routine.

The changes that heavyweight Kim Olson made in her physique in one short week, since her first place finish in Women Over-35 at the Emerald Cup, was nothing short of phenomenal. You would never have known it watching her but she was suffering from two rotator cuff injuries. Second place finisher, "A.J." Audra Kimsey pushed Olson beyond her limits. On any other day Kimsey could have been the winner. With Kimsey's proportions and competitive spirit, if she ever dials in her diet she could be quite the spoiler on the national stages.

Open Men's Bodybuilding

Well, there is no doubt about it. This was the night of Mike Davis. Known by the moniker of "Iron Mike," Davis is a well-known name around the Northwest. The Idaho gym owner and long-time muscle war veteran came in dryer then I have ever seen him before. The striations on his quads were almost scary.

Middleweight winner, Maxx Carlisle, came over from Seattle to try to claim the Empire Crown. He came close last year. This year he had to bow down to Iron Mike. Besides taking the middleweight title Carlisle took home the best poser award. Carlisle has a future in bodybuilding and beyond.

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Maxx Carlisle - Best Poser.

Kyle Stevens, Mel Taylor and Mike Best - one, two and three in the light heavyweights. But that doesn't' tell the story. The light heavies were 11 competitors strong and all of them came to win. Taylor, last years overall winner, was edged out by the youthful exuberance of Stevens. Best is another warrior that will never say die. Every year he comes back with new improvements on his build. If there were a perseverance award, Best would have walked away with it long ago.

In the heavyweight division, Spokanite Chris Piatt came in great shape and wasn't about to let last years Junior champ, Phoenix O'Conner out shine him. O'Conner came out like a junkyard dog but Piatt's experience put him in his place. Second to be exact.

When it was all said and done, Iron Mike Davis walked away with the overall awards. But in my opinion the real winners were the 1200 fans that showed up to see a great finale to the spring season in Washington State bodybuilding.


2006 EMPIRE CLASSIC PLACINGS

Open Men Heavyweight

    1st - Chris Piatt
    2nd - Phoenix O'Conner
    3rd - Marcell Scott
    4th - Donny Holtman pic
    5th - Kenny Flowerdew
    6th - John Ryan

Open Men Light Heavyweight

    1st - Kyle Stevens
    2nd - Mel Taylor
    3rd - Mike Best pic
    4th - Damon Simmons
    5th - Shane Budde
    6th - Wade McGee
    7th - Josh Milsap
    8th - Mike Moody pic
    9th - Gavin Wagner pic
    10th - Jared Till
    11th - Frank Stump pic

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Open Men Middleweight

    1st - Maxxxwell Carlisle pic
    2nd - Roland Raley-Jones
    3rd - Bo Lively pic
    4th - Sam Palmer pic

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Open Men Lightweight

    1st - Mike Davis* pic
    2nd - Zelimer Culic pic
    3rd - Chase Hay
    4th - Jason Hoff
    5th - Daniel Rodriguez
    6th - Eric Whitfield

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Mike Davis - Men's Overall.

Open Heavyweight Women

    1st - Kim Olson* pic
    2nd - Audra Kimsey pic
    3rd - Patricia Card pic

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Kim Olson - Women's Overall.

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Open Lightweight Women

    1st - Mary Burke pic
    2nd - Ann Gannon pic
    3rd - Victoria Morgenstern pic
    4th - Allison Clerc pic
    5th - Angel Vanderwitt pic

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Masters Men Over 40

    1st - Quin Kessler pic
    2nd - Matt Failing pic
    3rd - Lannie Billings pic
    4th - Sirosy Borja pic
    5th - Mark Dinges pic
    6th - Jim Rubright pic

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Masters Women Over 35

    1st - Teresa Maine pic
    2nd - Teresa Mason pic
    3rd - Susan Blair pic

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Junior Men

    1st - Naim Abdul-Qadir pic
    2nd - Nicholas McMillan pic
    3rd - Rory Cosgrove
    4th - John Smith pic
    5th - Oscar Sandoval pic

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Fitness

    1st - Diana Anderson pic
    2nd - Jamie Olson pic

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Figure under 5'4"

    1st - Tara Chandler* pic
    2nd - Jaquelyn Stanley pic
    3rd - Marissa Taylor pic
    4th - Randi Brickner pic
    5th - Jennifer Kriete pic
    6th - Ann Austin pic
    7th - Holly Nesbitt pic
    8th - Courtney Gould pic

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Figure 5'4"-5'7"

    1st - Mary Burke pic
    2nd - Candice McNeil pic
    3rd - Kristine Large pic
    4th - Laura Moe pic
    5th - Jamie Olson pic
    6th - Rachel Lyon pic
    7th - Amber Menke pic

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Figure over 5'7"

    1st - Jill Lane pic
    2nd - Holly Childers pic
    3rd - Kim Brown pic
    4th - Alana Klaus pic
    5th - Christie Patterson pic
    6th - Loretta Tye pic
    7th - Shelly Miles pic

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Mixed Pairs

    1. Lanny Billings Susan Blair pic

* Denotes Overall Winner