Three natural athletes earned their Pro Cards Saturday evening, May 12th at the 2007 NGA Olympic Gold Junior Pro/Mountain States Regional Bodybuilding & Figure Championships in Bountiful, Utah a suburb of Salt Lake. Long-time NGA promoter, Blair Dean, produced the show.
This event actually began several months ago when the announcements were sent out letting athletes know when it would be taking place. Commitments were made and goals were set in preparation for this competition. The art of sculpturing your physique through dieting and training is part of a competitor’s preparation.
It was a beautiful day with the temperature expected to be 90 degrees, a little too warm for an indoor activity at a school without air conditioning, but we survived.
High School Contestants:
The Mountain States High School contestants were the first on the agenda. There were eight athletes from four high schools in Utah and Montana. At first it looked like there would be only a couple of teenagers in this event, and then the last week prior the contest we were surprise when five more teenagers signed up.
Four of these athletes came from Vernal, Utah a small town in eastern Utah. (This small town has a bodybuilding story that is worth telling in an article all its own.)
Eight high school athletes entered the stage. The parents of each of these high school athletes were proud of their sons and the fact that they even qualified to participate in a drug tested event. They varied in age and height; each athlete well representing what a drug free athlete can be.
The top three winners of the Mountain States High School Championship’s came from Vernal, Utah. They were so competitive with each other, another weekend or another set of judges or another two weeks of hard work may turn up another winner among the three athletes. Jared Ruppe was the first to receive his award and was proud of his 3rd place statue.
Ben Robinson was excited to stand in line with a 2nd place win. Mike Hopla, couldn’t believe that he had beat his two high school buddies as he was handed 1st place at the NGA Mountain States High School Championships.
Next, eight Masters entered the stage, all were over 40 and one of these athletes was 61 years old. Several months earlier we tried to find some competition for 61-year-old Doc Dana, but didn’t get any takers.
Mark Waltz is employed in the USAF at Hill AFB and placed 3rd among this group of Master bodybuilders. Bill Bentley is from Helena, Montana and has trained for 26 years and hasn’t competed for eight years. Bill, accompanied by his son Zack, made the trip to Salt Lake with a duel purpose in mind; Zack was one of the teenage competitors.
Zack was proud to watch his dad receive a beautiful 2nd place sword. Robert Wilcox has trained forever and at past bodybuilding events was also accompanied by his son. Through perseverance Robert Wilcox was able to capture 1st place among his fellow Master competitors and receive his beautiful sword and his Pro Masters Card.
The Novice division lightweights were ready to enter the stage. Doc Dana our 61-year-old Master competitor was happy that he entered two divisions. Doc was our 3rd place winner. Marty Merriam has trained for 15 years and placed third at the Utah Natural three weeks ago.
Tonight Marty would receive a 2nd place win. Brandon Whimpey has trained for eight years and was ready when they called his number to receive his 1st place Neil’s Anderson statue.
Joe Scott placed 3rd among the Novice middleweights, Brian Swan gives thanks to his trainer, Blake Hancock, for his ruthless training techniques that helped Brian win 2nd place. Kenton Farris gives thanks to his sponsor ENC nutrition in Bountiful, Utah. With his winning 1st place, Kenton is hoping for another sponsorship in the future.
Kenny Vawter, enjoys reading and woodworking and weight training at Gold’s Gym. He has trained for 20 years. Kenny won 2nd place in the Novice heavy weight division. Pat Coburn from Wyoming won 1st place in the Novice heavy weights.
Women’s figure competitions were added to bodybuilding competitions in Utah five years ago. This event has really become a favorite among women athletes and the audience.
The women’s short class was the first figure group to compete. It is always refreshing to watch these young athletes compete. Some of these athletes have conditioned their bodies by running; others are gymnasts, while others use weights to sculpture their figures.
As the Figure Short Class entered the stage, it took little time for the judges to focus on who would be the top three competitors. It would take a little more time to decide where each competitor would be placed.
Annabeth Breen, a new face in figure competitions, captured 1st place against six competitors. With this win Annabeth won a very nice sword, she will have to learn how to handle this sword, just to fight the guy’s off.
Heidi Kesler was a gracious 2nd place winner. Heidi had won 1st place three weeks earlier at the Utah Natural. Joanna Jeppsen, was right in the middle of this tight competition and was happy to take home a 3rd place win.
The figure tall class was ready to enter the stage; Jenni Braunberger, Haley Cross and Tali Peterson were the top three to focus on in this figure tall class. Jenni won 3rd place, Tali, the mother of three children and a personal trainer won 2nd place. Haley Cross an employee at Gold’s gym has trained for 2 years. Haley was very pleased to win 1st place and to have a chance for the overall title.
Now Annabeth Breen and Haley Cross, both 1st place winners were ready to enter the stage for the final phase of this figure competition. Both of these women are simply beautiful and the overall title could easily go to either one of them. Annabeth Breen won the 2007 NGA Mountain States Regional, Overall Figure Championship Title. Annabeth will also receive her Pro Card.
Men's Open Divisions:
The Mountain States open lightweight division had five seasoned competitors, all of who have won awards at previous competitions. Robert Wilcox, our new Masters Champion, found that the competitors were a little more competitive in the open division and felt fortunate to place 3rd. Ron Gaultier and Soc tieng have teamed up to open a 24 hour Iron & Fitness bodybuilding gym in Logan, Utah.
These two athletes now found themselves, one against the other for the title. Soc Tieng smiled with a look of pleasure as he accepted his 2nd place win. Ron Gaultier an english teacher and wrestling coach and gym owner, was ready to accept his 1st place win. Now Ron is wondering whom will he have to compete against for the overall title.
In the world of Natural Bodybuilding a competitor that is 200 lbs or more and in shape, is considered to be a big competitor. All of these competitors were pushing 200 lbs.
Cole Hunsaker, hasn’t competed for more than a year, I think that he took some time off to “beef up.“ Cole is only 21 and came in very competitive. I believe another reason Cole hasn’t competed for a while is because he recently married. I wasn’t surprised when I found out he married into a Utah bodybuilding family, his father in law is Ron DeBry.
Two years ago Ron, then 47 years old won his NGA Pro Card at this competition. Ron’s father was also a Utah bodybuilding competitor. Now Cole is making his mark with a 3rd placed win. Matt Leonhardt has lived in Utah for I think eight years, any way long enough to grow roots. He is a two time Mr. Utah Champion. Matt is a university graduate and also recently married.
Matt has had his eye on winning a sword and came close to taking the big one home but had to settle for 2nd place in a close competition. This is the second time that Jeff Irving has won 1st place in the Mountain States Open Heavy weight division, the first being two years ago. Now having accomplished this win, Jeff will have to enter the stage one last time to be judged against Ron Gaultier, the lightweight champion.
Ron and Jeff have seen plenty of each other over the years, not only on stage but they train at the same gym. This group of athletes, Ron Gaultier, Matt Leonhardt, Soc Tieng and Jeff Irving has the up most respect for each other and enjoys each other’s competition.
Ron has a very muscular blocky physique while Jeff is about 5 inches taller. Each of these competitors are very impressive. After the pose down a Niel’s Andersen Statue was given to Jeff Irving as he accepted the over all title of 2007 NGA Mountain States Regional champion. Jeff will also receive his Pro Card.
Olympic Junior Pro's:
The Olympic Junior Pro Championship’s was about to begin. This is a new competition in the NGA. The rules are, if you are a NGA Pro and have never won any money as a pro, you can compete. The rules may be modified for 2008, so that more athletes can be included.
NGA Master Pro, Scott “Old Navy” Hults, from Alabama, entertained the audience with his Guest Posing routines and then joined the first ever NGA Olympic Gold Junior Pro Championships. Scott was very well received as our Guest Poser and we hope to see him again. After entertaining us as Guest Poser, Scott entered the competition line up.
Ray Long, Shane Stewart and Scott “Old Navy” Hults were the three competitors in this event.
The championship went to two-time NGA Mr. Utah (2006 & 2007 ) champion, Shane Stewart. Runner up was power lifter turned bodybuilder, Ray Long, Scott “Old Navy” Hults placed third.
In addition to cash prizes for the Pro’s, the promoter presented the winners with beautiful leather jackets with the words, “2007 Olympic Gold Junior Pro Champion” embossed on the back of the jackets.
It was a great contest and we give thanks to everyone involved in any way for his or her help.