Text and Photos by Mark Mason
The Stafford Centre, just on the outskirts of Houston, was the perfect size for the 2007 Texas State Bodybuilding, Fitness, and Figure Championships. It was a large enough house to hold the nearly five hundred fans in attendance while still intimate enough to see the intensity on the faces of one hundred plus physique athletes as they competed.
Big things are always expected from promoter Lee Thompson’s annual extravaganza and fail to deliver he did not. Besides the best of the best in Texas amateur bodybuilding and figure several of the top names of the business were on-hand to make the show one of the best in recent years.
The Guest Posers:
Guest performers included bodybuilding El Supremo Jay Cutler as well as the current Fitness Olympia champion Adela Garcia. Also appearing was hometown hero and the 2007 comeback kid, John “The Tank” Sherman. And rounding out the evening was a spirited performance by two-time junior fitness champion, LeeAnn Thompson.
The Show MC's:
Holding the whole thing together was that dynamic duo of the Olympia stage, hall of famer Shawn Ray and the mouth of professional bodybuilding Bob Cicherillo. Both Ray and “Chick” are self-professed students of the sport and between the two of them possess nearly fifty years of knowledge and expertise.
The Title Sponsor:
The title sponsor of the show was multi-title holder Lee “Mass With Class” Labrada. Labrada has remained an active participant in bodybuilding since his retirement from the competitive stage in 1995. Sponsoring the Texas State is just one of his many endeavors.
Check Out Labrada Products On Bodybuilding.com Here.
Men's Bodybuilding Divisions:
The high caliber of competitors in the open men’s division made the judging an on-going challenge for the panel. Lightweight Chris Darby displayed one of the most pleasing physiques of the evening. Darby has made huge improvements in his conditioning since last seen at the 2006 John Sherman Classic and his posing was the best of the night.
Scott Trout came out with an inspiring free-posing routine and a rugged look that put him at the top of the middleweight class. Second place Daniel Sampeck displayed some great upper body thickness. Given time and leg training Sampeck could be one of the top middles in the Lone Star State.
Joe McRee took all of the first place votes in the light-heavyweight class and his momentum remained with him all evening when he was awarded the open men overall trophy and the title of Texas State Champ. Honorable mention has to be given to James Alami who fought the good fight against McRee and third place winner Odis McCullough.
Masters men overall winner Lance Johnson showed what a lifetime of hard training and right eating can do. The forty something Johnson also competed in the open men heavyweight class and taught youngster Magnone Louke the facts of life. Another master’s competitor Paul Erik Frisk pushed Louke hard as well. When the trophies were handed out it was Johnson, Louke, Frisk respectively.
One of the best battles of the evening was in the super heavyweight class. “Young Gun” Adam Young and the irrepressible Mike Eastlake went toe-to-toe during the prejudging and continued to clash well into the night. Eastlake who is a former Sherman Classic novice overall winner edged out Young by a single point.
A shredded Thomas Jackobs easily won the novice light heavyweight class. Second place Jeremy Shih beat out the crowd favorite Cruz Ramirez with another single point margin.
The novice middleweight class boasted sixteen competitors and all came ready to compete. Derek Barbee outlasted all the rest in one of the longest prejudging rounds of the morning. The judges rewarded Barbee with first place; Elias Oliverez took second and third went to Eddie Palmero.
Novice heavyweight winner Mark Brimmage smoked through his class leaving Frantz Placide and Christopher Tyler to scrimmage over second and third. Once again a thin point separated the two with Placide coming out with the second place trophy.
Women's Bodybuilding Divisions:
Open women middleweight Jodie Bruce looked phenomenal. She had just the right amount of musculature for her frame and her posing routine was well received by the audience. In the open light heavyweight class it took head judge Jim Rockell to break the tie between Yasha and Carolyn Bryant. Both ladies had free-posing routines the brought the house down. In the end Yashsa was given the first place nod as well as the open women’s overall award.
The lovely Patricia Dees presented a nearly flawless physique to win the women figure A class. Second place Kandi Allen possessed classic lines and her stage presence was nothing short of charismatic.
Class B winner Elizabeth Taberez seemed surprised to be awarded the first place award. She shouldn’t have. She had the right mix of shape and muscularity that win NPC figure contests. She presented herself well and from the sound of it most in attendance agreed with her class win as well as her overall win.
Another favorite was the Class C winner Kacie Kuehler. Kuehler finished fourteen points ahead of her nearest competitor, a well-trained Mary Helen Castillo.
Courtney West, Kimberly Sheppard, and Kristen Dockter went first, second, third in Class D.
The figure overall was no easy deal. As expected it came down to Dees, Taberez and Kuehler. Judge Rockell took the group through three complete rounds of comparisons before Elizabeth Taberez was awarded the overall in a close split decision.
Men's Masters Divisions:
As mentioned earlier Lance Johnson won the masters men overall but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The master’s men featured some of the best bodybuilding in the show. Shawn Alexander was exceptionally tough in the masters 40 to 49 class. Alexander was thick and displayed his assets well. Another master’s competitor who brought fantastic conditioning was David Morrison.
Third place in the masters 50 to 59 was Randal Doe. Doe posed with the wild abandon of a teenager but with the fluidity of a seasoned competitor. Charles Nichols, who won the 50 to 59 class, flaunted himself reminiscent of Frank Zane. Over sixty competitor Carl Silvani spent a few weeks at the Gold’s in Venice working with the trainer of champions, Charles Class. The added inches in his shoulders and pecs are evidence that the sessions were fruitful.
A great highlight to a stellar evening of bodybuilding was the guest posing by the reigning Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler. There is no doubt that Cutler is one of the most approachable of all of the Olympians. He left stage and waded through his adoring fans at the Stafford Center for a good half hour. Between high fives, hand shakes and photo ops he even managed to hit a few poses.
One thing that became very evident as the night unfolded was just how fantastic this year’s crop of Texas bodybuilders are. The 2007 NPC Nationals is being held in D-Town in a few short weeks. There is no doubt that Texan competitors will be a dominant force in the show.