2008 NPC Junior Nationals Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships Review!

Over 300 competitors took the NPC Jr. Nationals stage last weekend and only seven women left with IFBB Pro status. The show had a few expected victories along with a couple unexpected showings from pre-contest favorites. Read on to learn more!

Over 300 competitors took the NPC Jr. Nationals stage last weekend and only seven women left with IFBB Pro status. The show had a few expected victories along with a couple unexpected showings from pre-contest favorites.

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Thursday Night
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The host hotel is great as it's connected to the venue and all the events take place in one spot. It's about a 5-10 minute ride from Chicago O'Hare and very convenient to get to. There were no crazy 7-year locusts flying around this year and the heat wasn't unbearable.

The athletes checked in Thursday night and the bodybuilders were weighed while the fitness & figure competitors had their heights checked. At check-in it was clear there would be a few surprises in store for the weekend. The highly promoted BSN athlete, Trey Brewer stepped on the scale weighing 249lbs, which is much less than expected.

I give the guy mad props, he lost a ton of weight to get into the condition he managed to achieve. It was obvious he wasn't spot on no matter how much carbing up he'd do between Thursday and Saturday. Sean Allen weighed in at 280lbs and looked like an absolute beast.

Weigh-In
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The Athletes Checked In Thursday Night.
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I wrote on my blog and on a couple message boards that I thought he'd take the super heavyweight division simply based on the weigh-ins. I've been wrong plenty of times before however he was just too big for anyone to hang and was in good condition. Another surprise was Betsy McNally Harris at least to me she was.

I've seen Betsy compete a number of times and I didn't recognize her when she checked in. She had clearly dieted her ass off for this show and it showed even all covered up. I knew if she could bring a kick ass routine to the stage she'd be in the mix this time for a pro card.

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Friday Night
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The women took the stage in the fitness and figure women took the stage on Friday night and it was clear the judges had their work cut out for them. Many of the women failed to do their homework and pay attention to what has recently been rewarded - a more feminine and less hardened/shredded look.

The winner of the shows often comes down to the little details many competitors often neglect. Yes, it's a physique contest however the judging criteria points out aspects other than the physique alone. A woman's hair, makeup, suit color, suit design, tan, shoes and yes the physique.

Many times it comes down to the details and the overall package that is rewarded. A major area I see needing improvement is stage presence. It starts with the walk out to the X in the middle of the stage. If you haven't practiced, it shows. If you're uncomfortable and walk like you're constipated, it shows.

Many competitors either looked goofy, nervous or unrehearsed when taking the stage. This is the judges' first impression of you. Why have them wondering what is wrong with you and why you're walking that way instead of paying attention to your physique? Once on the X and posing it is very clear to the judges who has practiced and poised to pose correctly.

Many times the boyfriend or inexperienced trainer doesn't teach properly but sometimes it is the competitor forgetting everything they are taught. I'll stop with the posing and presentation lesson but it is important to remember that photos don't often show how the image was presented on stage.

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Fitness
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The fitness class had close to thirty competitors and it was good to see the numbers pretty even in the three height classes. The short class had its share of energetic competitors. Two who stood out in the routine rounds were Nita Marquez and Stephanie Irick. They both had high-energy routines and great stage presence.

Nita Marquez Nita Marquez
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Nita Marquez At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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The swimsuit rounds looked like Rachel Patton from Colorado would move up from the middle of the pack with her routine. I had the nod going to Nita for the victory however she was runner-up once again. Stephanie Irick proved that being consistent in the routine and swimsuit rounds is what it's all about.

Rachel Patton Rachel Patton
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Rachel Patton At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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She edged up Nita by placing higher in the swimsuit rounds. Look for Nita to take the stage in New York in September during the Team Universe weekend.

The Medium Class belonged to eventual winner Melissa Frederick from the beginning. She had good energy in her routines and her physique was in great condition. Lishia Dean gave her a run for her money and ended up in the bridesmaid spot.

Melissa Frederick Melissa Frederick
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Melissa Frederick At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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If Jessica Clay can bring her routine rounds up to match her physique you could be looking at a new IFBB Pro in her. She won the swimsuit rounds but ended up in 6th for her routine rounds.

Jessica Clay Jessica Clay
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Jessica Clay At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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The Tall Class was won by Betsy McNally Harris. As I mentioned earlier, if she could bring it in the routine rounds she'd be in the mix. What held her back before was always her physique and her conditioning. I knew before even seeing her it wouldn't be an issue at this show, she clearly dieted hard this time around.

Betsy McNally Harris Betsy McNally Harris
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Betsy McNally Harris At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Betsy ended up winning both physique rounds. I had Alissa Carpio in the mix for her pro card this time around but she ended up in 4th. She was second in the physique rounds but in sixth for her routine. As I mentioned in my preview Jo Marriner would bring one of if not thee best routine to this stage and she delivered.

Alissa Carpio Alissa Carpio
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Alissa Carpio At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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She won the routine rounds and ended up in the middle of the group for her physique which put her in third place. Second place went to Sandi Stuart who looked great at this show. She had a great routine and she could be on top with her next show.

Sandi Stuart Sandi Stuart
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Sandi Stuart At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Figure
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    Sue Upson followed up her strong showing in Charleston with a win and eventual pro card. She bested Kara Flowers for the victory. Akane Nigo-Ismeal finished in third with Prudence Moe in fourth. Mary Cencich was hoping to follow up her strong showing from last year's USAs but it wasn't meant to be.

Akane Nigo-Ismeal Akane Nigo-Ismeal
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Akane Nigo-Ismeal At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    This was a tough class but in the end the judges made the clear choice for who was to be victorious. The winner was Julie Kulla who has great stage presence and a physique to match it. Julie went on to win the overall title as well and it was well deserved.

Julie Kulla Julie Kulla
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Julie Kulla At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Liza Kampstra gave her a run for her money though taking her in the one piece round when she seemed to be better than the following day in the two piece. One to watch in this class for upcoming shows is Soleivi Hernandez.

Liza Kampstra Liza Kampstra
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Liza Kampstra At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    She placed fifth but with a little refining to her physique she could be in a higher spot. Monica Mark looked like she had over dieted and didn't present the same look she had last year when she nearly got her pro card.

Monica Mark Monica Mark
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Monica Mark At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Relative newcomer to the National stage, Teresa Gillian, won this class and her pro card. She was the unanimous winner with straight ones across the board. Teresa had only competed in one national show before but had everything in order at this show.

Teresa Gillian Teresa Gillian
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Teresa Gillian At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Teresa looked great and showed you don't have to compete time after time to do well, if you do things well and it all comes together you will prevail. She edged out Gale Ellie for the win while Pamela Sooper moved up to third place.

Gale Ellie Gale Ellie
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Gale Ellie At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Ana Tigre was in the top five again which is a huge accomplishment given the number of competitors in this class. She bested Chrissy Burton who took fifth. Jaqui Skibba was in fifth in the first round but dropped to tenth in the second round putting her in seventh for the third show in a row.

Ana Tigre Ana Tigre
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Ana Tigre At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Terri Turner followed up her victory in Charleston with another win in this class. Once again though, Terri was on the outside looking in when it came to going home with a pro card. She had straight ones in both rounds and I would have had no problem had she been awarded a pro card.

Terri Turner Terri Turner
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Terri Turner At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    It's only a matter of time before she turns pro if she stays consistent with the look she is presenting. She bested Veronica Miller, who wound up in second. One to watch in this class at USAs will be Alicia Harris. She has tremendous potential and with a bit of tweaking in the one piece look for her to be in the mix for the top spot.

Veronica Miller Veronica Miller
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Veronica Miller At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Sara Hurrle tasted her first defeat at this show. She looked great in her first national level show and only her third show ever. She finished in 9th place at this show.

Sara Hurrle Sara Hurrle
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Sara Hurrle At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    I had Catherine pegged as the winner from the beginning and wrote in my JR USA review that I would have no problem with her turning pro in Charleston. She did exactly that at this show although it wasn't unanimous. She bested Jenny Lewis by one point for the victory.

Catherine Holland Catherine Holland
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Catherine Holland At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Jenny won the two piece and Catherine won the one piece. In her first national show, Jamie Meade placed third. Both Jenny and Jamie are part of Carla Sanchez's Performance Ready Team and ready they were. Both of them looked great. One competitor with tremendous potential is Alyssa Straud.

Jamie Meade Jamie Meade
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Jamie Meade At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    She was in seventh place in the one piece but placed 14th in the two piece. I think the reason for this was in large part because of her tan, which on day two was way too dark and her makeup. If she had done the same thing on Saturday as she did Friday she would have been in the top ten but she found herself in 11th.

Alyssa Straud Alyssa Straud
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Alyssa Straud At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Jennifer Martin Jennifer Martin
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Jennifer Martin At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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    Noel and Ali tied but Noel ended up winning the tiebreaker. This was the closest class of all the figure groups. I would have had no problem if Ali Houston would had been victorious in this class.

Noel Clark Noel Clark
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Noel Clark At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Women's Bodybuilding
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There were no lightweight entrants in the show, which is a bit surprising. Overall the competition for the women's bodybuilders was very good. Most of the women looked like women and presented balanced, conditioned physiques without it being too much. Heather Bayer looked great and took the middleweight class.

Heather Bayer Heather Bayer
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Heather Bayer At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Justine Dohring won the light heavyweight division over Roxanne Edwards. Edwards actually tied with Sherri Enos but ended up on top in the end. Deanna Harvick made the transition from figure to bodybuilding and it suited her well. If she was a bit tighter she may have moved up a place or two.

Justine Dohring Justine Dohring
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Justine Dohring At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Amber Defrancesco was the clear winner in the heavyweight class. She presented a great package and has some amazing legs. She went on to win the overall women's bodybuilding title.

Amber Defrancesco Amber Defrancesco
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Amber Defrancesco At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Men's Bodybuilding
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The men's bodybuilding was a good show from top to bottom with the most excitement coming in the heavier divisions. Alan Watari tied for first with Jeshan Fendando but ended up on the winning end in the Bantamweights. Richard Siegelman won the lightweight division which had six competitors in the mix.

Alan Watari Alan Watari
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Alan Watari At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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The welterweight class went to Vincent Que who didn't win easily. He was tested by Nate Wolfe and Robert Jacob for the class. He ended up besting Wolfe by four points for the win. Middleweight winner Jacob Wilson had a similar situation with Dominick Dichio. He bested Dichio by just two points.

Vincent Que Vincent Que
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Vincent Que At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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The lightheavy weight class is where things started to get really dicey. Kenneth Jackson won the show without too much trouble. David Gratta and Armon Adibi were neck and neck for the runner up spot and in the end Gratta proved to get the nod. Kenneth Jackson looked great and very complete from top to bottom.

Kenneth Jackson Kenneth Jackson
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Kenneth Jackson At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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The Heavyweight class was unanimous with Michael Liberatore the winner. He received straight ones from 11 judges. Jeff Long who was highly promoted going into the show, was much better than his showing at Nationals and packs a ton of muscle to his frame. If Dan Decker was a bit tighter I think he would have moved from third and into second.

Michael Liberatore Michael Liberatore
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Michael Liberatore At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Chad Martin finished fourth and looked good as well. Rounding out the top five was current Muscle & Fitness cover model, Jeff Dwelle. The super heavyweight class was much the same with Sean Allen easily taking the class. The guy is 6'4" and weighs 280lbs at weigh-in time.

Chad Martin Chad Martin
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Chad Martin At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Which could have easily put him 5lbs heavier or more on stage. There is no denying the sheer size of this guy. His legs still need to match his tremendous upper body but the size of him dwarfed all the competitors in the show. Second - Fifth was much closer. Keith Williams prevailed over Todd Jewell and Brian Yersky who tied.

Keith Williams Keith Williams
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Keith Williams At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Jewell ended up on third over Versky. One name I haven't mentioned is Trey Brewer. What happened? Simply put I think Trey gained too much weight in his off-season and had to play catch up for this show. I give him credit - he managed to get in good shape but at the same time you have to worry about a guy who is in his early twenties loosing so much weight so quickly.

Todd Jewell Todd Jewell
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Todd Jewell At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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He looked better when he won the Excalibur. He's still a decent bodybuilder and a good guy. There was a lot of pressure put on him going into this show and we'll have to see if he goes to USAs or waits until a later show.

Trey Brewer Trey Brewer
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Trey Brewer At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Sean Allan managed to make everyone look small in the overall pose down. Even a very conditioned and solid bodybuilder like Liberatore looked small next to Sean. When someone is as big as he is it's tough not to keep paying attention to him and perhaps overlook some flaws.

Sean Allan Sean Allan
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Sean Allan At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Sean is on his way to Vegas next month for the USAs and has to be the favorite in the Super Heavyweight class. He will undoubtedly be the largest guy in the entire show and be hard to miss there as well.

Desmond Miller guest posed at this show and when I saw him in the lobby I thought it was Quincy Taylor from behind. He told me he is weighing 310lbs and may enter the Atlantic City show. The dude got friggin huge! Let's see how much of it translates onto the stage when he competes but he will definitely be bigger.

Desmond miller
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Desmond Miller Guest Posed At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
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Conclusion
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This was another great show by promoter Pam Betz. I encourage all athletes to enter this show as it is a first class event and with everything in one place it makes things much easier to manage.