2008 NPC Nationals Preview: Isaac Breaks Down Men's, Women's And Figure Categories!

The 2008 NPC Nationals Bodybuilding & Figure Championships will take place at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on November 21 & 22. Promoter Pam Betz tells me there are well over 300 competitors and things are in place for another great show. Learn more!

The 2008 NPC Nationals Bodybuilding & Figure Championships will take place at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta on November 21 & 22. Promoter Pam Betz tells me there are well over 300 competitors and things are in place for another great show.

This will be the first national competition without Steve Stone. Steve was the man who made sure everything was on track behind the scenes. Despite their being a few new faces to the backstage expediting scene, rest assured the show will run smoothly.

The 2007 overall title went to super-heavyweight champ Evan Centopani. Will top honors be awarded to the biggest man on stage again this year? We'll know the answer to that in a few days. Let's breakdown the men's competition.

Evan Centopani
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Evan Centopani Won The 2007 Nationals Overall Title.

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Men's Bodybuilding
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dot Bantamweight: 143 1/4 Lbs & Under dot

    Returning to the division again this year look for Johnny McKnight and Fernando Abaco to challenge for the number one spot. Abaco was the running up at the 2007 contest with McNight finishing third. There are currently 15 competitors in this division for the weekend's contest.

Fernando Abaco Fernando Abaco
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Fernando Abaco At The 2007 National Championships.
View More Pics Of Fernando Abaco At The 2007 National Championships.

dot Lightweight: Over 143 1/4 Lbs Up To & Including 154-1/4 Lbs dot

    This class has 17 competitors in it just over one week out. While not the final list it does look to be a solid lineup for the class. Travis Rogers came up just short in 2007 by finishing second to Leonardo Ortiz. Look for him to be a top contender in this class.

Travis Rogers Travis Rogers
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Travis Rogers At The 2007 National Championships.
View More Pics Of Travis Rogers At The 2007 National Championships.

    He has great biceps and solid back detail but will need to come in a bit sharper in the hamstrings. He'll be challenged by the 2007 USA Bantamweight champ - Bleu Taylor. Bleu was in crazy conditioning in his last contest and could be a threat if he brought his arms up a bit since USA's. I like his chances for a win in this class.

Bleu Taylor Bleu Taylor
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Bleu Taylor At The 2007 USA's.
View More Pics Of Bleu Taylor At The 2007 USA's.

dot Welterweight: Over 154 1/4 Lbs Up To & Including 165-1/4 Lbs dot

    Keep your eye on Jeff Olcsvary in this class. He finished third in the lightweight class last year at Nationals and moves up to the welterweight this time around. Carlo Filippone took top honors in the '07 Welters and I would be surprised if anyone upsets Olcsvary.

Jeff Olcsvary Jeff Olcsvary
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Jeff Olcsvary At The 2007 Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jeff Olcsvary At The 2007 Junior Nationals.

    Stoil Stoilov finished second in this class last year and will look to bring home a win. Unfortunately he has some flaws with his arms that I see holding him back from the win. One guy who may have something to say about my prediction of Olcsvary in the welters is Alex Azarian.

Stoil Stoilov Stoil Stoilov
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Stoil Stoilov At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Stoil Stoilov At The 2007 Nationals.

    Assuming they are both in the same class that is. They both competed in the lightweight division last year and appear to be moving up a class this year. Alex looked great leading into last year's competition with a ton of hype around his preview photos.

    Unfortunately for Alex he didn't match the look he had in the pre-contest photos and finished in 7th. Tommie Robertson has a freaky upper body and could also be in the mix for the top callout in this class.

Tommie Robertson Tommie Robertson
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Tommie Robertson At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Tommie Robertson At The 2007 Nationals.

dot Middleweight: Over 165 1/4 Lbs Up To & Including 176-1/4 Lbs dot

    We'll see if Jose Raymond shows up to win the class again this year. There are a few guys hoping he accepted his pro card after winning the middleweight class last year.

Jose Raymond Jose Raymond
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Jose Raymond At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jose Raymond At The 2007 Nationals.

    At the top of the list is also the top contender in my opinion, Gaetano "Guy" Cisternino. Guy has steadily improved in each of his contests and was second in this class last year. I'm not sure who his competition will be in this class but it may not matter if he shows up in condition.

Gaetano Cisternino Gaetano Cisternino
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Gaetano Cisternino At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Gaetano Cisternino At The 2007 Nationals.

dot Light-Heavyweight: Over 176 1/4 Lbs Up To & Including 198-1/4 Lbs dot

    This will most likely be the largest class of the show. Last year Charles Dixon took home the win in this class by upsetting Peter Putnam. Putnam has taken a year off from competition and will return to the stage looking to leave Atlanta with a pro card.

Peter Putnam Peter Putnam
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Peter Putnam At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Peter Putnam At The 2007 Nationals.

    Al Auguste has finished just behind Peter in their last two competitions and will look to play spoiler to Putnam's hopes this time around. You can't rule out Darrell Terrell who has been battling his way through the amateur ranks for awhile. Monty Mabry and Manny Torres will also look to challenge for the title in this class.

Al Auguste Al Auguste
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Al Auguste At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Al Auguste At The 2007 Nationals.

dot Heavyweight: Over 198 1/4 Lbs Up To & Including 225-1/4 Lbs dot

    Another highly contested class with the 2007 NPC Jr. Nationals champ Michael Lockett returning to the stage. Lockett is a genetic freak and the guy has some of the craziest body parts you'll see in the show. He'll give the class favorite a run for his money. Who's the favorite?

Michael Lockett Michael Lockett
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Michael Lockett At The 2007 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Michael Lockett At The 2007 Jr. Nationals.

    It has to be Michael Liberatore after his impressive showing at the Jr. Nationals and the USA contests. Many felt he should have beaten Brandon Curry and I felt he was in better condition than Curry. Mark Alvisi will also be a contender in this class. He won the Arnold Amateur heavyweight and finished 4th this year at USA's.

Michael Liberatore Michael Liberatore
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Michael Liberatore At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Michael Liberatore At The 2008 USA's.

    Others with a chance to break into the top five are Dan Decker, Fred Smalls, Jason Huh and Jeff Long. This will be one of the toughest line-ups we see all year.

Dan Decker Dan Decker
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Dan Decker At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Dan Decker At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.

dot Super-Heavyweight: Over 225 1/4 Lbs dot

Trey Brewer Trey Brewer
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Trey Brewer At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Trey Brewer At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.

    My pick in this class is Edward Nunn. He is a taller competitor but packs a ton of muscle on its frame. Nunn placed fifth at this show last year but showed great improvements when he won this class at the USA's. Stephen Frazier is also a tall dude with a ton of muscle and will be in the top callouts if he improved like Nunn has.

Edward Nunn Edward Nunn
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Edward Nunn At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Edward Nunn At The 2008 USA's.

    He finished third in this class last year and will be looking to move up. Trey Brewer had a ton of hype before the Jr. Nationals but came up on the short end of the stick. I like Trey and I think he has a good future but he has to improve in a few areas before he'll beat Nunn or Frazier.

Stephen Frazier Stephen Frazier
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Stephen Frazier At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Stephen Frazier At The 2007 Nationals.

    DeFrancesco nearly qualified for a pro card by winning the North American Superheavy class but lost the overall. It was the best we've seen him and we'll see if he can match that conditioning. Grigori Atoyan has looked tired in his last couple competitions, at least to me.

Kirk DeFrancesco Kirk DeFrancesco
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Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 USA's.

    He was second here last year but I don't see him finishing that high this time around. He has been known to turn things around in a short period of time so don't count him out. Sean Allan had a lot of momentum going into USA's after winning the Overall title at Jr. Nationals.

Sean Allan Sean Allan
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Sean Allan At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Sean Allan At The 2008 USA's.

    Can he bounce back from his 9th place finish at USA's? I look for him to finish higher this time around but battling against other tall guys I think he'll have his hands full.

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Women's Bodybuilding
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Women's bodybuilding has taken a step forward over the past few months. The physiques being rewarded have shown that women can be muscular and still look feminine. Last year's NPC Nationals' winner, Kristy Hawkins was a perfect display of this notion.

dot Lightweight: 115 Lbs & Under dot

    Look for Rita Rae, Tammy Patnode and Lori Steele to battle it out for the top spot in this class. Rita took home first place at this year's USA contest in this class. Tammy won the Jr. USA overall title last year and finished third at this contest in '07.

Rita Rae Rita Rae
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Rita Rae At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Rita Rae At The 2008 USA's.

    Lori Steele has won his class twice. Once at the 2007 Jr. Nationals and earlier this year at the North American Championships. Look for it to be a battle between these three.

Lori Steele Lori Steele
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Lori Steele At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Lori Steele At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.

dot Middleweight: Over 115 Lbs Up To & Including 125 Lbs dot

Diana Tinnelle Diana Tinnelle
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Diana Tinnelle At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Diana Tinnelle At The 2008 USA's.

    The early reports show she will be dropping down to the middleweights this year. If she does indeed enter this class I see her being the top threat.

    It won't be easy for her though as the top two contenders from the USA contest are going to be in the mix - Diana Tinnelle and Claire Rohrbacker-O'Connell.

Claire Rohrbacker-O'Connell Claire Rohrbacker-O'Connell
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Claire Rohrbacker-O'Connell At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Claire Rohrbacker-O'Connell At The 2007 Nationals.

    Janet Kaufman won this class at the Masters Nationals and placed third at last year's nationals. This will be one tough show for these ladies. I like Miller's chances for the win in this class as well as the overall title.

Janet Kaufman Janet Kaufman
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Janet Kaufman At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Janet Kaufman At The 2007 Nationals.

dot Light-Heavyweight: Over 125 Lbs Up To & Including 140 Lbs dot

Karen Choat Karen Choat
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Karen Choat At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Karen Choat At The 2008 USA's.

    If she nails her conditioning she will be tough to beat. That's not to say she is unbeatable in this line-up. Karen Choat placed ahead of Elena last year at this competition.

Elena Seiple Elena Seiple
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Elena Seiple At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Elena Seiple At The 2007 Nationals.

dot Heavyweight: Over 140 Lbs dot

    I see this weight-class coming down to a battle between Sheila Bleck and Amber DeFrancesco. Amber took home top honors earlier this year at the NPC Jr. Nationals. She has a nice balance of muscle and beauty that I think will win out in this contest.

Sheila Bleck Sheila Bleck
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Sheila Bleck At The 2007 USA's.
View More Pics Of Sheila Bleck At The 2007 USA's.

    Her weakest points are from her rear poses and could be beaten by Bleck in them. Sheila Bleck will undoubtedly be in the top callouts and is a favorite going into the contest.

Amber DeFrancesco Amber DeFrancesco
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Amber DeFrancesco At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Amber DeFrancesco At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.

    She could be victorious if her conditioning is on. Nekole Hamrick has also come on strong in the last couple of years and I look for her to be in the top callouts as well.

Nekole Hamrick Nekole Hamrick
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Nekole Hamrick At The 2007 Nationals.
View More Pics Of Nekole Hamrick At The 2007 Nationals.

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Figure
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This will be the last time you see these national level competitors sporting a one-piece suit. Beginning in 2009 the one-piece round will be dropped from fitness and figure in the NPC.

I'll report more details on this decision later but I'm happy to see it get nixed from the competitions. There will be six height classes (Classes A-F).

  • Class A: Up To & Including 5'1"
  • Class B: Over 5'1" Up To & Including 5'2-1/2"
  • Class C: Over 5'2-1/2" Up To & Including 5'4"
  • Class D: Over 5'4" Up To & Including 5'5-1/2"
  • Class E: Over 5'5-1/2" Up To & Including 5'7"
  • Class F: Over 5'7"

Candice Houston will be back looking for a pro card. She's come close a number of times this year with four top five finishes. She narrowly missed out in New York and Vegas by one place. Look for her to be a threat in the B Class. Monique Minton is another to watch out for in this show.

Candice Houston Candice Houston
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Candice Houston At The 2008 USA's.
View More Pics Of Candice Houston At The 2008 USA's.

She's been in the mix in every show she's entered this year. Monique is using a new trainer for this show and we'll see if it helps put her in the top spot. Gale Elie is another one who has been in the mix at every show this year and look for her to do so again at this show.

Gale Elie Gale Elie
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Gale Elie At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.
View More Pics Of Gale Elie At The 2008 Jr. Nationals.

    Host Hotel:

      Hyatt Regency Atlanta
      265 Peachtree Street, NE
      Atlanta, GA 30303
      Phone: 404-577-1234