2009 NPC USA's Review: 450 Competitors... 17 New Pros!

Another NPC USA contest is in the books and it was a hot one in Las Vegas. Over 450 competitors took the stage and 17 of them left as IFBB Pros. Here's a look at the winners and more.

Another NPC USA contest is in the books and it was a hot one in Las Vegas. Over 450 competitors took the stage and a 17 of them left as IFBB Pros.

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Men's Bodybuilding
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Some of the early favorites, at least on paper, delivered while others came up a bit short. Three men left with IFBB Pro cards, which is up one from previous years. The Super-Heavyweight winner, Grigori Atoyan has to be the happiest guy related to that news as he took home the third pro card.

Grigori Atoyan At The 2009 NPC USAs. Grigori Atoyan At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Grigori Atoyan At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Grigori has competed for a number of years, coming up short numerous times. It was his lucky night as he beat Keith Williams, Robert Burneika who finished second and third respectively in the Super-heavyweight class. The supers were a bit lackluster in my opinion and didn't deliver a real WOW factor.

Keith Williams At The 2009 NPC USAs. Keith Williams At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Keith Williams At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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They were big but none of the guys left you thinking holy smokes this dude is good. No disrespect intended to any of the competitors but when you leave the amateur ranks, you're headed to a stage with the likes of Jay Cutler. One guy to keep an eye on in this class is Jason Huh.

He's only 24 years old and has crazy potential. If he can tighten up his conditioning the next time he takes the stage look for him to come up on top of this class. We missed out on Jerome Ferguson's wild routine due to him placing 6th. Will this be the last time we see him on stage? You never know with Jerome.

The heavyweight class was won by Mark Alvisi. Mark was a heavy favorite going into this contest and he lived up to the hype. Mark not only won his class but he took home the overall Mr. USA title. Lee Banks is a tremendous bodybuilding and looked great.

Mark Alvisi At The 2009 NPC USAs. Mark Alvisi At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Mark Alvisi At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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I had him beating Mark from the waist up but Mark had better wheels than Banks. I do think Lee could do more damage as a pro given his genetics but he'll need to make it to the pros first.

Lee Banks At The 2009 NPC USAs. Lee Banks At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Lee Banks At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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One guy to really keep an eye on in this class is Fred Smalls. Fred was the best bodybuilder in this class but he wasn't the best conditioned. That led to him placing second but if he can dial it in for his next show look for him to come out on top.

Fred Smalls At The 2009 NPC USAs. Fred Smalls At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Fred Smalls At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Tamer El-Guindy surprised a number of people by beating one of the heavily favored guys in the Light Heavyweight class, Branden Ray. Tamer's conditioning helped him prevail over a bit bigger and rounder Ray. Branden was clearly disappointed to not win this class but not nearly as devastated as Tamer was to miss out on a pro card.

Tamer El-Guindy At The 2009 NPC USAs. Tamer El-Guindy At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Tamer El-Guindy At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Many felt the third pro card should have gone to Tamer instead of Grigori. There was no questioning Tamer brought his best to the stage but will have to try his hand at a pro card another time. I really like Shaun Crump in this class and he finished in the fourth position behind Matthew Lowden.

He made noise in LA a week prior to this contest and he backed it up by winning the middleweight class. That person would be none other than Daryl Gee. Daryl is a tremendous bodybuilding with tons of potential. He has crazy muscle and looks a good 25-30lbs bigger than he really is.

Daryl easily won this class and nabbed the second pro card at the finals. He's on his way to Jacksonville this weekend to compete in the 202 and Under class. Look for him to make an immediate impact in the pros and I see him qualifying for the 202 and Under Olympia his first time out.

He beat out Neko Roberson and Shavis Higa in this class. Higa finished in third behind Roberson and wasn't as conditioned as we've seen him in the past. Word is that he'll drop down a weight class and if he does he should return to the conditioning he's achieved in the past.

Luis Santa from Colorado Springs took top honors in the Welterweight class. Luis is a member of the U.S. Airforce and tells me he is determined to take the stage at Nationals even better than he was here. The lightweight class was won by Travis Rogers and the bantamweight by Alvin Viernes.

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Bikini
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The Bikini division continues to improve with every show. This was by far the best bikini competition we've seen since it began in the NPC. Colorado's Kristal Marshall rebounded from a disappointing second place in her class at the Arnold Amateur and left Vegas the overall bikini champ. Each of the class winners were awarded a pro card.

Kristal Marshall At The 2009 NPC USAs. Kristal Marshall At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Kristal Marshall At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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The A class only had three competitors and Michele D'Angona was victorious over the other two. The bikini b class was won by Michelle Gullett and rightfully so. She was a standout from the minute she took the stage. Great skin tone and an ideal for the bikini physique.

Michele D'Angona At The 2009 NPC USAs. Michele D'Angona At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Michele D'Angona At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Kristal Marshall won the C Class and was the favorite of many in attendance. She has great stage presence and it's hard to believe the physique she presented is the mother of a one year old boy. Toby Tokunaga was also very good in this class and I look for her to be a bikini pro in no time.

Also of note, Andrea Taylor looked great and finished in the fourth position. A very competitive class in the C division. Amanda Latona took home top honors in the D Class by beating out a very good Mary Jarmolowich. Mary has a great physique but looked a little too lean.

Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC USAs. Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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If she comes in a little fuller next time she will prevail in this class. Kat Holmes was in fourth and I've seen her better. She has the potential to go pro but might need a little time off from the dieting. Jaime Baird was the winner in the E Class and another crowd favorite.

Jaime Baird At The 2009 NPC USAs. Jaime Baird At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Jaime Baird At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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This was a very tough class and I had Dianna Dahlgren in second but she finished fourth but not by much. Only one point separated Natalie Pennington and Maysa Quy from Dianna. Look for Dianna to really do well off stage as she has a look that the photographers will love.

Monique Minton successfully made the switch from figure to bikini and took home the top spot in the F Class. She beat out Brendy Scheerer and Tricia Montoya who went home second and third.

Monique Minton At The 2009 NPC USAs. Monique Minton At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Monique Minton At The 2009 NPC USAs.
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Women's Bodybuilding
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Margaret Negrete edged out Denise Dinger by one point to take top honors in the lightweight division. Akila Pervis prevailed in the women's middleweight division with Kirsten Haratyk in second. Angela Salvagno prevailed in the women's light heavyweight division.

One of the heavy favorites going into the contest was Christine Sabo. Sabo took second by three points to Salvagno. Angela went on to win the overall title.

Kira Neuman finished in 6th place but if she can tighten up a bit her next time out look for her to be in contention for a win. Holly Geersen delivered in the heavyweight class and beat out a very tough and conditioned Michelle Ivers-Brent.

The women's bodybuilding was improved from some of the past shows I've seen. The women looked like women and it was refreshing to see these improvements.

There were a few disappointed people backstage at the finals but overall I couldn't really disagree with the judge's decisions in each of the classes.

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Figure
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The figure competition was HUGE! There were over 200 women who competed in figure and some of the classes had over 50 competitors. The judges had their hands full on Saturday but overall they did a great job of picking out the best in each class.

The A class was won by Akane Nigro-Ismeal and rightfully so. She was the most polished presenter and had a great physique. Mandy Henderson went home the bridesmaid again and if she can nail her posing she could take home the number one spot. Mandy tells me it is a challenge to pose her back as she's had three surgeries on it.

Susan Salazar was also very good in this class and took home third. The B Class was won by Candice Houston. Candice has come up short a number of times but prevailed in Vegas. I had Monica Mark winning this class but the judges had her in second by two points.

I'm happy for Candice as she's been at it awhile. Look for Josie Zamora to do well in a future show as she placed third in this class and looked very good. The C class was monstrous in size and to make the top callout in this class is a victory in and of itself.

Emily Nicholson was the big winner in this class with Ann Titone in second and Nichole Guenther in third. There was some confusion on the scorecards as Ann and Nichole tied but Ann won the tie-breaker. Kalani Barber placed fourth and has a really good look.

Listy Allen took the D Class, which was also very big in numbers and highly competitive. Listy went on to win the overall title at the end of the night. She beat out Jenny Lewis and Ryan Everson who finished second and third in this class.

Jennifer Woodruff was the big winner in the E class as she beat out Kimberly Sheppard and Stephanie McDonald, who took home second and third respectively. I really like Kim's look and she has the potential to be in the top callouts if she continues to bring the physique she did in Vegas.

Taylor Waldrop was the F class winner beating out Jeanne Nimmer for the win. Jeanne continues to find herself just outside the winner's circle but is one that I think will go pro by the end of the year. The figure class was very competitive and each of the class winners looked good the next day at the NPC NEWS photo shoot with J.M. Manion.

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Conclusion
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We'll have to wait and see who does the best in the pro ranks and maybe someone will jump in this weekend's Jacksonville Pro or the upcoming Europa Supershow. Overall the NPC USA was a very good contest with great competitors. Jon Lindsay and his crew do a tremendous job every year with this show and I look forward to being back in Vegas next year.