Isaac Hinds' 2009 NPC USAs Preview: Who Will Walk Away With Their Pro Card This Year?

This weekend over 450 men and women will head to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete in the NPC USAs. Check out some of the ones to watch to take home one of the 17 pro cards awarded on Saturday night.

This weekend over 450 men and women will head to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete in the NPC USAs. Check out some of the ones to watch to take home one of the 17 pro cards awarded on Saturday night.

dot
Men's Bodybuilding
dot

Last year's big winner was Brandon Curry. We have yet to see Brandon step onto the pro stage but he's been active with his supplement sponsor BSN and when he does decide to take the stage expect him to make an immediate impact.

Curtis Bryant wasted no time and jumped into the 2008 Europa Super show and qualified for the 202 & Under his first time out. This year another pro card has been added so three men will leave pros. A competitor list was unavailable at the time of writing this so you never know who may show up and shock us all but based on the early buzz here are ones in contention.

dot Super-Heavyweight: dot

    If three pro cards were awarded last year Ed Nunn would have been the third. He went on to capture the overall title later in the year at the NPC Nationals which leaves the door open for a few other guys to step up.

    Steve Kuclo and Tery Brewer are waiting to battle it out at the NPC Nationals so this class won't have to worry about these two this time around. There are some tough competitors set to do battle though, here are ones to watch...

      Kirk DeFrancesco: He was second to Ed Nunn at this contest last year. Then went into the North Americans where he won this class but missed turning pro in the overall. Kirk went into Nationals and slipped to sixth. He has the potential to take home the top spot here if he's in condition.

Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Kirk DeFrancesco At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Grigori Atoyan: Grigori is either on the money of off the mark by a mile. He's come close a number of times and found himself in third at this contest in 2008. He slipped out of the top ten at the North Americans where his conditioning was lacking. He redeemed himself by taking the runner-up spot to Ed Nunn at the NPC Nationals. It could be a battle between him and Kirk again in Vegas.

Grigori Atoyan At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Grigori Atoyan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Grigori Atoyan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Grigori Atoyan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Malcolm Marshall: Malcolm is looking to move up from his 4th place finish at this contest last year. He is big and if he is conditioned will be in the top callout again this year. He slipped to 5th at the Nationals but he's hungry to move up and battle for the top spot. Don't be surprised if you hear his name as one of the first called out on Friday night's prejudging.

Malcolm Marshall At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Malcolm Marshall At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Malcolm Marshall At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Malcolm Marshall At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Stephen Frazier: He's a taller competitor but packs a ton of muscle. He was third at the 2007 Nationals but slipped to 8th in 2008 at the same contest. He's been training heavy and looking to move back up into the top spots in Vegas. Again, conditioning will be the deciding factor.

Stephen Frazier At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Stephen Frazier At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Stephen Frazier At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Stephen Frazier At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Keith Williams: Another big dude who could do damage if he puts it all together. He's been as high as second, 2008 Jr Nationals, and was 8th in this contest last year. He held his own at the '08 North Americans where he placed 4th.

Keith Williams At The 2008 IFBB North Americans. Keith Williams At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Keith Williams At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
View More Pics Of Keith Williams At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.

      Sean Allan: Big Sean Allan took the early part of 2008 by storm and had a ton of momentum going into this contest last year. He was coming off an overall victory at Jr. Nationals but his body had enough and he fell to 9th. He tried once again at the '08 Nationals and ended up with similar results. He's taken a lower profile this year and is looking to let his physique do the talking on stage. Will he be able to find the winning combination to take top honors?

Sean Allan At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Sean Allan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Sean Allan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Sean Allan At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Robert Bruneika: Robert has incredible potential to give the above mentioned guys a run for their money. He was 7th at this contest last year and took home top honors at the 2009 Atlantic City States earlier this year. Watch out for him to sneak up and surpass a few people.

      Jerome Ferguson: Jerome has been in the game a long time and looking to pull a Bob Chic and end his amateur career with a USA victory. He was 4th at the 2007 USAs and 5th at the '06 contest. He'll have his work cut out for him but he's enlisted the help of IFBB Pro Tom Prince for this show. Let's see if Jerome let's all his dogs out in Vegas.

Jerome Ferguson At The 2007 NPC USAs. Jerome Ferguson At The 2007 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Jerome Ferguson At The 2007 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Jerome Ferguson At The 2007 NPC USAs.

dot Heavyweight: dot

    This class is always a tough one and I'd go all-in with my chips to say the winner of this class leaves Vegas with a pro card. Brandon Curry and Mike Liberatore were 1 and 2 last year in this class but both are now part of the pro ranks. This leaves the door open for a few contenders, here's a few I expect to battle it out for the win.

      Mark Alvisi: Mark is good, very good. He wasn't at his best in the 2008 USAs but still held his own and finished 4th. He's the front-runner on many people's early predictions, including my fellow "expert" Lonnie Teper. He was second to Mike Liberatore at the '08 Nationals in this class and has taken his off-season to polish a few details in his physique. This Florida competitor will be tough to beat in this contest.

Mark Alvisi At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Mark Alvisi At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Mark Alvisi At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Mark Alvisi At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Lee Banks: Those not betting on Mark might have their money on Lee. He was third at the 2008 USAs and second at the North Americans to eventual pro Marc Levoie. He should be one of the names you hear called out for the first comparison and will pose it out for the top spot.

Lee Banks At The 2008 IFBB North Americans. Lee Banks At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Lee Banks At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
View More Pics Of Lee Banks At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.

      Chulsey Graham: He'll have his work cut out for him but he could be in the mix for a top spot. He was 7th at this contest last year and took home the top spot as a light-heavy at the '08 North Americans. He's had his best results as a light-heavy matching the third place spot at the '08 Nationals. We'll see if he can match up with the others this year in this class.

Chulsey Graham At The 2008 NPC National. Chulsey Graham At The 2008 NPC National.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Chulsey Graham At The 2008 NPC National.
View More Pics Of Chulsey Graham At The 2008 NPC National.

      Fred Smalls: Watch out for the East Coaster. Fred was 5th at the 2008 NPC Nationals and I look for him to be in the mix for the top spots based on the photo Lonnie Teper ran of him in a recent blog.

Fred Smalls At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Fred Smalls At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Fred Smalls At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Fred Smalls At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

      Vladimir Sizov: Vladimir was 8th in this show last year and placed second at last weekend's NPC Los Angeles Championships. He had the luxury of testing the waters one week out to fine tune the details and should come in sharper this weekend.

Vladimir Sizov At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals. Vladimir Sizov At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Vladimir Sizov At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Vladimir Sizov At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.

      Kevin Sperling: Kevin was the winner of the heavyweight class at last weekend's NPC Los Angeles and will look to keep his winning streak in tact at this contest. He was tenth at the NPC USAs last year and has made some improvements heading into this contest.

Kevin Sperling At The 2008 NPC USAs. Kevin Sperling At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Kevin Sperling At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Kevin Sperling At The 2008 NPC USAs.

dot Light-Heavyweight: dot

    Curtis Bryant took home the second pro card last year in this class and it is possible for one of the three cards to go to the winner of this class. Peter Putnam and Al Auguste did battle in 2007 and look for it to be a tight race again this year.

      Branden Ray: The odds on favorite heading into Vegas this weekend for this class. Brandon was in the runner-up spot last year to Bryant and will be in contention for the win. If he's brought up his legs in the off-season look for him to take this class.

Branden Ray At The 2008 NPC USAs. Branden Ray At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Branden Ray At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Branden Ray At The 2008 NPC USAs.

      Tamer El Guindy: Tamer gave folks a preview last weekend at the NPC Los Angeles show and he looks good. He showed his cards and made others in this class take notice. He'll be conditioned but will all his body parts match up with the others?

Tamer El Guindy At The 2008 NPC USAs. Tamer El Guindy At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Tamer El Guindy At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Tamer El Guindy At The 2008 NPC USAs.

      Troy Tate: Tory was a stand out last year at this contest. He was in third at this show last year and brings some crazy conditioning. If he added a little more muscle in his off-season he'll be a contender again this year.

Troy Tate At The 2008 NPC USAs. Troy Tate At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Troy Tate At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Troy Tate At The 2008 NPC USAs.

      Pete Ciccone: Pete will have his hands full in order to leave the winner of this class but don't be surprised if he is in the running for a top five spot. Pete's steadily made improvements to his physique and could give a few guys some trouble in this class.

Pete Ciccone At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals. Pete Ciccone At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Pete Ciccone At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Pete Ciccone At The 2007 NPC Junior Nationals.

dot Middleweight - Welterweight - Lightweight - Bantamweight: dot

    The lighter weight guys tend to be out muscled at this contest but don't be too shocked if one of them is in the running for the pro card on Saturday night's overall pose-down. There are some guys who could upset the big boys.

    The two I think stand the best chance at giving the bigger guys a run for their money will be the winner of Shavis Higa and Daryl Gee. Both of these guys are very, very good. Shavis was the winner of the Welterweight class in the '08 USAs and he took home the top spot as a lightweight in '07.

Shavis Higa At The 2008 NPC USAs. Shavis Higa At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Shavis Higa At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Shavis Higa At The 2008 NPC USAs.

    Look for him to be at the top of his class again this year. The winner of the overall NPC Los Angeles last week was Daryl Gee. He looked impressive in his win and took down the bigger guys there so don't be too shocked if he does the same in Vegas. Definitely, one of the more impressive middleweights you'll see step on a National stage.

dot
Women's Bodybuilding
dot

It's tough to say who will battle it out without seeing who is in the contest but based on the early reports here's a few names you might see in the mix. An additional pro card has been added to this year's contest, so two women will leave with IFBB Pro status on Saturday night.

    Holly Geersen: The Colorado competitor was second to the eventual overall winner, Isabelle Turrell, in this contest last year. She will be a contender again this year for the heavyweight class.

Holly Geersen At The 2008 NPC USAs. Holly Geersen At The 2008 NPC USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Holly Geersen At The 2008 NPC USAs.
View More Pics Of Holly Geersen At The 2008 NPC USAs.

    Christine Sabo: Christine is one to watch in this contest. She won the light-heavyweight last year in this contest and should be a contender for a pro card again this year.

Christine Sabo At The 2008 IFBB North Americans. Christine Sabo At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Christine Sabo At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
View More Pics Of Christine Sabo At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.

    Kira Neuman: Kira was the 2007 Collegiate Nationals champ in 2007 and placed second as a lightweight at the 2008 Junior Nationals. Early reports have her adding some size and looking good heading into this contest.

Kira Neuman At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals. Kira Neuman At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Kira Neuman At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Kira Neuman At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Angela Salvagno: She took home the top spot in the light-heavyweight division at the 2007 USAs and is said to be in this year's contest. If she is look for her to be one of the front-runners

Might we see the 2008 Jr. Nationals champ Amber DeFrancesco in this contest? Maybe Kriss Murrell in the heavyweights? Rebekka Armstrong took home the overall at the NPC Los Angeles but no word on if she plans to head into this contest.

If Michelle Brent decides to enter should could be a threat as she won the heavyweight division last weekend at the Master Nastionals 35+. Lisa Boushard and Kris Klark also did well at the Master's Nationals taking home first and second in the light-heavyweight divisions.

dot
Figure
dot

Six women (the winner of each class) will take home pro cards. Early reports have close to 200 figure competitors in this contest so your guess is as good as mine who has entered this event. Last year's overall winner was Amy Lee- Martin who snuck up on a number of competitors for the overall crown. A few of the women to watch out for in the figure division...

    Mandy Henderson: Mandy has been the brides-maid in her last two shows. The latest came in Chicago where she was second to eventual pro Christina Vargas at the NPC Jr. Nationals. Look for Mandy to be in the top callouts for the A Class figure.

Mandy Henderson At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Mandy Henderson At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Mandy Henderson At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Mandy Henderson At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Soleivi Hernandez: Soleivi has a great physique and is always in the mix when she enters a contest. She'll be one of the front-runners again at this contest if she in in the show.

Soleivi Hernandez At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Soleivi Hernandez At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Soleivi Hernandez At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Soleivi Hernandez At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Candice Houston: Candice has come close a number of times but the top spot for a pro card hasn't come her way, yet. She's always a contender though and look for her to be in the top spots again this show.

Candice Houston At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Candice Houston At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Candice Houston At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Candice Houston At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Pamela Sooper: Pam wasn't at her best at the '08 Jr. Nationals but watch out for her this time around in the C class as she looks to improve on her fifth place finish from last month.

Pamela Sooper At The 2008 IFBB North Americans. Pamela Sooper At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Pamela Sooper At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.
View More Pics Of Pamela Sooper At The 2008 IFBB North Americans.

    Ann Titone: Ann faired well at the '09 Jr USAs where she won the C Class but slipped to 6th at the Jr Nationals. It will be a matter of how conditioned she is and if it is too much for the judge's liking at this contest.

Ann Titone At The 2009 NPC Jr. USAs. Ann Titone At The 2009 NPC Jr. USAs.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Ann Titone At The 2009 NPC Jr. USAs.
View More Pics Of Ann Titone At The 2009 NPC Jr. USAs.

    Jeanne Nimmer: Jeanne has been in the mix her last few shows. Last weekend she was the runner up at the Master's Nationals in the tall class and I look for her to be a top threat to the class at this show.

Jeanne Nimmer At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Jeanne Nimmer At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Jeanne Nimmer At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jeanne Nimmer At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Elizabeth Earhart: Elizabeth was one of the class winners at the 2008 Jr. Nationals but missed out on a pro card as only 4 of the 6 left with one. She'll try her hand at one this time around and should she win her class this time, she'll leave a pro.

Elizabeth Earhart At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Elizabeth Earhart At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Elizabeth Earhart At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Elizabeth Earhart At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Jenny Lewis: Jenny was third at the '08 Jr. Nationals and if she comes in a bit tighter in the glutes/hamstrings she could leave with one of the pro cards. Watch out for her as she has a great physique.

Jenny Lewis At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Jenny Lewis At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Jenny Lewis At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jenny Lewis At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Khristy Poteat: Khristy has steadily improved and shed the muscle that has held her back from a top spot. She has striking good looks and if she has refined her physique, look for her to be in the mix at this contest.

Khristy Poteat At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals. Khristy Poteat At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Khristy Poteat At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Khristy Poteat At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Wendy Fortino: Wendy took home the overall crown at the Contra Cost earlier this year and won the A Class at the California State show. She could be a contender in the short class at this contest.

    Susan Salazar: Susan has steadily improved and has the overall California Figure title from this year under her belt. She'll be one to watch in the B class.

Susan Salazar At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals. Susan Salazar At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Susan Salazar At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Susan Salazar At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Akane Nigro-Ismeal: Akane was third in the A Class at the '08 Jr Nationals and has the potential to do well in this contest.

Akane Nigro-Ismeal At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals. Akane Nigro-Ismeal At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Akane Nigro-Ismeal At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Akane Nigro-Ismeal At The 2008 NPC Junior Nationals.

dot
Bikini
dot

The newest division to the NPC wasn't embraced by everyone when it was first announced. I've always been a supporter and happy to see this division gaining the respect it deserves heading into this contest.

Each of the six height class winners will leave with IFBB Pro status and I can promise you, if you give it a chance you'll see there are a number of women who are more than deserving of the pro status. There will be a number of women in the mix who are very, very good.

Some of them competed in Figure and have made the switch to the new division. Here's a few to keep your eyes on and I don't think you'll have a problem doing so when you see them take the stage.

    Kristal Marshall: Kristal was the runner-up in the short division at the inaugural NPC Bikini division at this year's Arnold Classic. She will be sporting a new suit and tells me her family will be there to support her. This busy mother of one has a look that is in line with what the bikini division is all about. Look for her to be a stand out in this show.

    Amanda Latona: The talented Latona is coming off an overall victory at last weekend's NPC Los Angeles. She's found her groove with the bikini division and will be tough to beat at this show. She too is what is right about this new division... a combination of muscle tone, sexiness and a healthy look.

Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC Los Angeles Championships. Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC Los Angeles Championships.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC Los Angeles Championships.
View More Pics Of Amanda Latona At The 2009 NPC Los Angeles Championships.

    Jamie Baird: Jamie has a sleek, sexy look to her physique and is one of the women who has made the transition to bikini nicely. She won the E Class at last month's Jr. Nationals and was the runner up in her class at this year's Jr. USA. Look for her to be one of the names called out first on Friday night.

Jamie Baird At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Jamie Baird At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Jamie Baird At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jamie Baird At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Kat Holmes: Kat has a smoken physique and will look to be in the running here. She was first in her class at this year's Jr. USA and third at the Jr. Nationals. She'll be one to watch again at this show.

Kat Holmes At The 2009 NPC Junior National. Kat Holmes At The 2009 NPC Junior National.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Kat Holmes At The 2009 NPC Junior National.
View More Pics Of Kat Holmes At The 2009 NPC Junior National.

    Jennifer Buckles: Jennifer was third at Jr. Nationals and the runner up at Jr. USAs. Jennifer will be another one who will turn a few heads in this new division.

Jennifer Buckles At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals. Jennifer Buckles At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Jennifer Buckles At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.
View More Pics Of Jennifer Buckles At The 2009 NPC Junior Nationals.

    Monique Minton: "Momo" has been blowing up the scene off the stage by appearing in numerous magazines. She'll look to find success on stage as a bikini division this weekend. She was third in this contest last year in the figure tall class. If she comes in tight enough she'll leave a pro.

Monique Minton At The 2008 NPC Nationals. Monique Minton At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Monique Minton At The 2008 NPC Nationals.
View More Pics Of Monique Minton At The 2008 NPC Nationals.

    Andrea Taylor: Andrea was the runner up in the 2008 FLEX bikini model search and won the short class at the Orange County Muscle Classic this year. She has the look that will make her a stand out in this contest.

There will definitely be more women that I left out that will make us all do a double-take. The prejudging for the bikini will take place on Friday night along with the men. The female bodybuilding and figure prejudging will start on Saturday morning.

dot
Conclusion
dot

We'll find out who the new pros are on Saturday night. Stay tuned for photos, videos and reports here on bodybuilding.com throughout the weekend. To purchase tickets visit www.musclecontest.com.