Who Will Turn Pro In Las Vegas? 2010 NPC USA Preview!

This weekend over 500 hardbody men and women will head to Las Vegas in hopes of achieving IFBB Pro status. Only four men and fourteen women will leave with the elusive pro card. Here's a look at some of the top contenders!
Article Summary:
  • The lighter male weight classes have a hard time going pro at competitions like these.
  • Al Auguste has come up short a couple times and many feel he should already be a pro.
  • Brandi Akers won at the 2009 Excalibur and has put on some size heading into this show.

  • Men's Bodybuilding

    The guys in the lighter weight classes often don't get the same amount of hype heading into a show. They typically miss out on a pro card at this show to the heavier weight classes. That's not to say they can't hold their own in the contest but it can be challenging.


    Bantamweight

    James Shumpert - He was second in the class last year and has the tools to take the top spot here. Look for him to be one of the first names called out on Friday night.

    James Shumpert At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. James Shumpert At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    James Shumpert At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Lightweight

    Two guys to keep an eye in this class finished in the top five at the 2009 NPC USA contest. Tony Boone third at this show and if can bring in a little better conditioning should be a top contender here. Marc Bennett was the runner-up last year at this contest and will look to move into the winner's circle this time around.

    Marc Bennett At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Marc Bennett At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Marc Bennett At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Welterweight

    Luis Santa was the winner of this class last year but slipped to fifth at the 2009 NPC Nationals. He'll look to redeem himself and land back in the winner's circle. If he's conditioned he'll be one of the top names you hear called during the prejudging comparisons.

    Luis Santa At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Luis Santa At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Luis Santa At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    One guy he might have to battle against is Jesse Sabater. Sabater showed up at last weekend's NPC LA contest and gave fans a preview. Lonnie Teper, the emcee of this weekend's event, tells me Sabater is looking great. He was fourth at last year's NPC Nationals in this class. Look for these two battling it out for the top spot.

    Jesse Sabater At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Jesse Sabater At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Jesse Sabater At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Middleweight

    Ronald Torres was the runner-up in this class at the 2009 NPC Nationals. If he can bring better conditioning than he did at that show look for him to be a top contender in the class. He's my pick to win the class. Lonnie, the sometimes Swami, tells me he is taking IRONMAN cover model Danny Hester for the win. Hester is good but has been at it a long time, (he was third in the 1992 NPC USAs).

    Ronald Torres At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Ronald Torres At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Ronald Torres At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Will experience prevail? I don't think he can hang with Torres in the wheel department but we'll see. Another guy I like in this class is Jason Joseph. He was fourth at last year's NPC Nationals and has a nice, balance physique. Look for him to be in the mix for a top spot.

    Jason Joseph At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Jason Joseph At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Jason Joseph At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Light-Heavy

    This is the part of prejudging where people start paying closer attention and the seats fill up. The top contender in this class has to be Al Auguste. He's come up short a couple times and many feel he should already be a pro. He was second at the 2009 NPC Nationals behind a very good Seth Feroce. He landed in the same spot a year earlier to Peter Putnam. Al is looking to put the brides-maid position behind him and move into the pros. I think he'll do it this time around but there are a few guys who are hoping to prevent that from happening.

    Al Auguste At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Al Auguste At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Al Auguste At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Pete Ciccone is back from another run at the title. He was fifth at this contest last year and could be in the top five again. I don't see him challenging Al for the win but we'll have to see. One guy who could give Al a run for his money is Matthew Lowden. Matthew took home the overall title at this year's NPC Jr. Nationals and will take that momentum into this weekend's event. He was third last year at this contest and will be a contender again this year. Another familiar name to the light heavy class is Manny Torres. Manny is a consistent top five guy and look for him to be in the mix once again.

    Peter Ciccone At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Peter Ciccone At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Peter Ciccone At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Heavyweight

    Fred Smalls is my pick for this class but he has to bring a tighter physique than he has in the past. He was third at the 2009 Nationals and last year's USAs. Lee Banks was usually the guy standing in his way but I don't believe he will be in this show. Jeff Long and Mark Alvisi both placed ahead of him but are pros. We'll see if he can join them on Saturday night when the results are announced.

    Fred Smalls At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Fred Smalls At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Fred Smalls At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Chad Martin took home the overall at the 2010 Branch Warren Classic and will look to continue his winning ways this weekend. He's done well at the junior level shows but yet to be in the mix at a show like this one. Chulsey Graham will look to redeem himself from the '09 Nationals and get back into the mix of this class. He has thick skin so his conditioning will have to be crazy for him to be in the winner's circle.

    Chad Martin At The 2008 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships. Chad Martin At The 2008 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships.
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    Chad Martin At The 2008 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships.
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    Johnathan Johnson has steadily moved his way up and could be in the mix for a top spot here. He's had better luck at a light-heavy but we'll see how he fairs in the heavyweight class this time around. Jonathan Delarosa was the 2009 NPC Jr Nationals overall champ and has a balance physique that could put him in contention here. If he brought up his arms a bit from that show we could see him in the mix.

    Johnathan Johnson At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Johnathan Johnson At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Johnathan Johnson At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Super-Heavyweight

    Sean Allan is back for another run at the ever elusive pro card. He's the guy who looks crazy offstage and in his pre-contest pics but something always seems to be lacking for the big shows. He put it together for the 2008 Jr Nationals but has come up short since then. He was sixth at the Nationals last year.

    Sean Allan At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Sean Allan At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Sean Allan At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Robert Burneika is a beast. He finished second to Cedric McMillan at the 2009 NPC Nationals and was third at this contest last year. He'll be a top contender again this year and a favorite on many people's pre-show predictions. Robert will have to get past Keith Williams though. Keith finished ahead of him at last year's NPC USA.

    Robert Burneika At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Robert Burneika At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Robert Burneika At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Keith is a consistent top five guy and will look to be in the winner's circle here. Two of the younger competitors looking to make it into the pros are Jason Huh and Steve Kuclo. Jason was fifth at this contest last year. This 2004 Teen National Champ is one of the better young prospects competing today. He has tremendous potential and again will come down to conditioning. If he can nail his conditioning for this show look for him in the top spots.

    Jason Huh At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Jason Huh At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Jason Huh At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Steve Kuclo bombed big time at the 2009 NPC Nationals and will look to redeem himself here. He went from a pro card favorite to out of the top ten. Steve has been lifting heavy and changed up his pre-show prep. We'll see if he can bring it all together for this show. Lonnie says Dan Decker is his dark horse pick for this class. He was third at the 2009 North Americans so it's not an insane pick but I don't see him being able to hang in the top three at this show.

    Dan Decker At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Dan Decker At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Dan Decker At The 2008 National Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Women's Bodybuilding

    I am going out on a limb and saying whoever wins the lightweight class will be your overall winner. The women's bodybuilding prejudging will take place on Saturday morning and we'll see who the standouts are. Here are a few names to watch in the women's division.


    Lightweight

    I see this being a battle between Barbara Fletcher and Marina Lopez. Barbara has been in the top five a number of times but has yet to find the combination that works to get her the nod to graduate to the pros. She'll have her work cut out for her here.

    Barbara Fletcher At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Barbara Fletcher At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Barbara Fletcher At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    The 2010 NPC Jr Nationals overall champ, Marina Lopez is looking for win number two. Marina was one figure competitor who had too much muscle to add a little bit of size and it's paid off for her. I like Marina's chances here and my pick to collect overall title number two this year.

    Marina Lopez-Bini At The 2010 Junior National Championships. Marina Lopez-Bini At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Marina Lopez-Bini At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Middleweight

    Brandi Akers is one of the more feminine female bodybuilders but can she put it all together for this contest? She was the lightweight winner at the 2009 Excalibur and looks to have put on some size heading into this show. Gail Auerbach was runner up in this class at the Jr Nationals earlier this year. She should be a contender but will need to control her posing and present her physique better.

    Gail Auerbach At The 2010 Junior National Championships. Gail Auerbach At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Gail Auerbach At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Light-Heavyweight

    LaDawn McDay has a pleasing physique and a consistent top contender. I look for her to put it all together and be a contender for one of the two pro cards.

    LaDawn McDay At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. LaDawn McDay At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    LaDawn McDay At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Heavyweight

    Holly Geersen has added size to her frame year after year. If she can nail her conditioning she'll be the winner of this class once again. She was the class winner here last year and I look for her to repeat once again. The question is...can she leave a pro? I look for her to join the lightweight winner for the pro card. We might see two new pros from Colorado when the dust settles on Saturday night. Holly and Marina both call Denver, Colorado home.

    Holly Geersen At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Holly Geersen At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Holly Geersen At The 2009 USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
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    Figure

    The figure competition is huge once again. The figure competitors will take the stage on Saturday morning for their prejudging. Many competitors prefer this as they don't have to do their hair and makeup twice. A few names to look for in the figure competition...

    Tina Francis was fourth at the Team Universe contest earlier this year and could be in the mix once again. Laura Santos is the 2009 Rocky Overall winner and will look to make a name for herself in her first NPC National level show.

    Tina Francis At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Tina Francis At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Tina Francis At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Mandy Henderson is back once again looking to leave a pro. Mandy has come up short time and time again. Will this finally be the show for her in the A class? Molly Goodwin will look to move up from her 7th place finish at the Team U event and could here.

    Mandy Henderson At The 2009 Team Universe. Mandy Henderson At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Mandy Henderson At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Jennifer Smythe will look to rebound from her showing at the Team Universe contest and could be a top name in the B Class. Cindy Martinez returns to the stage and will hope to be one of the names called in the first call-out.

    Jennifer Smythe At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Jennifer Smythe At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Jennifer Smythe At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Nichole Guenther has been in the top spots before but slipped a bit at the Team Universe contest. If she can bring the physique she had last year look for her to be in the top spots. Kalani Barber has a nice look and what she presents on stage. She was 4th in this class last year I could see her being in the top again. Casey Brocato will look to improve upon her 3rd place finish at the Team Universe event.

    Nichole Guenther At The 2009 Team Universe. Nichole Guenther At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Nichole Guenther At The 2009 Team Universe.
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    Julie Mayer-Hyman narrowly missed a pro card at the 2010 Team Universe contest and hopes to change her luck in Vegas. Mary Jarmolowich will try her hand at figure. She was the runner-up at the FLEX bikini model search last year. Definitely has the looks, but will her physique match up for figure?

    Julie Mayer-Hyman At The 2010 Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships. Julie Mayer-Hyman At The 2010 Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships.
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    Julie Mayer-Hyman At The 2010 Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships.
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    Ryan Everson is a familiar name to the figure ranks. She slipped a bit at the 2010 Jr Nationals and will look to return to her top five ways of last year. Heather Dees put herself on the map at the 2010 NPC Jr Nationals with a sixth place finish, and she'll look to improve upon that here.

    Ryan Everson At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Ryan Everson At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Ryan Everson At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Amy Vetter was third at the 2009 NPC Nationals and will be a contender in the E class. Danielle Edmonds has been up and down in her competitive figure career. She placed 12th at the 2009 Team Universe but was fifth in this contest last year. We'll have to wait and see which Danielle shows up.

    Amy Vetter At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships. Amy Vetter At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Amy Vetter At The 2009 National Bodybuilding, Bikini & Figure Championships.
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    Elizabeth DeFalco was 3rd at the Team Universe contest this year and should be a top five finisher here. Courtney West returns to the stage after a little time off and could be a contender in this tall class.


    Bikini

    This will be the biggest NPC bikini line-up we've seen and each class seems pretty evenly numbered. Some bikini competitors to keep an eye on Friday night at prejudging...

    Three bikini A class women stand out heading into the show. Look for Noy De Beer, Katie Barnes and Theresa Byrne to be potentials for a pro card. Theresa was the 2010 Emerald Cup winner.

    Katie Barnes At The 2009 Olympia. Katie Barnes At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Katie Barnes At The 2009 Olympia.
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    Michelle Cagle has the potential to do well here if she goes back to being herself. She posed differently at the Jr Nationals event and it didn't suit her. Look for this year's NPC Nevada State Champ to try and upstage Cagle for the win.

    Michelle Cagle At The 2010 Junior National Championships. Michelle Cagle At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Michelle Cagle At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Brandy Leaver is qualified for bikini, however, I like her better in figure. She won the NPC Tampa earlier this month and, we'll see how she does here. She was top ten at the NPC Jr. Nationals and has tightened up since then. Jamie Polk will be back looking to move up in her class. Abby Phillips will be representing Dexter Jackson's Team Blade after a class win in Tampa's NPC show.

    Jamie Polk At The 2009 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships. Jamie Polk At The 2009 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships.
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    Jamie Polk At The 2009 Junior National Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships.
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    My pick to win this class is Taylor Matheny. She was the NPC Los Angeles overall winner and has a fresh, healthy look to her. Ali Rosen is heading west looking for a pro card. She'll need to have a tighter physique than she did in Chicago if she hopes to be crowned a pro here.

    Alison Rosen At The 2010 Junior National Championships. Alison Rosen At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Alison Rosen At The 2010 Junior National Championships.
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    Follow the action live from our twitter account, twitter.com/BBcomContests throughout the weekend. We'll keep you informed with all the happenings, call outs and celebrity sightings.


    Event Details:

    Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on the Campus of UNLV
    4505 Maryland Parkway
    Las Vegas, NV 89154


    Show Time:

    Prejudging:
    Friday, July 30th at 4:30pm Men's B/B and Bikini
    Saturday, July 31st at 9:00am Figure & Women's Bodybuilding

    Finals:
    Saturday, July 31st at 6:30 pm - All


    IFBB Pro Cards Rewarded

    • Men (7 wt groups) 4 men will turn professional.
    • Women (4 wt groups) 2 women bodybuilders will turn professional.
    • Figure (6 height groups) Class winners will turn professional.
    • Bikini (6 height groups) Class winners will turn professional.

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