I had so much fun promoting my first bodybuilding and fitness contest last year, I decided to do it again. The 2008 ABA Natural Illinois Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships took place on Saturday, March 22nd, 2008 at Brooks Middle School in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
Despite taking place on Easter weekend, 22 athletes showed up to win the first annual Natural Illinois Championships. Many had obviously dieted hard over the holidays in order to present themselves onstage in ripped and ready condition.
Even though it was a holiday weekend, I was pleasantly surprised at the large crowd that showed up to support natural bodybuilding. There was a good crowd at the pre-judging but the turnout for the evening show was fantastic. At least three quarters of the auditorium was full and the enthusiastic audience stayed until the very end of the show.
The ABA/INBA is one of the biggest Natural, drug-free organizations in the world. They promote bodybuilding and fitness competitions nearly every weekend all over the world, culminating with the Natural Universe and Natural Olympia Championships held in November of each year. For more information, check out the official ABA/INBA website at www.naturalbodybuilding.com.
As a drug-free organization, every competitor in the Natural Illinois was required to take a drug-test to ensure that they are natural athletes and did not use anabolic steroids, growth hormone or diuretics to prepare for this show. These bodybuilders and fitness competitors achieved their physiques through hard work at the gym and at the dinner table.
In the exciting Fitness division, only 2007 Natural North America Fitness runner-up,
Crystal Juarez of Joliet, Illinois, showed up to win the crown. Crystal presented an excellent routine that was inspired by the movie, "Flashdance", as the audience roared its approval.
Crystal was even leaner than she was last July for the North America and her excellent routine and physique will go far in the Fitness division in the future as she continues to compete.
In the always competitive Figure division, Crystal Smith from Bolingbrook, Illinois easily took first place. Crystal showed off her lean and muscular physique in the two-piece swimsuit round.
Her shoulders, abs, arms and back were particularly impressive and Crystal would have fared very well in the Women's Bodybuilding division if she would have crossed over to that class as well.
Andrea Jones from Bolingbrook took second place with Nicole Wenzel and Shannon Schumpart, both from Chicago, landing in third and fourth place, respectively.
Masters Women's Bodybuilding
The bodybuilders were up next in the Masters Women Bodybuilding division. Diane Steinbronn from Boise, Idaho showed off impressive muscularity and exceptional leg development to beat out Laurie Ellis from Decatur, Illinois. In the Grand Masters class (over 50 years old),
Janet O'Hara won in an uncontested division.
In the overall decision, Diane Steinbronn was too muscular for Janet O'Hara and she was awarded the Overall Masters Championship.
The Model Search competition was next on the agenda. Fitness Champion
Crystal Juarez won her second title of the night by winning the Model Search division as well. Nicole Wenzel from Chicago was in second place and Heather Burns, a former military helicopter pilot, took third.
Masters Men's Bodybuilding
The Masters Men Bodybuilding division was next and
Mike Curylo from Schaumburg, Illinois won the class easily over Wesley Majka from nearby Plainfield, Illinois. Mike was just too hard and muscular for
Wesley on this night.
In the Grand Masters division,
Peter Calabrese from Bolingbrook won a unanimous decision over last year's North America Grand Master champ,
Robert has good development for this category, he just needs to come in even harder as Calabrese was really lean and ripped in this class.
In the overall, Mike Curylo had more muscle on his frame to defeat Calabrese for the Overall Masters Men division. Both men were really ripped and lean for the Masters class.
Novice Men's Bodybuilding
After the intermission, the contest resumed with the Novice Men's Bodybuilding division. In the short class, the ultra-ripped
Jeff Lindo from Attleboro, Massachusetts easily took first place.
Jeff was ripped to the bone for this contest with striations that went up to the middle of his back and extremely deep and defined abdominals. Frank Musquiz showed good chest and back development in his contest debut for second place.
In the tall class, Brent Swanson from Decatur, Illinois won a close tie-breaker over Masters Overall Champ Mike Curylo. Brent was a little thicker than Mike but Mike was leaner so the judges were split in their voting.
In third place was Jacques Avery displaying potential plus with his small waist, sweeping lats and big arms. If Jacques gets harder, he's going to be tough to beat because he has the shape to go all the way.
Women's Open Bodybuilding
In the Women's Open Bodybuilding division,
Diane Steinbronn easily won again over
Laurie Ellis in second place and
Janet O'Hara in third. Diane showed very good development and hardness to win her second title of the night.
In the Bikini Diva class, Karen Gorbatenko from Streamwood, Illinois earned cheers from the crowd as she won all first place votes and the division. Shea Turner from Chicago received second place and Nicole Wenzel was in third place.
Men's Open Bodybuilding
The evening show finished with the Men's Open Bodybuilding division. Many of the Novice competitors crossed over the Open class so the results were similar.
In the tall class, Brent Swanson was in another tie-breaker, this time with Jacques Avery. Brent again won the close decision with Jacques in second place. Edward Szymanski took the third place trophy home followed by Gary LeBeau from Waukesha, Wisconsin in fourth.
Before the overall trophy and sword was awarded to the Men's Open division, the Bodypart Awards were given out. I decided to bring back the Bodypart Awards to the competitions I promote because I think they are a lot of fun for both the audience and the competitors.
In the overall decision, Jeff Lindo again won by a unanimous decision over Tall Class winner Brent Swanson. Jeff has outstanding potential and he should do great in the Natural Olympia and Natural Universe if he can repeat the shredded condition that he displayed tonight.
I would like to thank all the sponsors for supporting natural bodybuilding and fitness. My main sponsor was Optimum Nutrition and ABB. I also wanted to thank Fitness Factory Outlet for providing the equipment for the competitors to pump up with. My other sponsors included JM Steel, Nutrition Discounters, Pride Nutrition and House of Pain.
I'm looking forward to the Natural North America Bodybuilding, Fitness and Figure Championships, which will be held on Saturday, August 9th, 2008 at Romeoville High School in Romeoville, Illinois. After last year's outstanding competition, this year should be even bigger and better!