With a history reaching back over forty years the ABFF Bodybuilding and Figure and Fitness Championships is the pinnacle of physique competition in Alaska. It is the premier competition supporting competitors from all corners of the state. Alaska is large; her eastern edge starts on the border with Canada and stretches to the tip of Aleutian Islands.
In Alaska the athletes train through the deep freeze of the winter months enduring short days sometimes with less than four hours of daylight, there are no sunny beaches here. It is difficult place to prepare for a competition probably the only place tougher is the Antarctica. That is why many who have won here have gone on to the biggest stages in the world.
Karen Patten, Chris Cook, Kevin Creeden, Matt Lowden and Joe Dawson the list goes on and on. With roots running back to the mid-sixties where the competitions were held in the old downtown gyms, the Alaska Championships have certainly grown-up.
The first Mr. Alaska was once held in a gymnasium basketball court. Now the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is the home of the Alaska Championships. It was here on March 8th 2008 in the Discovery Theater that some of the old guard and the young competitors came to exhibit their polished physiques in one of Alaska's most competitive shows in recent times.
Some of the hottest bodies from around the state took the stage for the figure competition. In the short class was Pauline Mitchel, returning to the stage following her overall win in her debut show last October. Pauline has worked hard to increase her muscle mass and it showed, particularly in her upper body. She came in with long, lean lines and much improved symmetry to win the short class.
Tana Arthur won the tall class in a unanimous judging decision. Tana has beautiful shoulders and arms, giving her a nice V-taper and fairly even symmetry. With a little more size to her legs and some fine-tuning on her stage presence, Tana should continue to score well. Jessica Para came in a solid second, with Alison Casler rounding out the top three.
Despite these setbacks, she came in with marked improvement in her symmetry. She has added needed size to her upper body and with a little tightening in her lower body; she will continue to do well.
The judges took their time declaring the overall winner, but in the end, Pauline Mitchel took the title. Pauline has a dramatic look that really stands out on stage. She's beautiful from head to toe and is a perfect example of what a figure champion should look like: athletic, strong, powerful, and still unquestionably feminine.
Women's Novice Division:
Dawn Stiles jump jumped started the bodybuilding with a solo win in the Novice Women's Bodybuildinng Class. First impressions normally set the tone for exciting competition during the prejudging.
Most visible were Tara Daugereau and a very ripped Megan Doyle. They were also the most dominate in their classes with wins over Sohnya Hamar of Soldotna in the lightweight class who finished second and Heidi Hegg taking second in the heavyweight class respectively.
The Novice and the Junior Men started the evening off with a bang with newcomer Marc Willis taking first in the class followed by Steve Hall of Houston in the Novice Class. The junior class lived up to all the hype with some of the best posing and presentations coming out of this class, most notably Scott Lyons who won the best poser award and Steve Wonchala.
Wonchala was much improved over last year but needed more size to overtake the more muscular Lyons. Lyons was the decisive winner with Wonchala second and much improved Domino Crump finishing the class in third.
Solo competitor Earl Johnson Jr. took the lightweight class from Kodiak. The Master Men class saw good solid showings in both classes, the over 40 and Grand Masters classes.
Mike Wilde was the overall winner in the over 40 class with Gene Lawrence taking second and Houston's own Scott Helle taking third. Kodiak's Lindsay Knight took the solo win uin the Grand Masters class this is Knight's third decade of competing and he shows no signs of slowing down.
James Hackett last years middleweight winner was back again this year. Hackett was harder than last year and was the clear-cut winner in the class; the second place middleweight finisher Brad Stiles showcased a mature physique from a long absence from the bodybuilding scene.
Stiles would go on to take the best arms award for the show and second in the couple's event with his wife, with a dynamic pairs routine. Jeremiah Mims brought an improved physique to the middleweight class but managed only a third in a tough class.
Jim Hartley of Eagle River won the light-heavyweight class; Jim has been chipping away at the overall title for a number of years. With solid competition from newcomer massive Paula Ofiu and a much improved Matthew Tompkins, Hartley dominated the class with a nice blend of cuts and size.
The heavyweight class saw the reappearance of a much-improved Wyatt Belanger, sporting a larger physique over previous years- Belanger was the clear winner in the class, with a very hard and much improved Mark Dunham taking second.
Dunham went on to take the couples competition with partner Doyle with a very entertaining and polished routine. Kodiak's Jose Candelario rounded out the class to finish third.
Battle For Overall:
The Overall match ups were well represented with the men novice, master, and teen classes doing battle first. Scott Lyons took the class with an impressive win, his posing was some of the best of the evening- with a best poser award to show for it. It will be Scott's last show as a teen and we should be seeing great things from him in the open classes.
The women followed with a strong showdown between Tara Daugareau and Megan Doyle. Doyle was very hard and much improved since the 2007 Alaska Doyle exhibited nice shape, cuts and posing. Doyle captured the overall with all first place votes from the five judges.
Finishing the evening were the pro-division and men overall classes. With the first call out it was obvious the overall class was heading for a long comparison round . Head judge
Shawn Boisacq ran the competitors thru one of the toughest comparisons in recent history may the best man be left standing!
Belanger, Hackett and Hartley were decidedly close although the placements did not reflect the tightness in the scoring. Hackett was the hardest, Hartley had nice mass and shoulder to hip width differential. Belanger had the best legs and presentation. But it was the combination of all the parts, symmetry, size, balance and posing that put Belanger over the top. Belanger is the 2008 Mr. Alaska.
In the final showdown of the evening the ABFF Natural Pros were ready to do battle.
Robert Green was the winner over Alaska's
Al Wilson. Wilson and Green both were in great shape, but it was Green's legs and overall size that tipped the scales in his favor. All the ABFF Pros are tested for drugs with the latest testing on site for all banned anabolic steroids and masking agents.
In retrospect the 2008 Alaska State Championships was one of the best overall competitions in years. All the contestants were in great shape with the winners clearly deserving of the overall titles.