All that mattered was what you brought to the stage come show time. As seen in many other contests, some of the big names failed to match the hype, while others let their bodies to the talking. It was a well-run show with great competitors all across the board.
The overall winner for the 2004 USA Championship was Mark Dugdale. Mark was the clear-cut winner and brought his A game for the show. A well deserved win and proof that hard work, persistence pays off. At Friday night's prejudging Dugdale was definitely pimpin his ride with an amazing set of wheels. He legs were sic to say the least. His conditioning was top notch and on the money.
Mark is a family man and a genuine nice guy, not that this has anything to do with his win, but it is refreshing to see someone who doesn't let their placing define who they are as a person. Welcome to the pro ranks Mark, job well done.
2nd Pro Card
The second pro card went to Will "World" Harris. This cat has a back that would stop a freight train. On Friday night, the Heavyweights were all the talk - an outstanding lineup and by far the toughest class.
Marcus Haley and Faramarz Aghazadeh, gave Harris a run for his money, but in the end came up short. The judges had to compare the three a number of times before they were satisfied. Harris joins the big dawgs on the pro level now.
The Super-Heavyweight was the biggest disappointment of the show. The Super-Heavies looked to be poorly conditioned, generally speaking. When they try to play the size game, a number of the competitors struggled to bring it all together. It was clear that Chris Cook wasn't at his best at the evening show, he knew it too by the look on his face.
Clearly he had made significant improvements to his physique but was holding water in his abs and lower back at pre-judging. When they brought the entire class back out to be judged it looked like he was starting to dry out a bit but it wasn't meant to be that night.
Some contested that Rusty Jeffers was in better condition. Jeffers was drier but didn't have the size in his legs to compete with Cook. In the end Cook was still holding water on Saturday night's finals and lost out for a second time on the coveted pro card.
In the Bantamweights Steven Burke won the class and in the Lightweights Ralph Gaxiola took top honors. Middleweight Garrett Allin edged out Ery Bui for the win.
The lightweight classes had some well-conditioned athletes but when comparing them to the heavier classes there wasn't much of a chance, at least at this show.
In Women's Bodybuilding, Tera Guzman took the lightweight with Christina Moore besting Yvette Bova in the middleweights. The crowd favorite was Lisa Bickels, but Lisa didn't have the lower body the others did her class. Great things are ahead for this woman though, be on the watch in the coming months.
A newly added class, Light Heavyweights was won by Carrie Ledford Baldwin, MC Lonnie Tepper let everyone know this was an especially special time for Carrie as she was married over the weekend. Congrats Carrie. Carrie beat out Jr. Nationals Overall winner Christine Sabo for the win.
In the Heavyweights Sherry Smith took home top honors and did an interesting robot routine for the evening show.
The Fitness portion of the venue was awesome. Some amazing routines rocked the house and the competitors who had the tighter, harder physiques combined with a routine displaying solid strength moves took home the hardware. A new award was added this year for best routine Shiva Bagheri took home the honor.
Shiva's dance background definitely shows with her great stage presence in the routine round. If Shiva can work on her posing and color she'll definitely move up in the ranks.
Fitness - Short Class
In the short Class Sabrina Gibson took top honors with Brittany Thorsch in second. Both now venture into the pro ranks. Sabrina looked much taller then her competitors with long legs, but a very balanced physique.
Brittany looked great and the routine outfit was awesome.
Fitness - Medium Class
In the Medium Class Bethani Terrell won followed by Kim Seeley. Bethani then went on to win the overall award for Fitness.
Kim Seeley injured herself earlier in the day but I'm sure she forgot all about it after earning the pro card.
Fitness - Tall Class
In the Tall Class Kristina Henn came from behind going into the last round to take the class. Tamara Sherrill placed a well-deserved second. Tamara has a healthy look and a balanced physique - not easy when you have two little boys to look after.
The show was a great success. Many went home crowned IFBB pros while others are left wondering what their next move will be. Nationals is Dallas? Only time will tell. Next year USAs will not have a fitness class but will be adding figure.
Click here for Lonnie Teper's review of the show!
For complete results click here.