Let me tell you that getting off the plane at 10:00 AM in Phoenix is like trying to cram your whole body into a 650 degree oven......hot enough to cook your brains golden brown and just as uncomfortable! Needless to say, it was HOT! Eric Huerta (a friend of ours) picked me up at the airport and we went straight to the Phoenix Civic Center to watch pre-judging.
Will was there at the Civic Center sitting in the audience. We were able to hang out with him for a bit while we waited for his category to come around.
The Figure Competition is probably the most timely and definitely the most boring! But we waited it out. This was a huge venue! At prejudging there must have been about 500-600 people watching and supporting competitors.
This is the most I had seen at a pre-judging before. The stage was blacked out, the only color being the competitors as they lined up! There were 8 competitors in Will's class. However, we had to sit through the novice women's, novice men's, all figure and fitness competitors, bantamweight, lightweight... sheesh, it was a long process. Finally, I got to see what Will's competition looked like.
Will's class got up on stage for prejudging; I sat within the first couple rows video camera in hand, as usual! Will was second on stage posing in his new red posing trunks! (I picked them out, so I had to make the comment) At first glance there were two competitors that looked to be in great shape. But as I was able to look closer, their hams weren't as prominent as Will's and their quads weren't separated.
Will seemed to have the most striations throughout his chest, back and glutes. His muscles were full with bulk and his poses were controlled. Eric and I were trying to compare Will to the other competitors but in all honesty. Will out did every single one of them.
Eric reassured Will by yelling to him on stage, "It's all yours Will." At the time Eric's words seemed "overly confident", but looking in retrospect "the truth". There was no match for Will within the group of competitors both Eric and I saw on stage!
Eric and my attention turned towards the light heavy, heavy and super heavy classes to compare them to Will if he were to win his class. The light heavy class had one good competitor with tone but he still seemed a little soft. The heavy class had one competitor that just looked amazing!
1 out of 10
Out of a class of 10, one heavy competitor stood out clearly, as a true threat to Will in the overall. The super heavy class looked massive in size. Their stature was intimidating enough. Eric and I picked one of the super heavy's to be in the running for the overall. After all the classes posed for pre-judging we took Will out to get some food in his belly.
Then to the hotel to relax. I pulled out the video camera to show Will his competition in his class to find that I didn't put a tape in the camera.......duh! So I had no pre-judging to show Will. Will took a nap and I showered seeing how I had soaked myself with sweat walking from the car to the hotel room in Arizona's 116-degree weather!
Upon returning back to the evening show Eric and I met up with Les (a friend of Eric's). The civic center was packed. I'd say about 2 or 3 thousand easy, and I'm probably WAY off by saying that, it was most likely more than that. The point is that the room was full of supporters, non-competing athletes, families, promoters, sponsors, "homeless" and the like! Everyone seemed to have showed up for the event of the weekend. It was awe inspiring seeing the amount of people in the center.
Changing The Stage
During the break the promoter changed the stage, he added neon lit props (palm trees, flamingos), a small stage for competitors to pose on when they first came on the stage, with a back light that lit up the competitors silhouette, stairs in which they walk down, "NPC ARIZONA" arch which they walked under, a smoke machine and big screen behind it all that illuminated as the competitors came out. It was quite dramatic and very professionally done.
The night show started with routines from the top five of the fitness competitors and worked its way down to the men's open. I oiled Will up and then grabbed the video camera (tape inserted this time!) and took my place in the third row. Lonnie Teper (promoter of the California Collegiate Championship in Pasadena three weeks ago) was the emcee for the night show and therefore gave Will an outstanding introduction! It went something like this,
Yes, you read this correctly! Lonnie has given Will the nick name "Will 'the Thrill' Duggan". It sounds as if he works for the WWF on the side. But apparently when Lonnie gives a nickname to a competitor, it sticks! So, get used to it! I know I'm trying to, back to Will's routine! He posed in true Willy style to the 'Top Gun' theme song.
His face serious and muscles just as serious with each pose! He bent on one knee, moved his torso precisely, keeping tight. His stature looked top dog......his hams had come in and his glutes were now filling out completely. I don't know how Will can improve his physique with each show, but
Will "The Thrill" Duggan
I'm telling you......he does! The beat changed to 'Nelly'.....it's getting' hot in here! And for the first time all night someone broke the sound barrier and I heard someone actually applaud...then another started to cheer a bit! Was it one of us? No, it was someone else! OMG, can it be true?
Is Will actually 'thrilling' the crowd to break out in applause and cheers? Will walked the stage, getting the crowd riled up, gyrating to the beat of "Nelly", his poses became strong with intent. Intent to impress, and impress he did.
The crowd started to come alive.....and it was time! Time for Will to give the audience a "thrill", so he turned to the back of the stage and peeled off his black posing trunks (with his yellow underneath) and the crowd went ballistic!!! They jumped to their feet, cheering, screaming and supporting Will's ability to let loose during his posing routine!!!
I think this is when I lost me voice! The rest of the routines did little to keep one awake. I'm sure Will set the precedence for those who will compete in the Arizona Open next year! Everyone will find some way to peel off a pair of trunks, he's such a trendsetter!
As we wondered the center the rest of the competitors did their routines. There was a lack of excitement on my part with each routine and not once was there a burst of cheering and screaming such as the response Will received! Around 9:00 PM the awards began for figure, fitness, men/women novice, women's open and finally men's open!
Eric and I eyed each other as our picks for first place in the bantam and lightweight were also that of the judges! This was a good sign for Will's class......and sure enough Will 'the thrill' Duggan had taken 1st in the Arizona Open Championship 2002. He was elated to have achieved such and important win against new "blood".
And The Winner Is...
Once all the first place winners were announced, they were escorted on stage for the Overall six (6) in total stretched across the stage as the NPC judge called out posing requests. "Front double bicep", "side chest and bi", "your best side triceps", "turn to the back and give a rear lat spread", this went on for about 15 minutes. It was exhausting for the athletes that have been through a day of rigorous posing, dieting, dehydration, and competing.
But for the audience, the pose down was a chance to see these top competitors at their competitive best. And Will was one of them. Will 'the thrill' didn't win the overall, but considering he was up against a light-heavy weight, a heavyweight and a super-heavyweight, he was comparable in muscle mass. In my book, Will was biting at the heels of the overall winner (heavyweight)!!!
Will has two more shows this month, both of importance. The first is the Collegiate National's in which he won his plane ticket by winning the overall at the California Collegiate back in June. The expected attendance of competitors is estimated to be about 180, it is being held in Pittsburgh, PA., hot and humid! It will take place both Friday and Saturday, so I'm sure we won't be doing much but sleeping while we are there.
Then we leave for the USA held in Vegas on the following Wednesday. This is a huge show; top amateur athletes will be competing for their pro-card. I've talked with several bodybuilding friends and some who are bodybuilding supporters and Vegas will be making a dent in the nation with the amount of people expected to show. Will has never competed at this level but figures his body will be in great shape, he might as well push for one more week to enter the USA.
I'm very proud that he can find the dedication to stick to his diet and pursue this sport with a fetish for personal success. Thank you to all of those who are constantly supportive of Will's endeavors and for my sanity! We are very thankful to have such good friends as you.
I'll keep all of you updated on the shows coming up! In addition, Will has been selected as the lead in the November "Collegiate Hardbody" issue to be on stands 9/15 in Muscle and Fitness. Ironman Magazine also did a piece on Will to be out in the August or September issue. Keep your eyes peeled! Website also coming soon. http://www.willduggan.com