The 2013 ABA Natural Illinois Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini Championships took place on Saturday, April 6th, 2013 at Hinsdale South High School in Darien, Illinois. This was the sixth year that I promoted the ABA Natural Illinois and the quality and number of competitors is always of a high caliber.
The Natural Illinois is sanctioned under the ABA/INBA organization. Because the ABA is a drug-free organization, every competitor competing in the Natural Illinois was required to take a polygraph test. In addition, several competitors were also given urinalysis tests on the day of the contest.
All the overall winners in the Men’s Bodybuilding, Women’s Bodybuilding, Figure, Fitness and Bikini are eligible for professional status if they choose. They are also qualified to compete in the Natural Universe competition on August 31st, 2013 in Chicago.
The contest began with the competitors making their entrance to the stage by walking through the auditorium. The audience loved this unique entrance and cheered loudly for all the drug-free athletes. It was a great beginning to a great show.
The Fitness competitors were up first. The Kids Fitness division featured the adorable Keira Dafnis who performed a wonderful fitness routine to the delight of the crowd. They don’t get any cuter than Keira and I really look forward to seeing her compete again in the future. Keira’s mother, Kiki, helped her daughter during her routine but Keira did fantastic in her competition debut.
Teen Fitness was up next and Brittni Ice returned to the stage after competing for the first time last year. Brittni not only competed in Teen Fitness this year but she also competed in Women’s Bodybuilding for the first time, entering the Novice Women Bodybuilding division. I hope Brittni will continue to compete as her physique matures.
The only competitor in the Fitness Open division was Elizabeth Baldo. A former gymnast, Elizabeth gave a great performance than included a lot of hand balancing and strength moves. She received a great reception from the audience for her impressive routine.
The Model Search division was dominated by members of 2Extreme Fitness. Toni Fairley took first place, wearing her Chicago White Sox outfit. She was followed by Janice Jackson in second place, Christina Sempassa in third and Sanura Young in fourth place. Last years Model Search winner, Michelle Dooley, was on hand to give out the awards to this class.
The Teenage Men’s Bodybuilding division had three competitors. First place winner Tyler Kelly had very strong leg development and this is what propelled him into the first place spot. Joseph Amaro, in second place, had a very well balanced physique and was in condition. He just needs to continue adding more muscle mass to fill out his physique. Esteban Morales was in third place and he was competing in his first show. Esteban also needs to development which will come as his physique matures.
In the Masters Women Bodybuilding category, only Juanita Martin showed up to contend for the title but she looked incredible. At over 50 years of age, Juanita showed development and conditioning that most younger competitors could only dream of. Juanita won the Grand Masters Women Bodybuilding title as well as the Open Women Bodybuilding crown. Hopefully, she will continue to compete this year and enter the Natural Universe or Natural Olympia this year against international competition.
In the Masters Men Bodybuilding category, last year’s winner, Larry Montgomery, returned to take the title again. Larry has really improved his leg development to match his impressive upper body. In second place was Rich Feliciano who displayed great back development and good conditioning to take a strong second place. Big Kaelin Patterson was in third place and he will move up the rankings once he gets his conditioning down. In fourth place was Don Carlson who is a tremendous success story himself. Don has lost over 100 pounds and is now competing in his first bodybuilding contest. Congrats to Don and I hope he continues to compete and improve himself.
The Masters categories for Figure and Bikini were next. In the Jr Masters Figure (ages 35-39 years old), Allyson Chrystal beat out Kiki Dafnis for the win. Both competitors looked great in this division.
In the Masters Figure division, something very unique happened. Lynn McGinn entered both the Masters Figure and the Grand Masters Figure divisions. Because Lynn is over 50 years old, she can enter an age division below her own category (Figure Masters is for competitors 40-49 years old) as well as her own age category (Grand Masters Figure for 50-59 years old). Because Lynn was so dominant, she actually won BOTH categories!
In the Figure Masters, Lynn took a unanimous first place from the judges with Oksana McDowell, displaying good conditioning, in second place. Angela Wright Madison was in third place. In the Grand Masters, Lynn was the only competitor. Of course, Lynn McGinn was the Overall Figure Masters Champion. Lynn displayed excellent abdominals as well as great conditioning overall.
The Bikini Masters also featured a Jr Masters Bikini category (for competitors 35-39 years old). Heather Crews was in great shape to take first place. She was followed by Maria McCauley in second place and Sanura Young in third place.
In the Masters Bikini category, veteran competitor Tammy Prather showed noticeable improvement and convincingly won the first place trophy over Model Search winner Toni Fairley. Laurie Bryant was in third place. Tammy was very happy with her first place victory.
The Novice Men’s Bodybuilding division is always one of the most competitive in every contest. Many of these competitors were competing for the very first time and it is open only to competitors who have never won first place in a contest before.
In the Men’s Short Class in the Novice Men division, Kyle Mulligan displayed a proportionate physique with very good leg development to take first place over Andrew Keay. Joe Fortenberry was in third place in this tough division.
In the Men’s Novice Medium class, Grant Weaver was the biggest and hardest competitor in the class and he scored a unanimous decision with the judges. Grant needs to work on his posing to showcase his physique better but he has the potential to win some overall titles in the future. In second place was Daniel Caspi, who also competed in the Men’s Physique division. He was followed by Daniel Olmeda in third, Anthony Muzquiz in fourth and big Darick Ladner in fifth.
The Novice Men’s Tall Class featured the debut of the very impressive Terrence Terrell. Terrence was blessed with a great structure including a tiny waist and wide shoulders. He was the unanimous choice by the judges for first place. Second place was a tight decision between Teenage Men winner Tyler Kelly and Matt McClure. Tyler took the second place spot followed by Matt in third. Tim Black was in fourth and he just needs more size to fill out his big frame. Stephen Taylor in fifth place had the mass but he needs to diet harder for his next show.
In the Novice Men’s Overall Posedown, Tall Class winner Terrence Terrell dominated with his aesthetic structure. As Terrell adds more mass to his frame, he is going to a force to be reckoned with!
After the intermission, the audience was treated to a special presentation. The Most Inspirational Award was presented to Mr. Jesse Levine. Jesse lost his leg in a terrible car accident years ago. Jesse used this terrible accident as motivation to push himself even harder in the gym. Now, only a few months away from competing in his first Natural Bodybuilding contest, Jesse is big and thick and he will be a competitive threat in any contest he chooses to enter. The audience gave Jesse a well deserved standing ovation for his courage and perseverance that he has displayed in his life. What a great inspiration!
The Men’s Physique division was the first division after the Award Presentation to Jesse Levine. This is a relatively new division for the ABA Natural Illinois and there was some good competition this year. Tall Michael Pericht had the lean look with the great abs and perfect color to take a unanimous first place. The second place votes were split between the very ripped Aaron Kemerling and the thickly muscled Alex White. Aaron needed better color but he was definitely ripped. Alex could have done well in the Novice Bodybuilding division with his impressive muscle mass. The top three in this division were excellent. Daniel Caspi in fourth and Loren Thomas in fifth just need to be leaner to place higher in this class.
The Figure Open division was tightly contested again this year. In the Figure Open Short Class, Erica Wieder showed off great symmetry and shape to take first place. Christina Lazo also had a great physique but she needed to be leaner to capture that first place spot. Oksana McDowell did very well in the open division with her lean body and she was followed by Goshia Stephien in fourth place.
In the Figure Open Medium class, Jodi Verhel had the Figure “Look” that the judges were looking for. Muscular, lean and ripped, Jodi had the total package and looked much leaner than the competition. In second place was the muscular Stanislava Enev who was definitely ready for this show. Allyson Chrystal, the Jr. Masters Figure winner, took third place followed by Johanna Olivares in fourth and Janice Jackson in fifth place.
In the Tall Class of the Figure Open, Lynn McGinn took home her third victory of the night. Lynn was muscular and hard and she was awarded first place in this class followed by lean Kiki Dafnis in second place, the statuesque Karen Wells in third and Angela Wright Madison in fourth.
In the Overall Decision, the judges choose Medium Class winner Jodi Verhel to receive the Victory Sword. Jodi had the perfect combination of muscle development, leanness and stage presence to take home the Overall Win.
The Bikini Diva divison was the next big division to be contested. In the Short Class, Bryana Propati was in first place. Bryana had the right combination of curves and leanness without being too smooth or too lean. Her Bikini Body helped her to also win the Best Glutes award for the Women. Second place went to McMillan McCrindle who could have been leaner but she had the stage presence and confidence to place high. Stepanie Perez was in third and Brenda Lopez fourth.
In the Bikini Diva Medium Class, Team Flex competitor Amiee Lee took first place honors. Amiee had the lean look the judges were looking for so she took a unanimous win. Amiee was followed by Kasia Milon in second and Christina Sempassa in third place.
The Bikini Diva Tall Class featured close competition between two competitors. Viktorija Alexandra edged out Jr. Masters Bikini winner Heather Crews for first place but the judges were split between these two excellent athletes. For the overall decision, Viktorija Alexandra won the Victory Sword over Byanna Propati and Amiee Lee.
In the highly anticipated Men’s Open division, several excellent Natural Bodybuilders took the stage to win this title. Over the years, some of the Midwest’s Best have competed to win this coveted title and this year was no exception. In the Short Class, young Brendan Kroeger showed great potential in taking first place. Brendan has some good size so he just needs to come in harder next time to challenge for the overall title. In second place was Joe Fortenberry.
The Men’s Medium Class had two of the best Natural Bodybuilders in Illinois going head to head. Joe Perez and Larry Montgomery have faced off against each other over the last couple of years and it’s always been a close competition between them. On this occasion, Larry showed the better condition and that, along with his improved leg separation, gave him the unanimous decision. Joe has a very aesthetic physique and he continues to improve every year but he could have been harder for this show. In third place was Novice Men medium class winner Grant Weaver.
The Open Men Tall Class also featured some great competition! Thirty year old Robert Powell had the thickness and conditioning to take a unanimous first place. Robert was the biggest guy onstage and he combined that impressive size with rock hard definition, including brick like abs. In second place was Joe Myers, last year’s Men’s Open Tall Class winner. Joe was even better than last year with great conditioning but he couldn’t match Robert’s mass so he took second this time out. In third place was the Novice Men Overall Winner Terrence Terrell. Matt McClure showed great improvement in fourth place and big Stephen Taylor was fifth.
Before the Overall Posedown, the Bodypart Awards were given out. The top three competitors for each award were brought onstage to be judged live in front of the audience. For the first time at the Natural Illinois, the Women were also awarded Bodypart Awards this year. Jodi Verhel, the Overall Figure winner, won Best Abs. Lynn McGinn, the Masters Figure overall winner, won Best Legs while Bryanna Propati, the Short Class winner from the Bikini Diva division, won Best Glutes.
In the Men’s Bodypart Awards, a variety of athletes took home the awards. Best Arms went to runner up in the Men’s Open Tall Class, Joe Myers. Joe Perez, who took second place in the Men’s Open Medium Class, won Best Legs. Larry Montgomery, the Masters Men overall winner as well as the Men’s Medium Class winner, took home the Best Chest award. Rich Feliciano, second place in the Masters Men division, won Best Back. Robert Powell, the Tall Class winner in the Men’s Open, won both Best Abs and Best Poser as well as Most Muscular.
Finally, the Men’s Overall Posedown was decided between Short Class winner Brendan Kroeger, Medium Class winner Larry Montgomery and Tall Class winner Robert Powell. Robert just had to much muscle mass combined with rock hard definition to be denied the title. Last year’s Overall Men’s Open winner, Habideen Olaniran, came onstage to award Robert his Overall Victory Sword. Robert was emotional as he won his first Overall Victory!
Thanks again to all the competitors for such a great competition this year! Thanks to Kimie Arnone for all her work in organizing the competition. Thank to the expediters and judges who volunteered their time and hard work to support Natural Bodybuilding. Thanks also to the sponsors including Optimum Nutrition, Tiger P Productions, Feel Fitastic.com, Family Nutrition, Custom Body Shop and Massage Therapy by Faydra Shantel, Certified Mac Pro Catherine Chlipala, MJ Barbian with Sun Kissed by SYD, 2xtreme Fitness and R2A Photography and Video.