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2009 Men's Prejudging Write up by Ron Harris

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  • 2009 Men's Prejudging Write up by Ron Harris

    2009 NPC Nationals Men’s Prejudging

    This was my first NPC Nationals since I started working in this industry back in 1991, and I always knew the year-end show was a monster – packed in terms of both sheer quantity as well as quantity of competitors. Some of the best pro’s of the last twenty years have been past NPC Nationals champs: Lee Haney, Shawn Ray, Vince Taylor, Kevin Levrone, Jay Cutler, and Branch Warren. Even the rookie pro of the year, MD’s own Evan Centopani earned his stripes here two years ago. It’s the only show in the NPC where every single class winner becomes eligible for pro status, so it draws legions of the country’s best physique competitors every fall. Now that there is a 202 division in the IFBB, there is even further incentive for guys from the lighter weight classes to come out to the Nationals and give it their best shot. Though as I said I don’t have much to compare it to being my first time here, I do know that the level of competition I saw tonight in each and every weight class was top-notch. Whoever wins any of these divisions tomorrow night will most definitely belong in the pro ranks either in the Open or as a 202.

    Bantamweight
    The lightest class came down to two men, Oregon’s Bleau Taylor and Chris Darby from Texas. Taylor had a superior structure with a dramatic shoulder to waist ratio, but Darby had more muscle density and deep separation. Could go either way.


    Lightweight
    In the lightweights, Puerto Rico’s Luis Santiago (yes, Puerto Rico is technically part of the USA) had an overall round, full look to his physique and good separation between thicky developed muscle groups. Other standouts were Joe Vu from Texas with killer wheels and flowing lines, and Travis Rogers, who had more arm mass than you would expect from a 155-pounder. Brooklyn’s Will Francois also carried a lot of mass on his frame for his height. Nobody really dominated, but it looked to me like Santiago is probably going to take this class.

    Welterweight
    The welters were the first class where one man clearly stood out from the pack, and his name is Shavis Higa. The Hawaiian native has won his class at the USA before as a bantamweight and then a lightweight, but now that he’s up to 164 pounds his shape and symmetry truly shine. He was also dialed into perfect condition, and looks to me like he could successfully jump right into the 202’s next year – he’s that complete. His legs are especially impressive. The only man I saw giving him a real run for this class was Victor Delcampo from Pennsylvania, who packed a ton of thick muscle on a short frame and was also in very good condition. Shavis was sharper, and had better shape and structure. I bet a box of PlasmaJet Higa gets his pro card tomorrow night.

    Middleweight
    The middles must have given the judges a real headache. At 38 men, it was the biggest class in the show, and there were several very good physiques that all had their own particular strengths. Texan Ronald Torres had the best overall blend of size and shape, but his condition was not 100%. Washington’s Nathan Detracy, on the other hand, was freaking shredded. He had crazy details in the quads, hams, glutes, and even the hip flexors that nobody else did. His back was also ruggedly built and had more lumps and bumps than the Rocky Mountains. I would not want to have to pick the winner out of Ronald and Nathan. Also from Washington, Dr. Todd Scott was in the mix with insane condition and a very balanced physique with no weak points.


    Lightheavyweight
    Ever since the USA back in July, this class was supposed to be a rematch between bitter rivals, and ironically enough, both clients of Hany Rambod, MD’s own Branden Ray and the man who edged him out at USA for the win, Tamer “Razor” El-Guindy. To my eyes, neither one is probably going to win this class. The two surprises turned out to be first-timer and Team MD athlete Seth Feroce, just 24 years old but totally shredded, dry, and grainy with tons of muscle and flowing lines. The only man I see giving him trouble is Florida’s Al Auguste, who has a rounder, fuller look to his upper body (Seth’s legs are the best in the class hands down). Tamer looked very good, but from the photos of the USA I saw, his condition was a tad sharper there. He also needs to bring up his arms, because right now his giant melon delts totally overpower them as well as make his chest look on the flat side. As for Branden Ray, from the front, he won the class or at least would have pushed Seth and Al very hard. Probably would have won, I suppose. His shape is amazing and he looked rock-hard. When he turned around, his back, glutes and hams just weren’t tight enough. I hate to say it because he’s a very cool guy, but I have a feeling B-Ray is still going to be looking for a pro card after this weekend.

    Heavyweight
    The man to watch out for here was supposed to be Lee Banks, who came close to beating MD’s Mark Alvisi back at the USA. The Florida native did look great again, but so did Jeff Long and Fred Smalls. New Jersey’s Long, who I believe is only 24 years old, was a real surprise as his condition was the best in this division – and Jeff had shown up at his first couple attempts at a pro card in pretty average condition. I don’t think anyone expected him to look this good. His glutes were ridged like damn Ruffles potato chips. Fred Smalls is a thick guy and has nice round shape to his muscles. Had he been in better shape, he could have beaten them all in my opinion. His chest was the thickest in the whole show. P.D. Devers from San Diego, a veteran of the national stage, was the best I’ve ever seen him and should make top four. But my money is on Banks. His condition was quite good, and he’s going into this show after having been runner up twice in a row.


    Superheavyweight
    For the past few weeks we have seen a lot of hype about two formidable supers, new Team MD member Trey Brewer, and Cedric McMillan. Cedric had tons of size, great shape, was in condition, and also happens to be a very professional poser who hits each
    shot with his own sense of style. He’s a pretty easy pick for the super win. Giant Lithuanian Robert Burneika, he of the 23-inch arms and dinosaur legs, was in surprising good condition and had tightened up his midsection since the USA. Abbas Khatami was
    the most shredded man in this class by far, and at 235 one of the lightest (he’s only 5-8). His arms still don’t match the rest of him. At 278, Big Sean Allen was the heaviest man as well as the tallest. Working now with George Farah, he was also in the best condition he’s ever shown. Add that up with improved legs, and BSA has moved up into at least the top six if not top five. New Jersey’s Drew Jemmott had incredible mass and shape, with huge arms and the smallest waist by far out of this class. His front double biceps pose was particularly freaky due to his exaggerated taper. But his condition wasn’t quite there. Kirk DeFrancisco had a good blend of size and shape too, but didn’t compare to the very top men in terms of mass. Trey Brewer was in the second callout. His back is much better than ever, and his condition was up there too, but he still needs to fill out his chest, shoulders and arms to really fill out his big frame. Another precontest favorite and also another very young guy, Steve Kuclo, was overdieted and flat. I know he can be much bigger and better than this.

    Some of these classes are a done deal, while others will be interesting to see who the judges go with. We’ll know tomorrow night!

  • #2
    Long,Feroce and Big Bad Cedric for the whole thing!

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    • #3
      Good rundown Ron, thanks

      Comment


      • #4
        That was great! It's easier to read than go back through several pages to see what you missed.

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