This weekend over 250 NPC competitors will take the stage at the California Championships. Also competing this weekend will be 16 IFBB Figure Pros. The Figure competition may actually be more enjoyable to follow this weekend than most. There are no “big names” in the line up which makes it a wide open event for who will leave victorious. As always here on Hardbody, we break down the field and give you a little insight on what you might expect to see on Saturday’s event. The action gets started at 10am and our West Coast correspondent, Ron Avidan will be there covering the action.
THE HARDBODY 411
2012 IFBB California Pro Figure:
1. Julia Aragon - Julia will look to move up into the top 10 for the first time. She was 15th at the 2010 Border States but improved her physique from her NPC USA win, earlier that year. Would like to see her take the stage with more confidence and enjoy the moment. She has a balanced physique and will hold her own here. View photos.
2. Meredith Berthelson - Meredith has taken her time to refine her physique and it’s paid off. She place 12th at the 2007 NPC USA and since that showing she collected a few finishes, none lower than 4th. She made her pro debut at the 2011 Toronto Pro and finished 6th. We’ll have to wait and see what she brings to the stage this year but she could be one in the mix for a top 5 spot. View pics.
3. Jami DeBernard - Jami is the only woman in the line-up qualified for the 2012 Olympia. Since turning pro at the 2011 NPC USA Championships, Jami has competed in 8 shows. Outside of last year’s Olympia, she has never finished lower than 5th. The one thing she has yet to achieve in her relatively short pro career is a first place finish. She’s been the brides-maid in two shows and heads into this weekend’s show looking for the win. On paper she may be the favorite however it won’t be an easy victory. View pics.
4. Meriza DeGuzman-Ciccone - Meriza’s placings have been like a roller coaster. She’s finished as high as third but that was in 2009 (the Houston Pro & Europa Supershow). She was 9th at this show last year and was 8th at the 2011 Border States. So which Meriza will show up? We’ll have to wait and see on Saturday. View pics.
5. Monica Mark-Escalante - Monica has tremendous potential but we have yet to see her reach it to its fullest in the Pro ranks. Since turning pro we’ve seen her come in soft and we’ve seen her bring a rock hard physique. She has the structure and muscle to be a top contender here but it will come down to how she dials it in. If she’s too soft it’s not a good look on her frame. If she is too hard the judges mark her down. She was fifth at this show last year but we’ll have to see what this former tennis standout brings to the Cal court this year. View pics.
6. Wendy Fortino - Wendy made her pro debut earlier this year at the IFBB Governor’s Cup where she finished 7th. She has a chance to crack the top five here but will have to bring a tighter booty without coming in too hard. Easy enough, right? It’s often balancing act of bringing in a tight lower body without being too muscular and hard in the shoulders. If she can find the balance she brought to the NPC USAs, where she turned pro, she’ll be in the hunt. View pics.
7. Allison Frahn - Allison was third at this year’s Governor’s Cup but fell to 9th last weekend at the New York Pro. She’ll have to tone down the vascularity and not come in too hard to be in the top spots. Look for her to be compared in the first two call-outs. View pics.
8. Charmayne Jackson - Since turning pro at the 2010 Team Universe, her highest finish has been 8th. Charmayne needs to a bit more size and fill out on her upper body to match her lower body. If she’s done that she’ll move up but if we see a similar physique to the prior shows, she’ll be in the 9-12 range of placings. View pics.
9. Anna Larsson - Anna is a seasoned veteran of the Figure stage. We’ve seen her on and off the pro stage since 2005. She’s been as high as 4th and in the dreaded tied for 16th. Anna will have to find a balance of not coming in to hard like the earlier years of competing as a pro but not too soft like her last showings. She was at the bottom of the pack last year at this show and competed as Anna Johnson. View pics.
10. Julie Mayer-Hyman - Julie was 10th in her IFBB Pro debut earlier this year and will look to move up in the top ten. She has a nice physique and if she can improve her posing she’ll hold her own. This will be her second pro show since making it into the big leagues at the 2011 NPC Nationals. View pics.
11. Tamara Montoya - Tamara is my dark horse to shake things up at this show. She flew under the radar heading into the Pittsburgh Pro (her pro debut) earlier this month but after her 5th place finish, she’s no longer off the map. The look she brought to the PA show was on point and she has great structure. If she brings in a slightly tighter lower half look for her in the mix for the win. View pics.
12. Olga Maria Morales Gallardo - Olga won not only her class but also the overall title at the 2012 Arnold Amateur. She calls Mexico home and this will be her IFBB Pro debut. Olga has big capped delts and I’d like to see a change in her makeup. It’s great to see competitors for other countries compete in the States. View pics.
13. Katherynne Ramirez - Kat Ramirez has good energy about her and when she takes the stage you want to see her do well. She was in the bottom of the line-up at last week’s New York Pro so she can only move up in the placings. Kat will need to bring in a tighter lower half to crack the top ten here. View pics.
14. Kimberly Sheppard - Kim continues to improve from show to show. While some women fade after one show, Kim gets better. She was 11th at the Pittsburgh pro and finished 4th at the Optimum Classic earlier this month. If she continues down this path look for her to add another top 5 finish to her competitive resume. View pics.
15. Kristi Tauti - This will be Kristi’s second show back since having a baby and look for her to finish higher than her first time back. She was 6th at the Optimum Pro and look for her to be in the top five this time around. Kristi is another woman who is always smiling and you can’t help but be drawn to her positive energy on stage. View pics.
16. Natalie Waples - The lone Canadian in the lineup, Natalie will do her country proud. She brought a smaller, tight and toned physique to the Orlando Pro that earned her a 7th place finish. If she brings a similar look to this stage look for her in the top five. It may have been her best overall look to date in terms of hair, makeup and suit. A bit tighter in the glutes from Orlando and she’ll be a contender. View pics.
Follow call-outs and updates on twitter by using the hashtag #CALPRO.
Event Location: Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, 4117 Overland Avenue, Culver City, CA
Prejudging: Saturday, May 26th at 10:00am
Finals: Saturday, May 26th at 6:30pm
More info: www.musclecontest.com