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Team MD'S #1 CONTEST COVERAGE
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With a show this big and with so many excellent physiques all battling for that same winner's spot, it was inevitable that there would be some surprising decisions, and some feelings would get hurt. This being a sport that in the end is totally subjective and really just a matter of opinion, in the end only the winners and their friends and families are ever truly satisfied with the outcome.

Women's lightweight

Here's a prime example of a class where I had the results quite different from the judges. I thought it was between Barbara Fletcher and Kirstyn Haratyk for the win, but it actually went to the only woman competing who I actually know, New Hampshire's Lori Steele. Lori pulled it off with very balanced overall development and great condition. Congrats to her on earning pro status.

Women's middleweight

I thought this one was a coin toss between Janet Kaufmann and Lisette Acevedo. Both would have made great pro's. Janet carried more size and had better color and presentation, but Lisette did have the superior shape and structure. Lisette got the nod and the IFBB Pro card.

Women's light-heavyweight

Runner-up LaDawn Toniko McDay had a very dramatic V-taper thanks to her wide back and shoulders, and also happened to have a little bit of the Tyra Banks look going in her face. Winner Nicole Berg was also a striking woman, and her shape and symmetry were enough to take this very large and competitive class.

Women's heavyweight

I and many others thought Amber DeFrancesco had this class locked up after this morning's prejudging, but the strong opposition she faced from Kris Murrell, who was also an excellent poser, apparently proved to be too much. Once I paid more attention to Kris tonight, I realized she was probably the more obvious choice. Amber's condition seemed to have faded from this morning, and I would be curious to know how close the two had been leading into the night show, to find out if that made the difference.

Women's Overall

In what had to be a tough choice for the judges to choose between four very worthy class winners, Kris Murrell became the Overall NPC National Champion.

Men's bantamweight

No surprise here, as Hany Rambod created another pro in the form of Oregon's Bleu Taylor. Though runner-up Chris Darby had more mass, Bleu had the structure and shape to beat him.

Men's lightweight

In the lights, I thought the excellent mass, shape and structure of Puerto Rico's Luis Santa would take him to a pro card. But it turned out to be Joe Vu of Texas with his crazy quads and crisp, clean muscle separation who got the nod from the judges. This is a man who has a longer, leaner look but seems to grow when he hits his poses.

Men's welterweight

Dr. Victor Prisk used his excellent upper body development and shredded condition to carry him all the way to second place out of 26 welters, and also wowed the crowd with some stunning displays of strength from his days as a national gymnastics champion. A little more leg development and this orthopedic surgeon from Pittsburgh can add "IFBB Pro" to the M.D. on the end of his name. But as predicted after last night's judging, Hawaii's Shavis Higa followed up his previous USA wins as a bantamweight and lightweight with a middleweight victory here. With his shape and excellent legs, Shavis could successfully jump into the 202's a year from now.

Men's middleweight

Puerto Rico's Ronald Torres, now living in Texas, is future pro in the making, whose size and classical shape reminded me a lot of another great Latin bodybuilder, Lee Labrada. His coach George Farah confided to me that a bout with the flu earlier in the week took away some of his condition. That didn't explain his lack of proper contest color. Darker color and perfect condition next time, and I don't see too many people out there capable of beating him in this class. The standout from last night's judging in this class was Washington's Nathan DeTracy, and he most likely won with all first place votes. The man had great back and leg development and crazy striations all over.

Men's lightheavyweight

As I figured from last night's judging, Branden Ray's lack of sharp condition from the back big-time, and the two-time runner up at this class at the USA and Nationals was knocked down to fourth here. I have a suspicion he knew it after last night, because his smooth look tonight leads me to believe he may have been chowing down all day today. He looked to have put on at least five pounds of water under the skin if not closer to ten. Tamer El-Guindy went from first at the USA to third here, and it was simply a matter of tougher competition. Tamer knows he needs more arms and chest to match his enormous shoulders before he is ready for the pro ranks. The runner-up was Orlando, Florida's Al Auguste, who is another easy bet for future pro status. He really has it all: size, shape, and only needed a little more leg development and slightly drier condition to graduate out of the NPC and into the IFBB. The class went to MD's own Seth Feroce, in his Nationals debut after starting to compete only in the spring of this year. He also happened to be celebrating his 25th birthday today, so how's that for a present? Congrats to Seth and his coach, Hany Rambod on a job well done. Seth was thick, had muscle maturity beyond his years, and was shredded to the bone.

Men's heavyweight

Special mention should be made to fourth place finisher P.D. Devers, who literally brought the house down with a high-energy posing routine with plenty of hip-hop dance moves. I haven't seen a crowd so entertained by a routine since Kai's at the Arnold back in March. Third place finisher Fred Smalls needs only to get harder next time and I can see him going pro. The top two came down to Lee Banks, who has already missed winning his class at three pro qualifiers in a row. I learned that he would have been eight pounds heavier had he too not fallen victim to the flu a week ago. I still thought he was good enough, given the circumstances, to win the class, though I could also see New Jersey's Jeff Long pushing him hard with legs that blew Lee's away by a mile, and slightly better condition. The judges went with Jeff Long, and though Lee Banks was devastated, I didn't hear much argument from the crowd with this call. With better legs, Banks probably would be a pro right now.

Men's superheavyweight

Anyone at last night's judging knew that Cedric McMillan, last year's Junior USA champ, had this class by a wide margin. Again, I would bet money he won it with unanimous first place votes. Towering over most of the others at 6-1, he had so much round, full muscle set off by tiny joints and a waist as small as most of the middleweights that he was an easy pick. Even runner-up Robert Burneika, one of the freakiest mass monsters I have seen in the amateur ranks in years, never had a chance.

Men's Overall

When the seven class winners lined up, Cedric McMillan stood out as the man who is likely to go on to be the best pro, which is really how the Overall Champion is selected. At only 255 pounds right now, Cedric has the big frame to fill out with at least another 15-20 pounds and has all the markings of a man who will be a top pro in the coming years.

Congratulations to all 520 athletes who worked so hard to be here this weekend in Florida. It was a great end to the 2009 amateur season, and they should all be proud to have stood up there with the very best in our great nation