Could there be any more of an appropriate irony than for a competitor named Hill to win the Mile High Pro in the mountains of Golden, Colorado, at an altitude of 6,575 feet? Well, that's what went down at the Mile High Pro event on May 30th at the Green Hall Bunker Auditorium on the campus at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden as Samantha Hill took home the title.
As a second annual contest where last year's inaugural winner, Sarah Hurrle, established a starting point for the Pro Women's Physique Division at this show, a big field of 24 contestants competed at the Jeff Taylor-promoted and Dylan Armbrust-sponsored affair.
Hill Tops the Field
From Mangham, Louisiana, Samantha Hill makes for one of the most interesting, if not one the most unlikely winners of a pro Physique division events thus far. A winner of the Optimum Classic in her home state a week earlier, she added this event to claim two pro Physique victories since turning pro in 2012. The unlikely aspect of Hill's win stems from her beginnings as an amateur Bikini competitor in 2011. That year she placed 12th in her class.
Just a year later she jumped to the Physique division and won her class at the NPC USA to earn pro status. The same year she made her pro debut at the Houston Pro placing 5th in a field of six. Last year she added a tenth place finish at the Optimum Classic, and ninth at the Greater Gulf States.
Now this year she has won two WPD contests and is qualified for the Physique Olympia – quite a meteoric rise, to say the least. How high Hill climbs in this division is left to future competitions. Here she added $2,000 to her winnings at the Optimum Classic to give her some spending cash in Las Vegas.
A huge favorite at this event was hometowner Jacklyn Sutton-Abrams from Parker, Colorado. Returning to this contest after a 7th place finish in last year's contest, she had made excellent improvements that included a better balanced physique from head to toe and an eye-catching set of abs to serve as a center point to her overall look. At just a shade over 5-0 and weighing 118 pounds there looks to be better placings ahead of her.
Abrams past successes leading to her pro status came by way of the fitness division where she jumped to the pro level by virtue of a victory at the 2012 NPC Junior USA. A former track & field athlete and pro cheerleader, Abrams brings plenty of stage presence and eye appeal which will add to her ability for scoring points to earn an Olympia qualification… or better yet a victory in the near future.
Placing third was Rachel Baker from Lutherville, Maryland. With an extensive competitive background in amateur Physique division contests after competing in the Figure division in 2011, she chalked up a handful of top-three placings at national-level Physique events culminating with a victory in her class at the 2012 NPC Team Universe. Making her pro debut at the Europa Show of Champions she placed 14th. But she has rebounded well from that experience this year to place second at the Optimum Classic and third here. These placings put her in the middle of the points race to score an Olympia qualification assuming future contest results for her are in the top five.
Fourth place finisher Jill Dearmin from Hobe Sound, Florida, used this event to make a major breakthrough in her pro competitive efforts since 2012. Earning her pro status that year after winning the IFBB North American Championships, she made her pro debut at the Valenti Gold Cup finishing 8th. A year later in 2013 she competed four more times without cracking the top ten in any of those shows. Kicking off the 2014 season, Dearmin placed 8th at the St. Louis Pro before edging into the top five of this event.
Colorado scored another top-five placing when Marina Lopez of Aurora snapped up the fifth place spot. Earning her pro status in 2010 when she won the lightweight class of the NPC Nationals, she became a rabid competitor in the Physique division with the coming of 2012. Lopez competed in the inaugural Desert Muscle Classic (placing 7th) and entered a total of eight times that year placing as high as 4th at the California Governor’s Cup. She competed three more times in 2013 without reaching the top five. Not a problem for Lopez. She began the 2014 season by placing 8th at the Optimum Classic (where she deserved a much better placement) and placed 5th here in her 13th Pro Physique Division contest. She'll be back.
From Six to Ten
6- Jessica Gaines, Texas
7- Danielle Mastromatteo, California
8- Rita Rae, New Mexico
9- Carrie Simmons, California
10- Anne-Marie Kam, Oregon
There is a distinct difference in 'playing favorites' and having 'sentimental favorites' and at the Mile High show two women – Drorit Silverman and Stacy Simons McDowell – finished in a dead heat as the sentimental favorites. How could they not? Okay, both missed placing in the top 15. So what? Here's what to love about these two.
Drorit Silverman (and if you've been following women's bodybuilding since the late 80's you'll remember her as Drorit Kernes), earned her pro card (when you REALLY had to earn it) winning the middleweight and overall titles at the 1992 NPC Nationals, and in her best year as a pro she won the Czech Grand Prix in Prague, finished second at the Jan Tana Classic and ended the year with a seventh place finish at the Ms. Olympia.
That was in 1994… the same year she stepped away from the competitive stage. But as is many times the case, she regained the 'urge to re-emerge', and in 2011 she placed 8th at the Tampa Pro Bodybuilding Championships in stunningly chiseled condition. Seventeen years between contests is a lifetime for most. But upon returning she has competed each year since 2011, and while her placings miss setting the world on fire... so what? In those 17 years Drorit has raised four daughters – three of which are triplets. Her love of competing remains. At this contest Drorit placed 16th... so what! Is she past 40? Yep. So what!
As for Stacy Simons McDowell, she doesn't have the longevity of Drorit Silverman, but what she has accomplished in her competitive career can be admired by anyone who has had the experience of being on stage. Stacy began her competitive efforts in the late 90's and turned pro by winning the 1997 NPC National Fitness Championships. Since then all she has done is compete in 10 Ms. Olympias...TEN!
She has also competed in six Fitness Internationals, and won two Hungarian Grand Prix events along the way. Her contest resume is a long as your arm. Her highest placing at the Olympia was 8th and most of the years she was outside the top ten. So what? Last year Stacy switched to the Physique division and competed three times – never cracking the top 15. So she's back in 2014 at this event, outside the top 15. So what!
With these two jewels you begin to understand the meaning 'for the love of sport'. For them, placings mean little. As for me, I hold the highest level of respect for their presence – I did way back when… and I still do today.