As the third of four pro WPD events scheduled after this year's Physique Olympia, Jon Lindsay's Ultimate Warriors event was staged at the Scottish Rite Event Center in San Diego on November 1st. These events have given competitors the opportunity to take an early shot at qualifying for the 2015 Physique Olympia eliminating the time, expense and stress of having to enter additional contests that will run until next year's Olympia date in September. So far, Tamee Marie and Teresita Morales have punched their tickets to next year's 'O' with their October victories, joining the top five finishers from the recent Olympia won by Juliana Malacarne.
Unlike the Europa Phoenix Pro event a week earlier that drew 32 contestants in the pro Physique division, the Ultimate Warriors enjoyed a cozy WPD field of 10 that was joined with a large NPC competition. Of the ten competitors, five had competed at the Phoenix pro contest and all landed higher placings for their decision to do back-to-back contests.
With the first call-out including Heather Grace, Candrea Judd-Adams and Leonie Rose, followed by the second call with the trio of Marnie Holley, Jodi Marchuck and Katerina Kyptova, the race was on for the important top five placings.
By The Grace of Heather
The best example of improving on a placing from the Phoenix Pro was Heather Grace. Her runner-up at that event was a preamble to her showing in San Diego as she took a unanimous victory back to Colorado. The 2014 year has been a successful one for Grace as she scored her first pro WPD win at the Tampa Pro to qualify for her eventual 14th place finish at the Olympia to go with a pair of third place finishes at the Golden State Pro and San Jose Pro.
The Ultimate Warriors contest was her sixth of the year, and seeing that she has a runner-up placing and the Ultimate warriors victory already in the new season, she's off to a flying start. The niche she has found in the Physique division was borne out of her beginnings in the Figure division after earning her pro status at the 2011 NPC Junior USA. She was also a winner at the prestigious 2010 NPC Emerald Cup. As a pro Figure competitor, however, her progress had stalled with less than desirable placings outside the top ten in 2012. Passing on competitions in 2013, she has returned this year with a new lease on the competitive scene in the Physique division. Now she's set for another trip to the Olympia. In winning the Ultimate Warriors contest she also earned $2,000 in prize money, and the distinctive Excalibur sword as the winner's trophy.
Have Contest, Will Travel
Chasing Heather Grace in the final contest tallies, Georgia's Candrea Judd-Adams landed the runner-up placing, and her entrance at this event also included an element of significance. You see, Adams loves to compete – often. The Ultimate Warriors contest was her eighth contest entry in 2014. Keeping in mind she lives in Georgia, Adams has competed in California three times, Louisiana twice, and Florida, Colorado and Arizona once each. And as a reward for her perseverance, her best placing of the year came at this event giving her four points towards the Olympia Qualification Series and a good start towards the 2015 contest WPD schedule. She also pocketed $1,000 for her second place finish.
A Rose By Any Other Name
Finishing third was Leonie Rose. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Rose has made consistent improvements in her physique as time has passed since turning pro at the 2012 NPC Masters Nationals; Rose saw her 2014 season make a big jump in the right direction. Placing 17th at the St. Louis Pro to begin the year she has come a long way and her third place finish here is a favorable start to begin the 2015 competitive season.
In her three additional contests efforts in 2014 she added a third at the Show of Champions, fourth at the Optimum Classic and ninth at the Greater Gulf States. In addition to picking up three points in the Olympia Point Series for 2015, she also accepted third place prize money totaling $500.
The Rollercoaster Ride of Placers 4, 5, 6 and 7
For placers in the 4-5-6 and 7 spots their collective ride has been a wild one over the past few contests. Each has a slightly different story, but all have seen both a dramatic shift in their placements from contest to contest. In fourth was Marnie Holley. Competing in just her fourth pro Physique division event, her finish here was much more palatable than the tie for 17th she experienced at the Phoenix Pro just a week earlier. An all-around athlete and former Canadian National Fitness champion in 2007, Holley's best previous pro Physique finish was last year when she placed fifth at the Tampa Pro. Her other result in 2013 was a 16th place finish at the Europa Supershow in Dallas. This year she began the season with an 11th place spot at the St. Louis Pro, but the Phoenix Pro event she hit rock bottom. So her fourth at this event helped save her competitions for this calendar year.
Right on Holley's tail was Californian Jodi Marchuck. Making her pro debut this year, the former Brooklynite claimed a pair of sixth place finishes to help her get off to a strong start. But like Holley, she too suffered the axe in Phoenix dropping to tie for 17th. A week later here in San Diego she jettisoned up to a fifth place spot to reach her best placing as a pro Physique competitor.
At 5’3”3, 129 pounds, Marchuck showed a well-balanced overall physique, but gave away two inches in height and 16 pounds of bodyweight to Marnie Holley. Although the two were only one point apart in the final scoring, Holley's better level of conditioning looked to be the deciding factor as these two claimed the final available point towards next year's Olympia.
Finishing in the next two places respectively were Brazilian Loana Muttoni in sixth and Czech standout Katerina Kyptova in seventh. Several observers saw these two competitors as viable top five finishers, but both were also riding the same rollercoaster of finishes in recent events. At 5’2 1/4” and 136 pounds, Muttoni shows excellent conditioning and a beautifully balanced overall physique. Competing in three straight events, Muttoni finished fifth at the Titans Grand Prix, then tied for 17th at the Phoenix Pro and completed the triad with a sixth place spot at this event. Hence the rollercoaster effect.
At 5’6”, Katerina Kyptova is a quintessential example of a very good Physique competitor. Possessing the best, most beautifully developed calves in the pro Physique division, they serve as the perfect counterbalance to her broad shoulders. Originally called out in the second group of competitors, she somehow slipped to seventh although her posing routine was one of the best of the evening. Like Muttoni, Kyptova competed in three straight contests placing second at the Titans Grand Prix, followed by a plummet to 17th at the Phoenix Pro, then finishing seventh here while trailing Muttoni by a three-point margin. Clearly, Muttoni and Kyptova have better placements in their futures as long as they can meet the challenge of travel issues from their home countries and the expense involved. Both are excellent additions to any pro Physique lineup.
Packed neatly in a six-point margin of each other was 8th placer Claire O'Connell, Texan Vicki Diaz in 9th, and Gillian Ward 10th. At 5’0” and the shortest competitor of this event, O'Connell was also the veteran competitor here having just celebrated her 48th birthday last month. O'Connell, who has been a competitive bodybuilder since she was almost 16, was both the NPC Teen USA and Nationals champion in 1987. She followed that years later by winning the lightweight class of the NPC USA in 2010 and earned her long-awaited pro status by winning the overall Masters crown at the 2010 IFBB North American Championships. O'Connell competed in her first contest in 1982, so she has seen considerable changes in the sport over the years. The Physique division has re-ignited her interest in competing.
Texan Vicki Diaz was making her pro debut at the Ultimate Warriors event after spending two years competing very well at the amateur level in the NPC. This year Diaz entered three Physique classes at the NPC Universe placing fifth in the Open, third in the Over-40 and first in the Over-35 class where she earned her pro status. At this event she showed a highly conditioned overall physique, and will do well as she fills out her frame with added muscle weight.
Gillian Ward was the rookie of this event (making her pro debut) having streaked to the pro level in just three competitions as an amateur. Ward began earlier in the year by winning the NPC North Carolina overall Physique title, then placed eighth at the NPC Junior USA. But she bounced back to win her class in both the Open and Masters Physique divisions at the IFBB North American Championships to earn her pro card. A former world class Crossfit competitor (Gillian Mounsey), as well as an accomplished powerlifter who also tried out for the US Olympic Bobsled team in 2012, she's only just getting started as a pro Physique competitor. With a continued 'learning the ropes' in her contest prep and dieting, she will display an excellent structure – complemented by her well-shaped muscle groups – that will pull her upwards from 10th place finishes in the coming year.
By The Numbers
1- Heather Grace, Colorado 3
2- Candrea Judd-Adams, Georgia 6
3- Leonie Rose, Florida 9
4- Marnie Holley, Canada 13
5- Jodi Marchuck, California 14
6- Loana Muttoni, Brazil 18
7- Katerina Kyptova, Czech Republic 21
8- Claire O'Connell, California 24
9- Vicki Diaz, Texas 27
10- Gillian Ward, North Carolina 30