If you're a fan of underdogs in the sports world, then you have to love Candrea Judd Adams' victory at the Spartan Pro Physique contest held at the Scottish Rite Event Center in San Diego on May 2nd, 2015. On this day she hit paydirt winning in a field of 11 competitors from eight states. Like others who aspire to be the best, her story is not one of an overnight success, far from it. But she persevered and her efforts have now come to fruition - albeit by a circuitous route that has had her running across the country entering contests at a blistering rate.
Adams' story took roots in 2000 when she won the NPC Georgia as a Bodybuilder. Fast forward 12 years to 2012 when she earned her Pro card by winning her class in the Physique division at the NPC Team Universe. But the journey she has led in her relatively short time in the pro ranks has not been what anyone would consider a walk in the park. Competing five times in 2013 leading off with a pro debut at the Show of Champions, she found herself tied for 16th. She did, however finish sixth at the Titans Grand Prix at the end of the year.
As a military retiree and not one to back down from a challenge, those five contests in 2013 were only an entree for the coming of 2014 where she wore out mapquest in her pursuit of Physique contests that would guide her to a goal of making it to the Physique Olympia stage.
For most competitors that endure the rigorous preparations that go into entering a Physique competition, four of five contests is considered a heavy load over the course of a calendar year. Not for Candrea Judd-Adams. She had that experience in 2013 and it did nothing more than make her hungry for 2014. So, last year she entered NINE contests (the LA Grand Prix, the Golden State Pro, the Optimum Classic, the Mile High Classic, the Greater Gulf States, the Titans Grand Prix, the Phoenix Pro, the Ultimate Warrior Pro, and the Ferrigno Legacy Pro. She was like a Schnauzer on a pant leg. But a funny things happened along the way......she caught fire at the Ultimate Warrior and Legacy Pro events at the end of the year placing second at both after a season of mid-range placings over the prior nine months. Most notably, those two runner-up finishes counted towards 2015 and set her up with valuable points towards qualification for the 2015 Physique Olympia. The 2014 season for Judd-Adams became one for the books. Keeping in mind she lives in Jonesboro, Georgia, she traveled to Florida once, Colorado once, Louisiana twice and California five times only to miss out on qualifying for the big trip to Las Vegas and the Olympia. So, with the first event on the 2015 contest schedule showing St. Louis as the destination, she was off again. It turned out to be a speed bump as she finished ninth. Not to worry, next up was the Spartan Pro - a shiny new contest in sunny San Diego. It turned out to be an Adams moment. It would be the sight of her first pro victory and she was now qualified for the Physique Olympia later in the year, and there was no more need to worry about qualification points any longer. No word on whether she'll consider entering seven more contests between now and September! Distributing 146 pounds on her 5-7 frame, and using her broad shoulders, waspy waistline and long, well-detailed legs as a framework to out flex the rest of the field, she earned $2,000 in winning prize money. It's also probable that she gained an added measure of confidence in knowing that two competitors at this event had competed at last year's Physique Olympia. The only question remaining now is what this spirited 46 year-old will do with all her spare time between now and the flight to Las Vegas in September!
Finishing second to Adams was Florida's Leonie Rose. Like Adams, Rose was no shrinking Violet when it came to contest entries in the past. In 2014 Rose entered six contests that included two trips to California. Along the way she experience the highs and lows placing 18th in St. Louis, but also notched a pair of third-place finishes at the Show of Champions in Orlando and the Ultimate Warrior in California. The points she accrued during the year fell short of her making it to the Olympia, but now she's solidly on the points board and headed to a possible Olympia qualification. At 5-6 3/4, and distributing 155 pounds on a frame that handles that body weight well. Her conditioning level fit her physique, and there would not have been even one member of the audience that could have guessed she was 48 years of age. Truly remarkable. With a host of contests between now and September, Leonie Rose will be in the mix either as a contest winner or as a high point scorer. Her runner-up finish earned her $1,000 and four Olympia qualifying points.
At 5-1, California's Erica Blockman was one of four competitors at that height in this contest, and she carried her 115-pound body weight with well-shaped muscularity and a proportionate overall look. Her stage presence was sound, and she displayed all her strengths with confidence - as could be expected of this feisty Physique pro. With three years of past experience as a Figure competitor before switching to Physique events, Blockman turned pro after winning the overall 2013 NPC Junior Nationals. And her progression into the pro ranks has been seamless. She was sixth in her debut at the 2013 Europa Supershow in Dallas, and last year added a fourth at that same event as well as a third at the Emerald Cup Pro. Her consistency in placings will be a strong suit for her as she progresses at the pro level. A firefighter, Blockman's past athletic involvement in gymnastics, track & field and wrestling (on the boys HS team) made a considerable contribution to what is now a very well-balanced physique that can be competitive at any pro-level event. For her efforts here she pocketed $500 in prize money.
Just about every contest you will attend, you'll find in a lineup someone who really stands out. There is a presence about them. It's an intangible thing, but it's unmistakable. At this event fourth-placer Jacklyn Abrams projected that magic. She happened to be contestant number 1 in the lineup and she was a laser beam when it came to stage presence. A total visual package. And all of that wasn't really unusual considering she had been 12th at the Physique Olympia last year. Only here she was a better version of herself. With a great suit selection, nice skin tone and spot on conditioning, her 5-1, 120-pound frame was pleasing to the eye. Her presence displaced the need to consider where she would finish by a judging panel's decision, it didn't matter. She unwittingly became the 'IT' girl. Last year prior to the Olympia, Abrams was the runner-up at the Mile High Pro along with a third-place finish at the Omaha Pro. This year her desire to return to the 'big show' looks very favorable based on her look in this first event of the season, and with her experience as a pro cheerleader she'll likely pull her fan following along with her. A place on the Olympia stage later this year would seem highly likely. In any case, for her fourth-place finish she picked up two points towards Olympia qualification.
Fifth-placed LaDrissa Bonivel along with Jacklyn Abrams were considered pre-contest favorites due to their prior appearances at last year's Olympia, so finishing in the top five was no great surprise in an event with 11 competitors. In Bonivel's case, the 5-7, 150-pound former NPC USA Physique class winner in 2011, she was dusting off the chassis at this event to begin her 2015 campaign in an effort to return to the Olympia. Short of her overall look that saw her place seventh at the Olympia last year, Bonivel needs only to tighten down her conditioning a notch to assume Olympia-level stature once again. This Spartan pro event could be considered her warm-up, but it didn't take much to see that all the structural qualities and muscle shapes are right there waiting to be uncovered. So, count on it will happen soon.
Just outside the top five and only three points behind LaDrissa Bonivel was San Diegan Susan Salazar. Distributing 128 pounds of quality muscle on her 5-1 frame, Salazar is a USPA Strength Coach Practitioner and world class powerlifter in her weight class. Her sixth-place finish here matched the same strong placing she achieved at last year's big Phoenix Pro. With more muscular detail overall, she can move up in the placings at a future event this year.
1- Candrea Judd Adams, Jonesboro, Georgia 3
2- Leonie Rose, Hollywood, Florida 6
3- Erica Blockman, Mt. Shasta, California 9
4- Jacklyn Abrams, Aurora, Colorado 12
5- La'Drissa Bonivel, Chicago, Illinois 15
6- Susan Salazar, San Diego, California 18
7- Danielle Mastromatteo, Villa Park, California 21
8- Tonya Hooker, Fresno, California 24
9- Erika Laine, Helena, Montana 28
10- Marnie Winn, Murray, Utah 30
11- Tammy Patnode, Lake Placid, New York 32