2007 NPC Washington Ironman Championships Wonnder From Down Under Ends Up On Top
By Mark Mason
Overall Washington Ironman winner AJ Moore traveled an unlikely route. Born and bread in the USA he started his competitive career a few years back while living in the Land Down Under. He triumphantly returned to the USA after capturing the overall at the Australian Championships. The all-natural Moore began this year by winning his weight class at the Oregon State Championships, the overall at the Northern Classic and cumulating his victories by winning the much sought after Washington Ironman title.
Moore has one of the most startling physiques to come out of the northwest in recent years. Deep muscle bellies accent his sweeping lines and his dramatic muscularity. With continued training and the correct diet Moore could be an upshot on the national scene.
Another 2007 success story is that of Janet Guenther. The fiftysomething bodybuilding phenomenon has taken on and defeated all challengers this season. Be they masters or open women Guenther has shown what a lifetime of training and nutrition can do for a person. Never mind that she is a diabetic and has to take daily insulin injections. Janet’s inspirational path has been rewarded not only on-stage but also off-stage as she is one of the most well liked competitors in the area.
The Ironman figure divisions attached more then forty competitors in five classes. Persistence and patience finally paid off for overall winner Renee Lirette. After several years of near misses Lirette came out on top in a big way. She defeated some great physiques throughout the night.
One being newbie Joy Kushner. Kushner offered a great mix of shape and size along with a great presentation in the 5’ 2” to 5’ 4” class. Kim Scoffins and Brandy Carestia tied for second with Scoffins eventually taking the number two spot.
Joni Neilson and Aimee Cook both possess remarkable proportions and very similar builds. Wide shoulders and sweeping thighs were the order of the day in the 5’ 4” to 5’ 6” class. The judges had Neilson first and Cook second with Kris Isakson third.
The tall ladies in the over 5’ 6” class brought another tie to be broken. The stunning Jill Lane placed third and the equally striking Jennifer Kristiansen took second place behind Tina Trina.
The figure over thirty-five ended with a stunned Heidi Hansen-Carlin taking a convincing first place over second Julie Barnett and third place Tina Smith. Hansen-Carlin ventured all the way from Alaska to compete in this year’s Ironman. Judging from the big smile on her face at the Azteca after-show party it was a trip well worth taking.
Fitness overall winner Kristina Lum presented another great routine. Lum is fast becoming the hardest working amateur in the northwest, competing in just about every show in the area this year and bringing something new and improved to each one. Second place Emily Reed’s routine displayed some amazing flexibility moves and third place Amyjae Springer put forth a commendable presentation as well.
There was a momentary break in the action for a very unique inspirational honor. 2007 Emerald Cup super-heavyweight winner and national contender Todd Jewell was presented an award from Craig Productions and the local office of the F.B.I. Jewell came to prominence after he subdued the infamous “Old School Bandit” in a bank in Lynnwood. It seems that Jewell taught “Old School” a couple new lessons in the form of a few broken ribs and a bloodied nose before police escorted him back to a few years of “time out” in the federal penitentiary.
The men’s masters division along with MC Kim Farrison’s choice remarks was one of the most entertaining of the evening. First out in the over forty class was “Struttin’” Jerome Williams. Not only was Williams’ “pimp walk” at its best but so was his physique. It is hard to believe that he is forty. Jerome Williams is going to be a force to be reckoned in the masters.
Over fifty winner David Wells made some significant improvements since his appearance two weeks before at the Evergreen State. Second and third place winner’s Charlie Brown and Corky Gainsford both had comical posing routines that peaked the capacity crowd at the Meydenbauer Center and inspired some interesting insight from Farrison.
The over sixty class brought out some familiar faces. Third place Bob Mussehl presented a melodic routine that included his infamous abdominal vacuum that guarantees audience response. Second place Paul Stone broke free of his chains once again. Winner Walt Radke may be nearly seventy years old but when he hits the stage the kid comes out and he poses with the reckless abandon of a junior.
The masters women winner Linda Ham put together a great posing routine that really showed her soft side. One of the most interesting presentations of the evening was by second place Jennifer Buell with assistance by her young daughter Tia.
Novice men middleweight winner and overall champion Rob Barnett looked fantastic. He is another competitor who is very likely to become a force in the open divisions. The novice lightweight winner was Brandon Repp and the heavyweight was Derrick Frost.
As mentioned above, Janet Guenther was the overall open women’s winner but that is not to say she had no competition. In the lightweights it was a great match up between Cindy Goodrich and Allison Clerc. Goodrich always comes in condition and with a fresh posing routine. On any given day Clerc and walk away with an overall. On this day it was Goodrich first and Clerc second.
A new up and comer in women’s bodybuilding is Rachele Unson. She possesses a very powerful physique and displays in a unique fashion. Unson placed first just in front of a much-improved Jennifer Erickson.
The men’s open division was filled with surprises and spirited rivalries. Twenty of the best natural bodybuilders on the west coast showed up to see which one would take home the title and the sword.
Adam Tabalno, just back from military service in Iraq, made a great showing to win the bantamweight class by defeating Jerry Burger.
Lightweight winner James Shumpert barely squeaked by a very symmetrical Justin Allar. Steve Huebel look great but was relegated to third place.
The middleweight class was quite the battle between eventual first place winner Kris Shumway and second-by-a-point, Daniel Rutherford. The grudge match began in prejudging and carried on until the last note of the posedown. Rutherford has been winner in both masters and open classes all year but the momentum was on Shumway’s side since his hard fought victory in Wenatchee a few weeks earlier.
Another competitor from the open men middleweight that deserves props is Naim Abdul-Qadir. This kid is barely out of the Juniors and he is more then holding his own in the open classes. Abul-Qadir’s time is soon to come.
Light-heavyweight winner Tony Bates takes the “loudest fans” award. Each time Bates stepped on-stage the decibel level jumped a dozen notches. Not only did he bring his own fans but he made a few during the evening I am sure. He soundly defeated an in shape Larry Hurst who was pushed hard by the third place winner Scott Kluth.
There was no doubt about it, the heavyweights ruled on Saturday night. As great as second place winner Ken Ralston looked it was Anderson “AJ” Moore that was the man of the evening.
Moore took the heavyweight trophy and almost seemed to be on-stage by himself during the overall. He was that good. Not only did he receive a unanimous decision from the judges but from the shouts of the audience it sounded as if they agreed wholeheartedly.
As if the competition wasn’t enough Craig Productions came through with a great health and fitness expo that featured many of the top vendors in the industry as well as some great food from Azteca Restaurant.
The guest performance by IFBB fitness pro Tanji Johnson was as exciting as her heartfelt remembrance of strongman Jesse Marunde was touching.
Hometown boy made good, Mark Dugdale, showed us why he is one of the most sought after guest posers in the business. Dugdale is one of the front-runners when it comes to a pleasing and symmetrical physique.
Fan-favorite Gunter Schlierkamp was also one of the guest posers of the evening. Schlierkamp, who has slimmed down a bit since taking the year off from competition, looked as handsome as ten movie stars. He ten-minute jaunt throughout the auditorium during his posing routine was not enough to satiate his fans.
Cleanup for the evening was none other the Q.T. Quincy Taylor. BIG is too small a word to describe him. Whether the crowd had settled down a bit after Gunter Schlierkamp is debatable, but after the imposing Taylor had his way with them order was impossible to restore.
As I left the venue I overheard a group of spectators arguing the events of the evening, each of them giving their expert opinions on a subjective sport. On one comment they all agreed. Of the many great things that were offered up by Craig Productions, a fantastic venue, great competitors, a fast paced show, and the top celebrities of the sport, there was one thing missing: Crossovers. The fans and the competitors alike were spared the monotony of double and triple entries that seems to be the trend nowadays.
Now that made for a pleasant ending to an extraordinary evening.