Atlanta’s Beth bet – Brief Article
The sport of bodybuilding swathed itself in Atlanta’s Southern hospitality on November 17 when a competitive field of 63 contestants assembled in the main ballroom of the Georgia World Congress Center for the annual NPC Women’s Nationals.
The star of the event was a soft-spoken Pennsylvanian named Beth Roberts, who emerged as the nation’s newest NPC National overall champion. For Roberts, the victory was a stunner. Of course, for those who have watched this Harrisburg blonde compete in the past, she always exudes something of a “deer in the headlights” stage persona, which is one of the more endearing aspects of her overall package as a bodybuilder. That said, Roberts still flexed with ferocity to earn her trophies, and her weight-class sisters weren’t about to give up without a fight.
LIGHTWEIGHTS: DOSS IS BOSS
When Mary Ellen Doss isn’t busy winning national bodybuilding titles, she works as an elementary school teacher. But there was nothing elementary about her lightweight NPC National victory in Atlanta. From Wilmington, North Carolina, Doss picked what turned out to be one of the most competitive lightweight battles in the illustrious history of the event.
In posting her win, 5’2″ 118-pound Doss found herself in an old-fashioned muscle war with Californian Angela Irizarry and New Jersey’s Elena Seiple-Perticari. Carrying with her the momentum of a lightweight crown at the NPC USA in 2000, Doss picked up six first-place ballots from the judging panel. The remaining five sided with Irizarry. In the final tally, Doss won the class by just one point over Irizarry.
Reflective in victory, 36-year-old Doss said, “After I won the Junior Nationals lightweight class in 1995, I took a long break from competition. It was good for me, because it gave me a better look at the big picture and at what the competitive side of the sport was offering me. So when I competed again in 2000 [she took both the Jan Tana Amateur Grand Prix and USA lightweight titles], I was far better prepared mentally to endure the challenges physically. Everything just seemed to come together at the right time.”
At 26, Angela Irizarry was 10 years Mary Ellen Doss’ junior, but what she lacked in age and experience, the 2001 NPC Junior National lightweight champion more than made up for in beautifully sculpted muscle. Standing just 4’11 3/4″ and weighing 116 1/2 pounds, the tiny Californian from Hayward was right on Doss’ heels from the first callout. Her second-place finish in her first NPC Nationals appearance firmly establishes her as a top-ranking amateur and leading contender at the USA or Nationals in 2002.
The same could be said for third-place Elena Seiple-Perticari. From Washington, New Jersey, 5’2″ 118-pound Seiple-Perticari slipped a notch from her Nationals runner-up placement in this same class in 2000. Looking notably better muscularly, her lower finish reinforces the fact that this class was extremely competitive and of high quality.
MIDDLEWEIGHTS: ANOTHER VILLALOBOS VICTORY
In a field of 16 women in the middleweight class, only two checked in at a lighter weight than Tonia Villa lobos’ 124 1/2 pounds. But she more than brought her share of heavyweight physical credentials to Atlanta as she amassed 10 of the 11 first-place judging ballots.
From Gardena, California, 30-year-old Villalobos made something of a strategic move in entering the middleweight class. No stranger to national-level competitions, the 51″ administrative secretary had gained most of her contest success competing as a lightweight. In fact, she has won the NPC lightweight class twice.
“I decided to add a few pounds of muscle to my physique this year and see if it would make a difference in how I looked,” said Villalobos of her middleweight classification. “I guess it worked. It feels good to know I have earned the right to turn pro.” Indeed, Villalobos’ overall look has improved. But it was an improvement on a physique that was already very good and, for all intents and purposes, underrated.
The only first-place vote Villalobos missed snagging went to Lisa Winston. A North Carolinian with staggering potential, Winston brought solid contest credentials to Atlanta, having won both the NPC North Carolina State and NPC Junior USA overall titles in 2000 before notching an attention-getting third in the middleweight class of the 2000 Nationals in New York.
From Greensboro, Winston checked in at a divinely distributed 132 pounds on her 51311 frame. In finishing second to Villalobos, she managed to creep ever closer to an inevitable national title that will lead her to the pro ranks. In her case, it’s not a matter of if, but rather when.
By placing third, New Yorker Rosemary Jennings easily qualified as the year’s “most improved” athlete. At the 2000 Nationals in New York, Jennings finished an unheralded 12th in the middleweight category. In 2001, at 130 1/2 pounds, she leapfrogged to a placement that now finds her among the serious contenders for a national title.
HEAVYWEIGHTS: STRAIGHT FIRSTS FOR BETH ROBERTS
It was a decade ago, in 1991, that a Pennsylvanian named Kim King won the heavyweight and overall NPC Nationals when the event was staged in King’s hometown of Pittsburgh. No heavyweight from Pennsylvania had repeated the feat until Harrisburg’s Beth Roberts stormed into Atlanta to equal King’s success–and in unanimous fashion.
After a steadily escalating career that started in 1993, Roberts’ third-place heavyweight finish at the 2001 USA served notice that she possessed a physique worthy of top consideration. In the tradition of blue-collar bodybuilding, Roberts has been a steadfastly dedicated competitor, who has made every effort to refine herself and make notable improvements wherever possible.
“I have to admit I was not totally confident about entering the Nationals as a heavyweight,” confides Roberts. “It’s true I won the Junior USA as a heavyweight, but I dropped down to middleweight at the last Nationals. I was thrilled with placing third in my class.
“I guess it was a just a matter of the added muscle weight I had gained in the offseason, and I felt fine with it. I also thought it would be too hard to diet down to make middleweight again, so I just decided to see what would happen if I entered the Nationals as a heavyweight.” What happened was a physique the judges could reward. Her unanimous score reflected that, even though the huge class of 21 women featured several contestants who carried impressively muscled physiques.
In particular, runner-up Rae Mokhtari showed much of what had helped her to a third-place finish in her first NPC Nationals in 1997. At that event, the Houston native flexed among the middleweights with a highly detailed but wiry physique. In Atlanta, and at a more fully developed 134 pounds, Mokhtari gained unanimous votes for second.
Placing third was New Yorker Colette Nelson. A recent winner of the NPC USA heavyweight division in Las Vegas, Nelson found the level of competition in Atlanta considerably more difficult. Still, the 5’5″ 146-pound registered dietitian made considerable improvements from her sixth-place middleweight finish at the NRC Nationals a year earlier. As she continues to make gains in her lower body, she will no doubt reach her intended goal of turning pro.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group