FLEX ‘n’ femme – Personality

FLEX ‘n’ femme – Personality – Shannon Nuessle

Steve Wennerstrom

Arizona’s Shannon Nuessle is blessed with a rare physique. But to the confounding of many, the judges have taken a long time to appreciate her considerable qualities. At 5’7″ and a competitive weight of 131 pounds, Nuessle (pronounced “nessel”) displays an impressive balance that perfectly complements her stunning beauty.

Possessing all the ingredients of a top-level figure competitor, Nuessle has yet to win a figure event, which has led to notable crowd displeasure each time her placing has been announced.

After winning the 1997 Arizona Fitness Championships in the late ’90s, Nuessle took time away to give birth to her son, Miles. She resumed her competitive efforts in 2001, placing seventh at the NPC Contra Costa Figure Championship.

In 2002, things started slowly with another seventh-place showing at the Contra Costa and a sixth-place finish at the Orange County Figure Classic. More recently, she edged up to a pair of runner-up finishes at both the NPC Los Angeles Figure and NPC Ironman Naturally Figure championships.

Now under the guidance of training guru Kim Oddo, Nuessle hopes to turn those runner-up finishes into victories. The way we see it, the sooner the better.


In the October 2000 issue of FLEX, we introduced a novice bodybuilder who showed considerable potential. At the time, Heather Policky distributed 162 pounds on her beautifully balanced 5’7″ frame. Since then, the Texan moved to Colorado and continued her bodybuilding progress.

After winning both the NPC North and South Texas Championship contests in 2000, Policky added the 2001 NPC Colorado State championship to her exploits. From there, Policky moved up to national-level competitions. In 2002, she placed second among the heavyweights at the NPC Junior Nationals. She entered the same class at the 2002 NPC USA in Las Vegas. At a superbly structured 173 pounds, Policky took fourth in a controversial decision at that event. Regardless, many observers believed they were seeing a Ms. Olympia contestant in the making.

Policky, now just 24, has plenty of time to hone her remarkable physique into one of consistent championship form. For more information on Heather Policky, click on


Cleveland, Ohio, is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, so it’s not surprising that Cleveland’s Bethan Wondrak is ready to rock and roll in her future competitive efforts in bodybuilding. “I went to the [NPC] USA [contest] this year not knowing what to expect, but I definitely got a wake-up call. I barely remember being onstage,” Wondrak admits.

“I still think I have the makings of a pretty good bodybuilder,” adds Wondrak matter-of-factly. “I guess I’ll just have to spend more time tightening everything up for next time.” Distributing 156 pounds over her well-balanced 5’5″ frame, Wondrak does, indeed, have the makings of a successful bodybuilder.

In 2001, Wondrak was the overall winner at the Powerhouse Classic in Ohio, and she finished third among the heavyweights at the NPC Pittsburgh. In 2002, she returned to the Pittsburgh event and earned the runner-up heavyweight spot. Then, before her USA awakening, she notched a fourth-place finish at the NPC Junior USA. Says Wondrak of her upcoming competitions in 2003, “I want them to wonder where I came from. I want to be wondrous.” Rock and roll, baby!

Pasta Power

Viviana Soldano’s creativity and sense of style reveal themselves in all facets of her life. So when she found herself relegated to an eighth-place finish in the short class at the 2002 NPC Orange County Figure Classic last April, Soldano was eager to explain what happened. “I really felt confined in that contest. I guess I found out that figure contests are not for me. I need the ability to express myself, and you can’t do that in a figure contest. So I have decided to become a bodybuilder, where the added muscle and posing routine will be much more challenging. People will see more of my personality come out as a bodybuilder. I really want to be able to use my creativity through my body, and I think people will like it.”

Her strong desire to explore her creativity undoubtedly comes from her father, Sergio Soldano, a famous clothing designer and furrier, who has designed for such stars as Gina Lollobrigida, Elizabeth Taylor, Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch. Hoping to stay close to her father’s footsteps, Viviana initially dreamed of a modeling career, but that desire waned when she found she lacked the height required to work in high fashion. Consequently, she followed a path that led to fitness and weight training and has become a successful trainer and nutritionist in Southern California. For more information on Viviana, check out her Web site at


North Carolina’s Ann Dana may be a basic yoga instructor/personal trainer in her hometown of Whispering Pines, but when it comes to midsections, there is nothing basic about her striking combination of abdominal, serratus and intercostal muscles. They seem, without exaggeration, positively shrink-wrapped.

Distributing 118 pounds on her 53 frame, 33-year-old Dana began her competitive bodybuilding efforts in 1997, placing fourth at the NPC Elite Muscle Classic. In 2001, she won the lightweight and overall crowns at the NPC Western North Carolina. A year later, she was the runner-up at the NPC North Carolina state contest. In 2002, Dana made a successful debut in national-level contests with a fifth-place lightweight finish at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago on June 15.

Even though Dana has been actively competing in bodybuilding for the past five years, she gives much of the credit for her torso development to intense yoga training.


On the Sunday after her scintillating overall victory at the 2002 NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago, Sarah Dunlap still appeared stunned by her win. The University of Pittsburgh student was only 21 years old, making her one of the youngest women to win the title. She joins a prestigious list of Junior National champions, including Ms. Olympia winners Lenda Murray and Kim Chizevsky.

At 5’4″ and 141 pounds, Dunlap also won her class with a unanimous decision of the judges. This achievement is even more impressive because Dunlap had competed in only two contests before her journey to Chicago for the June 15 event.

“I know this contest has had some big-name women as winners,” says Dunlap. “I’m so new to this that I haven’t really had the time to think about who I’m competing against and the true importance of the contest. I just wanted to get up there and flex. I guess the judges liked the way I looked. It blows me away!”

With the engaging combination of youth and an ever-improving physique, Sarah Dunlap’s name could be firmly entrenched near the top of score sheets for many years to come.

To contact Steve Wennerstrom, write to P.O. Box 421431, San Diego CA 92142



1986 Kelly Riley, California

1987 Sharon Arrildt, Maryland

1988 Kim King, Pennsylvania

1989 Lenda Murray, Michigan

1990 Debbie Muggli, Texas

1991 Tracy Gillespie, Tennessee

1992 Kim Chizevsky, Illinois

1993 Gina Marie Hall, Delaware

1994 Carmen Brady, California

1995 Jennifer Greenbaum, Washington, DC

1996 Amy Pazzo, Ohio

1997 Tara Boyd, North Carolina

1998 Kelly Wall, North Carolina

1999 Sherry Smith, Oklahoma

2000 Robin Herring, South Carolina

2001 Dre Dillard, Texas

2002 Sarah Dunlap, Pennsylvania

COPYRIGHT 2003 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group