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160+ competitors take centerstage at Mid-Illinois Championships

OTTAWA — The 2018 edition of the NPC Mid-Illinois Bodybuilding, Figure, Bikini and Physique Championships held Saturday at the Ottawa High School auditorium was as much a culmination and celebration of months of intense hard work and dedication as it was a competition.

At the end of the night it was a competition, though, and a handful of competitors from right here in Starved Rock Country did quite well for themselves when the hardware was handed out.

“It’s more about what people don’t see — 15 weeks of hard work, dedication and heart,” said Devin Geiger of Marseilles, a competitor in the Open Men’s Physique division. “It’s waking up and eating the same thing, training for two to three hours, an hour of cardio. You’re sacrificing going out to eat, your friends, your family, holidays, relationships.

“But it’s so rewarding, and it reflects on the other parts of your life. ... You get out what you put in.”

Over 160 competitors from all over Illinois as well as six other states took the stage at the event, presented by Flex Gym and promoted as always by Jeff Johnson.

The evening’s top winners included: on the men’s side — Masters Overall champion Stanley Craven of Lockport, Overall Open champion Jason Nobles of Plainfield, Open Classic Physique champion Zachary Metzger of Loves Park, Overall Open Men’s Physique winner Tyrone Carr of Chicago; and for the women — Overall Physique champion Jeanette Robins of Schuler Park, Overall Masters Figure winner Kimberly Lim-Perez of Chicago, Open Figure victor Angela Mancilla of Calumet City, Masters Bikini Overall winner Christina Rodriguez of Elgin and Overall Open Bikini champion Danielle Claypool of Carol Stream.

Of the handful of local competitors, Oglesby’s Judson Heess took home the highest trophy by winning the Teen Men Physique division.

“When I was 12 years old I had weights in my basement from when my dad weightlifted as a kid, and I guess I just got into it,” the 15-year-old La Salle-Peru High School student and first-time competitor said. “I had some years downstairs, saw progress and said, ‘Well, I might as well keep going.’

“This was my first show. It was pretty nerve-racking. You don’t know how nervous you’re going to get until you walk out on the stage.”

Ottawa’s own Jamilia Jones closed the show by giving hometown fans something to cheer for, scoring a third-place finish of 17 entrants in the Novice Bikini division and following that up with a runner-up placing in Open Bikini D competition.

“Seven years ago I was going to school here,” said Jones. “I was always into (bodybuilding shows), and after graduation I started training for it a little bit, and then I had my daughter, I was working two jobs, stuff like that. But I got a new job and started dating my boyfriend (fellow competitor Patrick Murphy) in October, and I said, ‘All right, I want to compete,’ and he said, ‘Well, I can get you ready.’ ...

“I’m totally pumped. It’s nice to have my first show in my hometown.”

Other area entrants included Utica’s Steven Strecker (7th in Novice Classic Physique, 8th in Open Classic Physique B), Geiger (5th in Open Men’s Physique C) and Blackstone’s Rebecca Simmons (4th in Masters Figure 35-44, 4th in Novice Figure, runner-up in Open Figure C). Morris’ Lucas Bledsoe (1st in Teen Men Bodybuilding, 3rd in Novice Men Bodybuilding) and Heather Phillips (1st in Masters Figure 35-44) took home titles as well.

The evening’s guest poser was an impressive one — IFBB professional bodybuilder Michael Lockett.

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