2017 Northern Counties Championships
Photos courtesy of Sam Solarfly, Matt Marsh Photography
The second annual Northern Counties took place at Heywood Civic Centre, Lancashire on Sunday 3rd September. Although slightly down on athlete numbers from last year, the quality was just as high and the audience was packed and noisy giving an incredible atmosphere for the contenders to do battle in.
Results were as follows:
1 Jack Stanyer (Newcastle Under Lyme). Although the lone contestant in this class, Jack was of a standard which would be hard to beat with a well built and nicely balanced physique. If Jack takes his condition to the next level for the finals he will feature strongly.
1 AJ Morris (Brighton). A standout winner of the juniors and one of the best physiques in the entire contest, AJ had progressed in leaps and bounds from his last outing on a UKDFBA stage as a teenager in 2015 and put himself into contention as one of the favourites for the finals this year. Densely muscled in the lower body with thick hamstrings and glutes to match his impressive quads and a flaring and shapely upper body capped off with tight conditioning, AJ also posed like a pro and was very close to lifting the days best poser trophy.
2 Kane Alder (Leigh). Tall, wide and heavily muscled, this second generation athlete looked every bit a chip off the old block (with father Kevin being a leading heavyweight throughout the 90s and early 2000s) and used his imposing size to beat out the eventual third place finisher to the runner up spot today. If Kane nails his condition for the finals he will be one to look out for.
3 Aiden Clowes (Southampton). Harder than the runner up but without the size needed to topple him from the second place spot today, Aiden made his stage debut with style today and with more overall size over the next few years (having only just turned 20 and missed out on competing in the teens) will see him do some considerable damage in the junior division.
4 Elliott Broomhall (Stoke on Trent). An impressive man with thick muscle all over with particularly impressive quads, shoulders and traps, Elliott needed more condition to break into the higher placings today. Once he masters the art of conditioning, he will be hard to beat.
1 Michael Boyle (Bury). Pipping the runner up to the post in the closest of calls, Michael was ecstatic to take the title in front of his hometown crowd with a thickly muscled upper body and legs which have improved beyond recognition in the last few years all capped off with really tight condition and loads of muscle detail. If Michael could master his posing to show himself off a little better he would be even more impressive.
2 Damon Solley (Leeds). Equal to Michael in size, with an edge in lower body development and certainly in aesthetic appeal due to his more competent presentation, Damon was just a little short of top condition today and could well turn this result around at the finals once he dials it in.
1 Adrian Hampton (Devizes). A close winner in another really tough battle, Adrian was a little bigger and harder than the runner up, steadily improving as the season unfolds and getting closer to emulating his best condition by the day.
2 Danny Sloniowski (Bury). Pipped at the post by the winner, nobody would have complained had Danny taken the title with his superior shape and balance and top class presentation. Danny was not quite as big or hard as last years showing but only marginally. He has a very pleasing physique and at his best would have almost certainly taken the title today.
1 Clare Hulme (Hyde). Vastly improved from her 2016 showing, Clare was lean and athletic with neat stage presentation. If she continues this rate of progress, she will be a threat in any line up in years to come.
2 Lisa Hendry (Horsham). With great development and lean condition, Lisa would have been more suited to figure on this occasion, where she would have been well in the mix.
Masters Ladies Figure
1 Alex Kokkonen (Coventry). A standout winner, taking a clear win. Alex presents herself with poise and precision, and has a great shape with wide shoulders and a narrow waist. She is very muscular for a figure athlete, and perhaps too much so in some areas and would benefit from coming in a little softer and fuller in future.
2 Jayne Anderson (Northwich). Her best yet, making progress in overall development and leaner than shes ever been. Jayne was overjoyed with her runner up spot and thoroughly deserved her invitation to the finals.
3 Tara Holmes (Fleetwood). Wisely switching to this class after making her debut in bikini earlier in the year, Tara looked more than comfortable onstage in this class and has potential for future success. A little softer than her last outing, Tara should focus on reproducing her previous condition next time round.
Ladies Figure, Open
1 Stacey Barnes (Rotherham). A clear winner, and one of the best figure athletes seen not only this season but in the history of the association, Stacey was truly World Class with an incredibly balanced and appropriately lean overall package which she presented like a seasoned professional, adding little twists and transitions into her posing which just made her stand out onstage. Stacey will be hard to beat at the finals and has limitless potential for future success.
2 Alex Kokkonen (Coventry). Giving Stacey a challenge but no match for her near perfect package, Alex took runner up spot to add another trophy to the one she took in the masters and the two she lifted at the Southern a few weeks previously.
1 Joe Parish (Stirling). Another dominant class winner with rock hard condition and a really pleasing physique was Joe. A little lighter in the lower body than upper, he will be tough to beat at any level when he evens the balance out in this respect but at Novice level will always be one to watch.
2 Jack Ellis (Halifax). A real big lad with a very well put together physique, Jack was structurally excellent with thick chest, delts and back with wide shoulders and big sweeping quads. Once he nails that conditioning and takes the tan a few shades darker, he could well be the man to beat at novice level.
3 Heydon Chu (Farnworth). Harder than Jack but without the size to beat him today, Heydon looked superb from the front with good leg separation, prominent abs and good arms. Heydon now needs to bring up his back to match and when he does will be another man who enjoys success as a novice.
4 Armani Barkatali (Warrington). With staggering improvements since last years contest, Armani was bigger, thicker, more balanced and considerably harder. He now needs to go the finals few steps condition wise to realise his potential, of which there is a huge amount.
1 Matthew Worster (Rugby). A solid win for Matt, who was lean and muscular with great pecs and abdominals and a great V-taper. Very close to too big for the division, Matt should take care not to add too much more size without aspirations to progress to bodybuilding.
2 Stephen Dale (Dundee). Stephen was hard and cut, and would possibly benefit from gracing the finals stage slightly softer than he was today but was good enough to fend off the rest of the class to land in second place today. More shoulder width and taper will benefit him for future contests.
3 James Watkinson (Bingley). A pleasing shape and good proportions and stage presence, but not quite in the condition that saw him take the runner up spot at the USN Classic earlier in the season. James was worthy of his finals invitation though and will feature strongly if he brings his condition back in.
4 Jake Maddox (Worcester). A really pleasing structure and good condition, Jake needed more overall size to place higher today.
5 Forhan Ahmed (Manchester). Another guy with a great shape, but a little more conditioning needed in Forhans case to push the top 3. Also competed: Tristan Alden (Market Harborough), Thomas Wykes (Stamford), Ryan Howells (Bristol). Ryan was wide and thickly muscled and as we would discover later was far better suited to bodybuilding than physique. Tristan and Thomas both looked great and could have placed in the top 5 with no complaints.
1 Sabrina Cawley-Brady (Manchester). An incredible debut from Sabrina who boasted dense muscularity across her physique and a hard upper body. If Sabrina brings in her lower body conditioning for the finals, she could cause a major upset against her fellow contenders.
Open Men, Lightweight
1 Chris Paling (Loughborough). Chris took the class by the narrowest of margins, boasting incredible condition and deep separation across his entire body. With a little more mass on his back to match his thick muscle elsewhere, he could be absolutely unstoppable.
2 AJ Morris (Brighton). AJ pushed the winner hard with his superior mass and aesthetic appeal, coming so close to the title in just landing the short end of a split decision from the judges. He looked a little softer than in his earlier class, possibly due to the rigours of a very long day and had he been as full and hard as when he took the junior trophy would have almost certainly taken the title today.
3 Marcus Beales (Manchester). A great comeback to the stage for Marcus after overcoming significant illness over the last year. He sported his trademark shredded condition and enthusiastic stage presence and beat some great athletes into the top 3 today. With time, Marcus will regain and surpass his previous levels of muscle size and be pushing for the top level in this class.
4 Cary Lawton (Westhoughton). A great physique in good shape and really unlucky not to crack the top 3 today, Cary was wide and aesthetic and with a touch more condition would have easily jumped a few places today.
5 Jason Barnett (Bradford). Another great comeback from the former World Amateur Champion who lit up the stage with his expert presentation and poise. Not quite as big or hard as his peak a few years ago but impressive nonetheless, it will be interesting to see if Jason can recapture that form as the season unfolds.
6 Heydon Chu (Farnworth). A great showing from Heydon, who despite his novice status held his own admirably.
Open Men, Middleweight
1 Ryan Howells (Bristol). Much more at home in the trunks than the shorts, Ryan was a clear winner in this class with his pleasing shape, great quads and arms and overall tight condition. Ryan needs to adjust his tan a little as it was a touch pale and grubby but on this form should be a frontrunner at the finals for sure.
2 Peter Garay (Shrewsbury). One of the best and most complete physiques on the circuit with not a weak body part in sight and spectacular posing which saw him lift the best poser award for the day, Peter was notably softer than he needs to be to be at his best but still good enough to fend off the rest of the class. Peter, get it right for the finals and there could be trouble for the others!
3 Dean Nolan (Buckley). Vastly improved from 2016 with great condition particularly in his quads which were dry and detailed, Dean won the battle for the third place trophy which could have gone to any of the other men without argument.
4 Joe Parish (Stirling). Looking just as impressive as earlier, Joes aesthetic shape and hard condition almost bagged him that last spot in the top three.
5 Michael Boyle (Bury). Big and hard, Mick lacked the aesthetics required to push ahead of Dean and Joe today but looked incredible all the same.
6 Steven Chidgey (Manchester). Steven had the most breath-taking shape in the class, with wide shoulders, a tiny waist and sweeping legs and bought the house down with his excellent routine. Sadly, his condition was not at the level it needed to be for him to have placed higher but once he masters that, the winners trophies will come flooding in without doubt.
Open Men, Heavyweight
1 Dan Lampard (Wilmslow). One of the most aesthetic heavyweights in the game, Dan conducts himself onstage like the experienced veteran that he has come to be and proved too much for not only this class but every other man in the contest as he swept to conclusive wins in both the heavyweights and overall today.
2 Nick Adams (Sheffield). Securing runner up spot for the second year in a row, Nick was vastly improved in terms of size and condition from last years contest and pushed Dan hard today. A little tighter still and Nick could surprise himself at the finals.
3 Adrian Hampton (Devizes). Grandmasters winner Adrian held his own admirably against the others, looking cool and composed the whole time he was onstage.
4 Pavel Matejec (Warrington). A first time competitor who was actually still young enough to compete as a Junior, Pavel did himself proud in the class with a big and full physique which showed great promise. Pavel should focus on the finishing touches of condition and tanning for future outings and could be one to watch if he does.
And that ended our time in Heywood, with Overall Winner Dan duly invited to represent the UKDFBA three weeks later in the Danish Open where he would join three time Caledonian Champ David Old in a small but very powerful team.
For the others, it was back to the grindstone for the finals 7 weeks from this contest where more than one athlete from today will be looking to lift the UK title in their division. One qualifier to go. The year is flying by