Ironman Prejudging, February 17 10 a.m.

Prejudging is about to start to kick off the 2007 competitive season. 24 competitors in all, Luke Wood has withdrawn due to illness. First competitor to hit the stage in Round 1 is Eddie Abbew from England. Looks good, tight. Competitor number 2 (they are coming out in alphabetical order) is Jason Arntz. He last competed at the Atlantic City Pro in 2006, where he finished seventh. Eryk Bui is third out; coming off a disappointing 2006, where he competed three times, his best finish being eighth at this show last year. Omar Deckard is next in his pro debut. Too much oil, not at the same shape he was at USAs. Good biceps peaks. Will be a good learning experience his first pro show out, he's bound to get better. A top five finisher from last year, Kris Dim is up next. Still struggling to bring his legs up after his knee injury. Will be tough to repeat 2006 showing here, but it's hard to tell until we see the comparisons, who's in shape and who's not. His back is thicker, he's made improvements there. Dugdale takes the stage. His quads are feathered and shredded. Last here, he was fifth here, then had to withdraw from the Arnold Classic due to a sudden illness. Hopeing for a better start to 2007. Overall, he needs to be a shade sharper. He told us last night he's attempting to peak for the Arnold, so he does know he's not at his absolute best here. Still, may be enough for a good showing. Moe Elmoussaoui is up next. His arms are freakin' incredible. It'll be interesting to see him in comparisons. Got the biggest ovation thus far. Aiman Faour is up next; he and Moe certainly have a lot of vowels locked up between them, with Moe getting the nod. Aiman likely won't make the top 10. Toney Freeman, a big favorite coming in because of his performances last year (including one contest win). He's pretty tight, and he should be top three at least, although it's hard to know more until we see everyone. Ahmad Haidar is next. He's hard and should be in the mix for the top five. Often overlooked, likely because of his overall balance, as nothing stands out from the whole (which, actually, is what bodybuilding's supposed to be about). Last year, he was ninth at the Ironman, should better that. Marcus Haley takes the stage.. Looks okay, probably not going to vie for the top spot, but maybe top 10. David Henry, who finished second last year (controversially, as many, including this pundit, think he should have won), is out now. Not quite as sharp as the Henry we've come to expect. Rusty Jeffers comes out, and hits the vaccuum -- nice, it's a shame more pros can't do that one. Not as sharp as he could be, he's definitely been better. Last year, he competed once, in the Masters Pro World, finishing eighth, although he should have finished much higher there. Today probably won't be his day. Rod Ketchens is next. Isn't crisp enough, and is still battling for symmetry in his physique. Martin Kjellstrom is up. From Sweden, he competed three times in the IFBB in 2006, His best finish was last year's Ironman, where he was 12th. Probably won't crack the top 10 this year. Canada's Frank McGrath is out to center stage. He's got some potential, although he doesn't have enough yet to compete for a top spot yet. Italy's Francesco Mazzotta is out. Has a very strange tan color, not quite enough oil, although in any case, he doesn't have enough firepower to compete at a high levels in the IFBB ranks. Silvio Samuel of Spain comes out. He's got a solid shape and proportion to his physiique. His legs are awesome. In the past, he's come in a little soft, but this time that's not a problem. He should be in the running for top five, if not higher. Daniele Seccarecci from Italy takes the stage, continuing the international run. He's got a lot of size and muscle mass, but likely won't make top 10. Roc Shabazz from Atlanta comes out. A great guy, but not quite enough yet to vie for the upper tier of these mid-level contests. He'll get there. Sergey Shelestov from Russia making his first appearance on a US stage. He was third in Romania during the post-Olympia European Grand Prix last year. Still not quite ready to do battle with the big boys here, but plenty of potential is there. He's hard and has some outstanding bodyparts. Clifton Torres, a long-time bantamweight and lightweight competitor, is up. Not nearly hard enough to make an impact here. Hidetada Yamagishi from Japan is out. He's made a ton of improvements in 12 months, and he was already pretty good last year. He's a solid bodybuilder who should get more attention. He deserves a top 10 slot. Fabrizio Zittucro rounds out the lineup. Not gonna happen for Fabrizio, he'll be outside the top 15.