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Local competitor gains valuable experience

(ran PC edition)

When bodybuilder Wendy Hoogsteden headed to New York City to compete in last weekend's Team Universe Championships, her goal was not to win _ though that would have been great _ but to gain as much experience as she could in her first national contest.

A realistic goal, to be sure. And it was a good thing, too, because the competition was unrealistic.

Hoogsteden, one of the top young bodybuilders in Florida and a member of the east Pasco Bodies in Bronze team, finished 14th in the lightweight division _ out of 15 competitors.

Albeit very good, very refined, very experienced and very, very muscular competitors.

"When she saw the competitors," said Debbie Wolfe, who sponsors Bodies in Bronze from her Crescent Fitness Center in Dade City, "her mouth kind of dropped open."

Bill Cordrey, Hoogsteden's Bodies in Bronze coach and a trainer at Crescent Fitness Center, said from the moment they arrived, they knew they were in for a rough time.

"New York was actually pretty nice. We got there and got to look at the auditorium. It was all very exciting," Cordrey said. "But right from the beginning, we knew we were seeing girls we saw in the magazines all the time. We knew we were in a high class of ladies right then."

Her Bodies in Bronze teammates helped raise $1,200 that was needed to send Hoogsteden and Cordrey to New York, and Cordrey said that was what pained Hoogsteden the most.

"I just wish it had been a Cinderella story for everybody's sake," Hoogsteden told her coach.

Cordrey said she had nothing to worry about.

"The only disappointment she had was she felt she let down the people who sent her up there," he said. "It took me a while to convince her that isn't why they sent her. They sent her not be a winner, but to be a champion."

Cordrey said Hoogsteden had a great show for a novice, and the judges noticed, inviting her back to compete again next year.

"The critique from the judge afterwards was that she needs more experience," Cordrey said.

Added Milton: "She's still a baby bodybuilder, and those women obviously had years of tissue development she didn't have; tissue built over time and titles a mile long when they were introduced. So for her to be invited back at her level was pretty awesome."

This is, after all, just her third show in her young two-year career. And even though she had won the previous two, experience carried the day.

"Everything went perfect," Cordrey said. "Her diet, her attitude. She was dry, fit and ready for the show. She did nothing to cause her to lose other than 15 great competitors showed up. There were girls there who have done the show three or four times and still placed 11th.

"It was a top-of-the-line show. Wendy's attitude was very good. She stayed in there and competed all the way through."

Hoogsteden made the first cut Saturday at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center; but not the second, though she did handle the disappointment better than some of her fellow competitors.

"A couple of the girls started crying," Cordrey said. "But Wendy kept her smile on and professional attitude, and she actually consoled some of the other girls. I was very proud of the way she handled herself."

This week, Hoogsteden is off again, this time to Quincy, Ill., to run clinics at a national skydiving event.