If you like fake tans, body oil and revealing outfits and didn’t make it to the Mr. and Ms. Penn Body Building Contest Wednesday night, you really missed out.
The best bodies at Penn came together in Zellerbach Theatre to compete for the titles of Mr. and Ms. Penn.
Competitors performed a 90-second individual routine to the music of their choosing and then four winners were chosen between the men and women in short and tall classes. In a final head-to-head pose-off between them, one man and one woman were crowned winners.
Capturing the title of Mr. Penn out of the short class was senior Robert Pless. Sporting what was by far the darkest tan in the contest, Pless bested Mr. Penn Tall Class Sam Mattis, a freshman discus thrower for Penn.
“I’m not an athlete so this is my sport,” Pless said. “I train every day.”
Outside of lifting, Pless stuck to an exceedingly strict diet leading up to the competition.
“Over the past 12 weeks I’ve been cutting — I’ve been eating at a caloric deficit,” Pless said. “It’s diet that’s really important. That’s what differentiates the competitors from people who just lift on a recreational basis.”
The new Ms. Penn is senior soccer player Erin Beck, who had one of the most raucous cheering sections of the night.
“It’s really exciting,” Beck said. “Having all of my best friends on campus here supporting me, win or lose, I knew I would have an amazing time.”
Besides her standout six-pack abs, the thing that set Beck apart from some other competitors was her strict diet, or rather, lack thereof.
“As far as my diet, I’ve never been one to really watch what I eat,” Beck confessed. “I had pizza [Tuesday] night. I had pizza once when my roommates were watching and once when they went to bed so I didn’t have to see their judging eyes.”
As a four-year Penn soccer player, Beck credits a strenuous training regimen for keeping her in shape.
Though Pless and Beck won the overall titles, each participant received a competitor medal, and awards were distributed for best choreography for the individual portion.
Beck took home the women’s choreography award in addition to the big prize for her routine to Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
“I owe the choreography award entirely to my roommates, [soccer seniors] Sarah Banks, Erin Thayer, Alex Dayneka,” Beck said. “They sat with me and critiqued my moves. I also owe a lot to Taylor Swift for inspiring me with such a beautiful song.”
Founded as a way to raise extra money for Penn’s track and field program, the competition has become the premier bodybuilding event on campus.
Event organizer and women’s track coach Tony Tenisci has put on the competition for 19 years.
“I can’t say enough about how wonderful these young people have been to work with,” Tenisci, who served as emcee, told the crowd.
Pless had nothing but praise for his competitors.
“I was blown away by how well everyone else came in,” he said. “There are so many variables you have to master in order to come on stage and look good. It’s easy to underestimate that, so I want to congratulate everyone else.”
Both Pless and Beck are seniors, so next year, Mr. and Ms. Penn will be new faces. For those who have their sights set on the coveted titles, it’s never too early to start training.