Red and blue lights shined on the smoke-filled stage as the 11 male and seven female competitors sat backstage patiently waiting to come out and show the audience in John R. Emens Auditorium the physique they have been working on for months, or even years.

The 2017 Mr. and Ms. Ball State bodybuilding show began when all 18 competitors came out wearing a medal around their neck.

“All competitors have a medal around their neck because they are all winners tonight for stepping on this stage,” said David Pearson, who has coordinated and promoted the competition for more than 30 years. “These folks have been seriously training for at least a year or more and several of the competitors have competed before and have been in, or are going to be in another contest this weekend.”

After clearing the stage, Pearson called out all of the women competitors. All lined up next to each other and Jason Roberson, the head judge and strength coach, asked them to do a series of poses.

When the group poses were finished, each female competitor was called on stage individually to do a routine for 60 seconds to a song of their choice.

The same structure went for the two men’s divisions. This division divided the men by their height, between medium and tall classes. 

After several poses were done by the male and female competitors, Roberson and judge Rick Rutledge took an intermission to decide who were the winners.

Christina Hall, a senior graphic design major, was crowned Ms. Ball State. After competing last year and placing third, she came back this year to take home the first-place trophy.

“It feels really good, I’m not going to lie, I honestly didn’t expect myself to win," Hall said. "I had some tough competition … I was actually shocked and I’m really, really happy about it."

Hall said she got too in her head last year and kept switching up her diet, so she did something different this year.

“I stayed pretty consistent this year with my eating habits and I didn’t cut myself off completely from good food. But the last three weeks I cut hard because I was starting to get nervous,” Hall said.

After crowning Ms. Ball State, the two men’s divisions were next. In Mr. Ball State’s men’s medium class, Ryan Bickford, a senior exercise science major, was crowned the winner. In Mr. Ball State’s tall build class, Chris Stevens, a senior business administration major, was crowned the winner.

The two then competed against each other for the title of Mr. Ball State. Both stood on stage together and did a series of poses side-by-side, so the judges could compare each physique.

After many cheers by the audience, the judges finally came down to a decision. Bickford was crowned Mr. Ball State for 2017.

Like Hall, Bickford also came up short the last two years he’s competed in the Mr. and Ms. Ball State bodybuilding competition. 

“It's definitely been a long time coming in my eyes," Bickford said. "This year, I finally figured out what works and how my body responds and I’ve always just stuck with it, so consistency has finally paid off."