Finally. It's over. But many of the competitors aren't done.
The last weigh-in for the ninth annual Tribune Chronicle-St. Elizabeth / St. Joseph Centers Fitness Challenge is in the books. The 375 players combined to lose 5,588 pounds over 10 weeks to benefit charities and service organizations.
And the winner?
Frank Tempesta, left, watches as Ryan McComb dead lifts more than 500 pounds recently at Tempesta’s No Mercy Training Systems. McComb is a senior football player at Warren G. Harding High School, who recently signed a letter of intent with West Point.
Sorry. As usual, we're taking a few extra days to make sure the numbers are right and to interview the top teams. "The Big Reveal" will be featured on Sunday's Life cover.
In the meantime, let's talk about what happens next.
"This is just the beginning, it's not an ending," Shirley Lisk, manager of St. Joe's at the Mall, said. "You've got to this point. Now get to your healthy weight and stay there."
Several players and teams are doing just that, Lisk said. They are extending the Challenge among themselves. Some are putting down money to create their own pots for charity, and some are just relishing the accountability of a weekly weigh-in.
"The scales are here. Come in anytime," Lisk said. "Create your own logbook. You figure out how you want to do your own program."
St. Joe's at the Mall is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Eastwood Mall in Niles.
The members of Rileigh's Angels, which was in 41st place of the 75 teams last week, are taking advantage of it.
"We did do well and we are very proud of ourselves," team captain Amy Cavin said. "But none of us reached our 'goal weight.' So, yes, we are continuing on for another eight weeks.
"We are using our ending weigh-in weights as our starting weight. All five team members have put in $25 and on Saturday, May 22, we are going to meet at the mall (St. Joe's) for a weigh-in, and whoever has lost the biggest percentage will win the 'pot' of $125.
"I have talked with several others who have not met their goals and say they are continuing on too. I would encourage them too," Cavin said. "For the past 10 weeks, we have counted calories, cut out overeating, started exercising - whatever. Don't stop now! Keep it going!"
Maria Rizer from Kalories for Kids had much the same idea.
"It has been a great Challenge and I plan to continue it," Rizer said. "I has really motivated me to lose weight and focus on fitness more than I ever have. My total weight loss is 13.3 pounds.
"Thank you for all of your hard work and efforts to help save the lives of many who were struggling with their weight and health.
"I would like to challenge anyone who might be interested in continuing this fitness endeavor and name this after my late husband, Dr. Franklin M. Rizer, who passed away in an airplane crash seven years ago March 20."
She suggested entry fees of $50 for teams of four. Proceeds would go to the Children's Rehab Hospital with emphasis on children with speech and hearing needs, in honor of her late husband's work, she said.
She can be contacted through the e-mail address at the bottom of this article. Other ideas also can be suggested until the next Fitness Challenge.
While we can't tell you yet who won, here are some preliminary numbers - complete but unofficial results, if you will:
l Fifteen of the 75 five-member teams lost a combined total of more than 100 pounds. One of those teams actually topped the 200-pound mark.
l Of course, winners are determined by percentage of starting weight lost, not total pounds. Eleven teams recorded weight losses of 10 percent or more.
l While many teams really cranked it up a gear for the final week - three teams dropped more than 36 pounds in the final week - others apparently were suffering fatigue from forcing healthier habits upon themselves. Twelve teams actually GAINED weight on the last week of the weight LOSS competition, and two others stayed the same.
l All 75 teams did record an overall weight loss for the 10 weeks. Don't laugh. In past years, we've actually had a team or two that was heavier at the end of the weight-loss competition than at the beginning!
To review, at the end of Week 9, the top five teams in the standings were:
First place, Calorie Counters, 16.75 percent of starting weight lost;
Second, Never Say Never, 15.48 percent;
Third, 4 Tubbies and a Chubby Hubby, 12.14 percent
Fourth, Gone in a Flash, 11.73 percent;
Fifth, Kings of Carz, 11.39 percent.
Where did teams come up with those names? This week, Tanya Barlow explains how the name Weight and See came to be.
"Beverly (Jackson), Sharon (Thomas) and myself and our husbands were out eating and drinking all of the wrong things one night and started throwing around names for our team," Barlow said. "Beverly's husband said Weight and See, and we thought it was perfect for us."
Each Fitness Challenge designated a service organization or charity for which it is playing. The first place team donates $1,500 to its charity; second, $1,000; third, $600; fourth, $400; fifth to seventh, $350; and eighth to 10th, $300. Plus the team with the best one-week performance each week earns another $10 for its charity.
This week, we focus on The Nicholson Center, the cause chosen by the Calorie Counters.
The Nicholson Center, 3581 Youngstown Warren Road, Warren, provides employment and training, as well recreation and lunches, for adults with developmental disabilities or special needs. Work programs include jobs such as silk-screening T-shirts, mail sorting and assembly, packing and shipping, and making homemade dog treats, according to the center.
Bob Perlik, captain of the Calorie Counters, said, "It's a pretty neat school they're starting there. One of my teammates has a son who's going there. He likes it there. It's a great place. We're happy to be helping them out."
They were known as the Inlaws/Outlaws when they won it all in 2007. They vowed that was their last year. So when they changed their minds and returned in 2009, the team changed its name to Never Say Never.
They made a strong final push last year but finished in second.
Never Say Never returned for another crack this year. They've been living in second place in recent weeks, determined to make one final lunge for the crown. We'll know Sunday if it happened.
Looking ahead, team member Pete Mollica said, "Never Say Never says never again! You can print that."
But teammate Tony Cella said, "Pete says that every year. I'd love to sit here and tell you I'm doing this again, but with that name, I can't promise that."