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‘Biggest Loser’ season 16: Meet the contestants

NBC announced its “Biggest Loser” season 16 cast today, and threw a few twists into the show, which premieres on Thursday, Sept. 11.

Andrea Wilamowski
Andrea Wilamowski
Trae Patton/NBC
The season 16 contestants for 'The Biggest Loser,' which premieres on NBC Thursday, Sept. 11.
The season 16 contestants for 'The Biggest Loser,' which premieres on NBC Thursday, Sept. 11.
Trae Patton/NBC

There’s a sporty theme to the new season – Glory Days. All of the 20 contestants have a background as athletes, either in high school, college, the pros and even the Olympics.

Yes, there are more Olympians this season, including Olympic gold medalist and tennis star Zina Garrison and gold medal softball player Lori Harrigan-Mack. Other former pro athletes include WNBA player Vanessa Hayden, NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell, and offensive lineman and Super Bowl champ Damien Woody, who is now an ESPN analyst.

In case you missed the news, Jillian Michaels will not be back for this season. Bob Harper will be back but in a different role, so joining Dolvett Quince on the ranch will be trainers Jessie Pavelka and and Jennifer Widerstrom. Pavelka (yep, he’s related to “Bachelor” Jake Pavelka) has had plenty of TV time in the past, starring on the Lifetime reality show DietTribe and a couple of British weight-loss reality shows. Widerstrom was featured on the NBC series “American Gladiators.”

So what about Bob? Our favorite tattooed trainer will be giving eliminated contestants a second chance to succeed on the show. Every week, the eliminated contestant will think they’re going home but instead they will be sent to a secret location called “Comeback Canyon” where they’ll be greeted by Harper (probably brandishing heavy ropes or something equally sinister). They will have a separate weekly weigh-in for the chance to return to the competition and a shot at “The Biggest Loser” title.

Viewers will know that Harper is in the cast, but it’ll be interesting to see what the contestants think when they don’t see him on the “Biggest Loser” ranch.

Here’s a little more on the cast, which, given their backgrounds, promises to be very competitive:

  • Jordan Alicandro (former high school baseball star; currently regional sales manager), 32, Surrey, BC, Canada
  • Rondalee Beardslee (former high school basketball, football and softball player; currently nursing student), 28, New Lothrop, MI
  • Blake Benge (former high school soccer, track star; currently student), 18, San Clemente, CA
  • Howard “Woody” Carter (former Arena League football player; currently car salesman), 46, Las Vegas, NV
  • Toma Dobrosavljevic (former high school soccer, football, volleyball, baseball player; currently senior project manager), 33, Addison, IL
  • Zina Garrison (gold medal-winning tennis player; currently professional tennis coach), 50, Hyattsville, MD
  • Rob Guiry (former rugby player; currently rugby coach), 26, Springfield, MA
  • Gina Haddon (former cheerleader; currently make-up artist/photographer), 41, Rowlett, TX
  • Lori Harrigan-Mack (three-time Olympic gold medal-winning softball player; currently director of security for a Las Vegas hotel), 44, Las Vegas, NV
  • Vanessa Hayden (former WNBA basketball player; currently a child welfare specialist), 32, Orlando, FL
  • Sonya Jones (former All America softball player; currently PE teacher/coach), 39, Springfield, IL
  • Chandra Maple (former high school softball, basketball star; currently optometric technician), 26, Dodge City, KS
  • Matthew Miller (former high school football standout; currently business entrepreneur), 31, Grove, OK
  • Scott Mitchell (12-year NFL quarterback; currently bill collector), 46, Mapleton, UT
  • Emmy Lou Munoz (former high school softball, volleyball and track and field star; currently teacher), 32, Woodson, TX
  • Mike Murburg (former Princeton football player and wrestler; currently an attorney representing the disabled), 58, Darby, FL
  • John “JJ” O’Malley (former Arizona State University football player; currently bouncer), 22, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Jackie Pierson (former high school basketball MVP; currently clinical care coordinator), 36, Pacifica, CA
  • Andrea Wilamowski (former high school cheerleader; currently vice president of operations, Detroit Pride Cheerleaders), 43, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
  • Damien Woody (two-time Super Bowl champion; currently an ESPN analyst), 36, Mendham, NJ