American Ninja Warrior: Veterans Return Strong in LA

This season of American Ninja Warrior is here.  It will be full of vengeance, big runs, rookies and more women.  In fact, the Top 5 women will now make the City Finals automatically.

Here are the obstacles.  The all new Battering Ram and Cannonball Drop were tricky, and several people took hits on the Flying Wheels.

  1. Floating Steps
  2. Cannonball Drop
  3. Flying Wheels
  4. Block Run
  5. Battering Ram
  6. Warped Wall

Veterans Return Strong

Kevin Bull showed his campers at C.A.P. that Alopecia and other conditions like it can be overcome.  He put up the 3rd fastest time in his 4th season.  He bulled through the course and finished in 1:33.

Grant McCartney was never a speedy ninja, but he dominated again.  However, he also got the fastest time this time around.  He had a huge save on the Block Run too.  He sped up the Warped Wall and just beat Adam Rahn’s time.  He had no problem with the tough Battering Ram and finished strong.

Flip Rodriguez decided to take his time this year, but after overcoming adversity that he faced as a kid, he looked like a true veteran on the course.  He nailed all the obstacles and finished strong by owning the Battering Ram and speeding up the Warped Wall like always.  I’m a big fan of Flip, and I hope he can make it to Vegas again.

David Campbell looked like himself as he fled through the first four obstacles, but the new Battering Ram that tripped up so many good ninjas was too tough for him.  However, he still did the rest of the course in 51 seconds, which led to him making the City Finals.

Nick Hanson, AKA the Eskimo Ninja, trained with Grant McCartney in the off-season, and it payed off.  He hit the buzzer with a Top 10 time after coming all the way from Alaska.

Brian Wilczewski also did well.

No Such Thing as a Sophomore Slump

Adam Rayl made it far in his rookie season and showed no sign of a sophomore slump.  He nearly finished with the fastest time, dominating the new obstacles and finishing in under a minute and 30 seconds.

Josh Levin also showed up strong for the second straight season.  He made it to Vegas last year, and followed it up with a strong and fast run to make the City Finals.  He doesn’t have the speed of Rahn but he does have just as much Vegas potential.

Interesting Backstory = Good Run

Daniel Moreno had to have 30% of his brain taken out via surgery, but after taking a huge hit on the Flying Wheels, he made it all the way to the Warped Wall.  However, he had ran out of steam and failed to run up the wall.  He still made City Finals.

Anthony Trucks, the former NFL linebacker, finished the course with a Top 10 time in front of his family.  He ended the trend of struggling football players and dominated the course after being treated poorly as a kid.

Benjamin Humphrys was inspired by his autistic brother to come on the show.  He redefined the stereotype of hairdressers and dominated the course, impressing his brother and the rest of his family and friends.  

Joe Heiden has been battling serious forms of cancer for 3 years, but still managed to stay in shape and complete almost 2 obstacles on the course before falling on Cannonball Drop.

Riles Nganga showed his kids that they could do anything they put their mind to.  Nganga is a tow truck driver and has managed to stay in shape and train for Ninja Warrior.  He successfully made it up the Warped Wall and locked up a spot in the City Finals.

Charlie Andrews is Josh Levin’s training partner, and did very well in the College Madness season of Team Ninja Warrior.  His work with Levin and training on Team Ninja Warrior paid off and he hit the buzzer with Levin cheering him on on the sidelines.

Tyler Vogt made it all the way to the Warped Wall with two artificial knees.  However, he couldn’t gain the momentum to get up to the buzzer.  His run on the Battering Ram was impressive though.
Women Do Well After Rule Change

More women have come to compete as Ninja Warrior is now including the Top 5 women in the City Finals.

Zhanique Lovett was not treated well as a kid, but overcame that and she now has 3 great kids who were watching or doing flips  (one of her boys was) on the sidelines.  In the meantime, she became the first woman to complete the Battering Ram, but not even she could get up the Warped Wall, so no woman finished the course.  She had the best women’s run of the night though and would’ve made City Finals either way.

Tiana Webberley is Flip Rodriguez’s training partner, but like most of the other women, she met her match at the Battering Ram.  She did have a pretty fast time though.

April Steiner Bennett is a former Olympic pole vaulter.  She actually competed with Jessie Graff in pole vaulting.  Pole vaulters have a good history on Ninja Warrior, and Steiner Bennett continued that when she made it all the way to the Battering Ram before her arms gave out.

Rebekah Bonilla has come so close each of the last two years’ qualifiers, but she fell on the 5th obstacle again this season.  This time was different though, as she made the City Finals because of the new rule.
Paige Chapman and Anna Christensen both tackled the course early on and they both fell on the Battering Ram.  The transitions were hard for them, as Chapman, the Li’l Beast is only 5 feet tall and Christensen is not much taller.
Run of The Night 

This has to go to Grant McCartney.  He was the last ninja to run, and they saved the best for last.  He sped through the first three obstacles, had a big save on Block Run, powered through the Battering Ram and successfully ran up the Warped Wall right after he got off the Battering Ram.  He finished with the fastest time of the night, faster than speed demon Kevin Bull and sophomore dominator Adam Rayl.  What impresses me most about the Island Ninja is that he’s never been this fast on the course, but he finished in 1 minute 26 seconds this year.

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