What do you get when you mix freaky athletes, a hard ass obstacle course, and a battleship in the background? American Ninja Warrior Military Finals. This city finals featured both current and former military personnel who earned their way to the last ANW event before the Vegas Finals get cracking.
Let’s breakdown what happened in San Pedro, California.
Never thought of the luge as much of an athletic feat, but Preston Griffall showed me how wrong I was. This Olympian got past the very tough I-Beam Crossing that clipped him in qualifying. This guy was smiling the entire run, soaking up every moment. Unfortunately the Salmon Ladder got him for the second year in a row. That’s what happens when you don’t practice for one of the most difficult portions of the course. Visualization is great, but without the physical practice it doesn’t help much….clearly.
How’s 40 pull-ups sound? Yeah, sounds like hell. Nathan Tucker uses the 40 for a warm up and also used crowdfunding to pay for his trip. The Salmon Ladder got him too, but not before he struggled on the Warped Wall so bad he had to Google “how to beat Warped Wall.” Actually he got a tip to dry his shoes from ANW legend Sam Sann who was on hand.
I love Akbar’s enthusiasm on the commentary, but his advice mid run is kinda ridiculous sometimes. Has he completed any part of this course?
Christopher Moore Is a builder of bodies, great moniker! Dude constructs prosthetic limbs for hurt people. What better way to help others? Dude was super fit, especially at 43 years young. It looked like the Salmon Ladder wore him down a bit as he was no match for the Swinging Frames. Guy actually shook his head at the impossibility of reaching from the first frame to the next. Shit looked hard… and I was sitting on a couch nursing a beer, not hanging on for dear life.
I have to ask the question. Does the low body fat on these guys hurt them in the stamina department? Joe Rogan often makes this point when super ripped guys tire out after a couple rounds in the UFC. Cool to be shredded, but maybe another percentage point of fat helps get you over the hump.
Ahmed Toure is a speed climbing freak that could pass for Spiderman. His training reel was even more impressive than his Ninja run. He was casually dressed, and may have eaten a few Xanax before his run. Dude was chill! But he got his clubbing outfit wet when he slipped on the Globe Grasp. That obstacle isn’t totally impossible. It just takes complete focus on each move.
Vincent Klapper was a different type athlete. Kid is on the dunk team for the Boston Celtics. That helped little on the I-Beam which was a real bitch. He dedicated his run to his wife who has extreme leg troubles, but was unable to get through to the Nationals.
Who better to make sure Saddam Hussein doesn’t escape than a Ninja Warrior? Kyle Durand kept an eye on one of the worst people ever to walk the planet when he was in the military. For all we know, Durand was the hangman who put Hussein down for a permanent dirt nap. The I-Beam knocked him out of the running as he relied too much on his arms instead of using more leg grip.
I have been a fan of U.S. Marshals ever since Justified first aired. Jeremy Prather served in the military and is a current Marshal. I wish he would have had a Raylan Givens type line ready after his run, but his appreciation for his family was plenty. He moved on to Vegas with a 7th place finish.
It was cool to see a fighter pilot on ANW. Matthew Jensen is trusted with one of the most dangerous machines ever created, the F-16. This 5’8” dynamo had a hell of a run. He made it past the Grasping Globes with great technique, then fought like hell on the Invisible Ladder only to fall at about 20 feet up. Amazing run.
Ryan Pietschmann made a great run all the while making it look easy, according to Akbar. Don’t all these guys make it look easy to us at home with our feet propped up? This rescue swimmer slipped innocently on the Globes. It looked like he was home free then a little lapse put him in the drink.
I don’t know that I have ever seen a runner miss the Salmon Ladder as they bounced from the mini trampoline. I was a witness last night as Caleb Hayre did just that. It could have happened to anybody kid….but you’re the only one I can remember.
Strong is good. Strong and light is even better. Justin Gielski was just too heavy for the Globes. I loved his post run interview. You could hear his voice crack as he bragged on his family who was there to cheer him on with the magic fingers mojo!
I may have a new favorite Ninja. Being from Georgia does help Dustin McKinney a bit in my eyes. This 5’ 2” freak flew through the course and had the crowd absolutely amped! This year may be his last chance at ANW for a while as he is headed for a long tour at sea. All I can say is this kid is a bad MOFO. His two handed leap on the frames took huge stones and he didn’t even blink. Did I mention he is one bad MOFO? He made the invisible ladder look like a math problem to Stephen Hawking. This little man may be Napoleon reincarnated and I am gonna go ahead and gloss him Honey Badger. Such an impressive run and finish. Wow!
Veteran Ryan Stratis had a shot to match the Honey Badger, but fell short on the Invisible Ladder. He set a fast pace with his intense approach and I’m not sure this guy isn’t insane. He is a personal trainer so….
His run was epic until he jumped on that Invisible Ladder. He was fired up until about 15 feet up he looked like someone in the audience hit him with a blow dart. Dude started strugggggggling! He finally gave up and dropped, but finished the night in 3rd place, not a bad outing. I can see why so many people got behind this maniac.
In two weeks the Finals get underway. Next week be sure to check out the best runs of the 2015 season.