Last week’s taste of stage one in Las Vegas set us up for the second group this week on American Ninja Warrior. I love the fast pace that goes along with the finals and that was a pleasant surprise as I watched the first group. This week’s second group featured a few runners who took the faster pace to heart and ran like hell through stage one.
These quick times were impressive, though I wondered how many would get knocked out from going too fast. Let’s see how this group of finalists fared.
First up was Adam Arnold. He was more victim than runner on this night. He just got in a hurry as he moved from the Propeller Bar to the rope. That resulted in him taking a spill and ending his run in 2015.
Preston Griffall was next to challenge stage one. This Olympic luge athlete was very patient in his run, but got behind due to the Warped Wall. He made it through the Coin Flip with ease only to miss on the Triple Swing. So close, yet so far away from the buzzer and stage two.
The first Akbar highlight came when the “Flying Squirrel,” Jonathan Parr, made his run. “Go get your nut” was Akbar’s call to action for the young man who nutted up on the Sonic Curve. His momentum caused a misstep on the last step before the rope.
I felt great about Grant McCartney finishing the course. He was the young man who lost both his mom and grandma last year. This guy is all power, so stage one seemed like it would be a challenge for him. It was not! Dude had no trouble at all and moved on to stage two.
By the way the season finale is next week for American Ninja Warrior. I am stoked about seeing my first finale, though it seems like a quick wrap up to this season. That does not bode well for the warriors who survive this week.
I liked Rose Wetzel’s Wonder Woman pose. Her run started off less than wonderful though as she stumbled on the opening obstacle. Her night and season ended as she was way short on her leap to the Propeller Bar.
It’s easy to take Jamie Rahn lightly with his silly get-up and green hair. Don’t get it twisted though. He is a threat to win. Legit. His body control and balance made stage one easy as pie for this veteran ninja.
Brendan Couvreux made a big impression on his city finals course, one of the toughest of all the course I witnessed. He fell short of my expectations as he couldn’t even reach the Propeller Bar with his weak leap. Dude was very light so that played a huge role in his fall.
I have no idea who says “exterminators aren’t athletes.” But apparently Akbar Gbaja Biamila hears it all the time. For all I know most exterminators can run the 40 in 4.6 seconds and bench their own body weight 20 times. I don’t judge these warriors by career choice. Anyway, Pavel Fesyuk proved he is indeed a superb athlete. He survived an ugly pass through the Coin Flip to hit the buzzer with just .99 seconds left. Great run by an average Joe.
Helmets might be a good idea for some guys on ANW. Josh Cook would have benefited from a dome protector after he got popped in the head by the Propeller Bar. He moved past that section, but it may have caused him to lose his way on the Silk Slider. Don’t know if he had a mild concussion, but he’ll have plenty of time to recoup in the offseason.
Anthony Scott had a wild spin on the Propeller Bar, rotating six times before snatching the rope. That would have done many a runner in. He shook the dizziness off and finished the course to the delight of his daughter who was absolutely jacked throughout his run. Very cool to see the familys’ enthusiasm for these ninja warriors.
The cowboy ninja, Lance Pekus, was determined to get past the Spider Jump, which knocked him out of the finals two years running. I’m glad he made it past his stumbling point since we got a longer look at his family. I don’t think there is an average looking family member among the Pekus crew. Lance finished the entire course and will try to lasso stage two next week.
If it sounds like there were a lot of guys beating stage one, then you’re correct. There were more finishers this year (38) than ever before.
Isaac Caldiero was a stage two qualifier after his run. This guy has quite a life, living in an RV with his girlfriend traveling about, moving on after they are bored with one climbing location after another. That sounds a lot more like living than signing up for a 30 year mortgage and working in the same boring career for most of your days.
This ninja lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but most of these guys and gals seem happier than the average person just working 9-5 jobs.
I finally got to see what all the hype was about when Kacy Catanzaro made her run at stage one. This beauty is a fan favorite and not just for her looks. She has that extra “it” that makes fans take notice.
This little dynamo is just five foot tall weighing in at 90 pounds. That explains what happened on her trampoline jump. She needed all the power possible just to have a chance to make it to the Propeller. Too much emphasis on getting a powerful launch and not enough on hitting the trampoline properly. She basically leaped over the tramp without even giving herself a chance. Kinda embarrassing and truly heartbreaking for the lady ninja.
She was quite emotional afterward as Kristine Leahy talked with her. All that training and one misstep, over. She is a big motivator to her fans so she didn’t want to appear too down, but did say “It’s Ok to be upset.” It reminded me of Aaron Rodgers saying he would “sit with his disappointment” after Green Bay’s meltdown against Seattle. It truly is better to “be with” our failures for a short time than to act like they never happened.
I was disappointed also to see U.S. Marshal Jeremy Prather get knocked out of contention. Still no Raylan Givens line.
J.J. woods went the paleo diet route to up his game. Kid lost 13 pounds to improve his chances this season. He ended his run hitting the buzzer for the 8th fastest time among all the stage two qualifiers. Woods was very impressive last night. His run might just push me to a test run of the paleo thing.
Joe Moravsky could be called the “Pro Ninja” just as easily as the “Weatherman Ninja.” His methodical destruction of stage one is a blueprint for all runners. His focus was zeroed in on each section, not taking any for granted. He moved on with ease.
Elet Hall’s speed cost him. He was flashy with his quick run, but it all ended on the Spider Jump. Got to be precise on the landing. Quick is good, but got to stay in the game. Another favorite bounced.
Jake Murray is a cool customer. He ended up with the second fastest time of all the advancers to stage two. He ran as though he had no care in the world. Very impressive that he beat Kevin Bull’s time from last week.
Unfortunately Meagan Martin was another fan favorite who had their season end last night. She passed the Spider Jump, but ran out of steam at the Warped Wall. She kept trying until the horn went off, but had nothing left to give. Once again, I don’t understand why most of the runners don’t start from the top of the platform for more momentum.
The fastest time of the night went to Brent Steffensen who finally got some redemption after a couple seasons of disappointing endings. He has to be a favorite going into the finale next week. His lady friend Kacy Caldiero got eliminated so he will carry the torch for both of them.
Next week should be a great wrap up to the season. I do hate to see the season end just when I am starting to know the athletes involved and how this whole thing works.
I wouldn’t bet on anyone beating all four stages either, since it has never happened and it seems like one episode wouldn’t be enough to show that much action. It would be nice to see a warrior grab that million dollar prize. Although the challenge being so monstrous does set this show and competition apart.