America Ninja Warrior Season 9 Kansas City Qualifiers
Your Announcers: Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, and Kristine Leahy
The Course, In Order: Floating Steps, Hang Glider (new obstacle), Broken Pipes (new obstacle), Crank It Up (new obstacle), Bar Hop, Warped Wall
I’m not sure how the Kansas City competitors were “lucky” enough to draw three new obstacles (and all in a row).
- Chris Lange, 32 year old High School Teacher
So Chris’s groundbreaking strategy was to wear short shorts for his qualifying run. His daughter was crying as he started his run, so I guess she didn’t care much for the short shorts.
The short shorts were only good enough to get Chris through 2 obstacles before falling hard on Broken Pipes.
- Derrick Pavoni, 23 year old Pizza Maker
They really had to stretch to make Derrick’s story interesting. I think we could have skipped the whole human interest story on Pavoni since it pretty much revolved around him making pizza (really thrilling stuff).
The pizza maker did become the first one to ever complete Broken Pipes before falling on Crank It Up.
After the break, Jason Cerny, Rohan Sebastian, and Patrick Cornett all fell on those early obstacles.
- Omar Naffa, 35 year old Bar Owner
Omar’s journey to America from Jordan is going to be the subject of an upcoming movie. So why did we not get a video of that journey instead of watching pizza boy?
Omar nearly lost his way on the 2nd obstacle, but held on by his elbows and pulled himself up on Hang Glider. However, like many of the competitors so far, Omar could not get past Broken Pipes.
- Sarah Schoback, 32 year old Ninja Gym Owner
“The Ninja of the North” was a stay at home mom who was inspired to open up her own gym so she would be able to train while watching her daughters.
And Schoback just barely held on at Broken Pipes to advance to the fourth stage. While she fell on Crank it Up, Schoback did set herself up for a potential top five finish with her run.
- Rich Talavera, 70 year old Pharmacy Tech
If Rich completes an obstacle, he’ll beat John Loobey’s record (set last week) of being the oldest competitor to do so. “The Never Stop Ninja” has also had a stroke (back in 2010) and hip replacement surgery. So now we are all officially out of excuses for why we are not competing on American Ninja Warrior.
And Rich did it, breaking the record has he held on completing Floating Steps before falling on Hang Glider.
- Hunter Guerard, 28 year old Gym Manager
“The Lizard” gets his nickname from his absurdly long tongue.
And Hunter made the first three stages look easy, running through them in less than 30 seconds.
“The Lizard” also became the first man to get through Crank It Up before making a big mistake: jumping backwards on the Bar Hop. We’ll see if Hunter’s time is good enough to advance him to the city finals.
Before the break, Steve Haupt, Dan Banura, and Brent Ruffin all fell at various points of the course.
After the break, Cassie Craig, Daniel Carbaugh, and Morgan “Moose” Wright all fell. But the “Moose” did make it to the Bar Hop before falling.
- Brandon Mears, 34 year old Firefighter
Mears is the first of the “Towers of Power” duo. We’ll see if these guys do better than the pair of duos who competed in San Antonio.
Mears does have a touching story of his upcoming fatherhood, a struggle that took him and his wife six years and required surgery to make happen.
And for the third year in the row, Mears hit the buzzer, becoming the night’s first finisher.
Brandon Mears, Course Completed, 2:41.91
After the break, Jason Douglas, Michael Bougher, and Sara Hessen all fell with the last two falling on Crank It Up.
- Devin Harrleson, 32 year old Tattoo Artist
“Doug E Fresh” fell on the first obstacle in Atlanta last year. But he had no issues with the Floating Steps this year.
And not only did Devin complete the first obstacle. He made it all the way to the Warped Wall, but just couldn’t reach high enough to complete the course.
After the break, Adam Arnold, Wesley Owens Jr. both fell on Broken Pipes (a common theme on the night). But Justin Cramer and Annie Dudek found ways to make it across. Dudek currently sits second among the women.
- Jimmy Choi, 41 year old Technology Consultant
Jimmy has been battling with some form of Parkinson’s disease since he was 27 years old. But since 2012, he’s been exercising, which helps him deal with his condition.
Jimmy has also been a major fundraiser for Team Fox, the charity run by Michael Fox that raises money for Parkinson’s research.
A special message from Michael Fox was aired for Jimmy right before his run. Choi was able to complete two stages before falling on Broken Pipes. Despite not completing the course, Jimmy’s run was still impressive.
After the break, Lori Ann Lloyd became the oldest woman to complete an obstacle at 55 years old before falling on Broken Pipes.
Adam Williams and Jeremy Taiwo also fell on Broken Pipes
- Brittany Reid, 30 year old Real Estate Agent
Last year’s top female finisher in Atlanta did overcome Broken Pipes, the obstacle that’s taken down so many on the night.
But she fell reaching for the last part of Crank it Up. However, Brittany does have a good shot making the top 5 female’s list.
- Jelani Allen, 21 year old College Student
The youngest competitor in Kansas City drove 26 hours with his grandfather to get to this competition.
Jelani’s run would be best described as resourceful. On both the Hang Glider and Broken Pipes, Jelani looked to be dead to right, but the rookie held on just long enough to find a way to complete the obstacle.
And Jelani took that momentum all the way to the Warped Wall, where all ten days spent in the walk-on line payed off as Allen hit the buzzer.
Jelani Allen, Course Completed, 4:06.31
- Kyle Schultze, 27 year old Grocer
Another inspirational story tonight is Kyle, who has been deaf since he was 2 and ½ years old.
And his first run was quite successful, as Kyle made it all the way to Bar Hop before falling. Kyle seems likely to make it to the city finals with that run.
Before the break, Mitch Vedepo, Kyle Mendoza, and Bobby Bohannon all fell on the Bar Hop.
After the break, Todd Mitchell made it all the way to the Warped Wall but was unable to get to the top. Tyler Yamahuchi, however, did manage to hit the buzzer.
- Maggi Thorne, 35 year old Marketing Consultant
A sad story here as Maggi, a course veteran, shared the story of her separation from her husband, fellow ninja competitor Fred Thorne. I give a lot of credit to her for her willingness to share that story instead of just sweeping it under the rug and pretending like they were never together.
And Maggi made a great run out of it falling in the middle of Crank It Up.
After the break, firefighters Dennis Lappin, Dave Cavanagh, and Dan Polizzi (the third member of the Towers of Power) all qualified for the city finals. The first two hit the buzzer while Polizzi fell at Bar Hop.
- Ethan Swanson, 27 year old YouTube Stuntman
That is an actual career path. Though after seeing Ethan’s videos from 60 feet are higher up, I’m not interested.
As for the course, Swanson had no issue, completing the course with one of the night’s fastest time.
Ethan Swanson, Course Completed, 2:54.94
After the break, Zanny Henseler’s fall sent Maggi Throne to the city finals. Then, Nicole Heyboer’s fall sent Sara Hessen through.
- Lance Pekus, 30 year old Rancher
“The Cowboy Ninja” fell in qualifying last year after making the national finals the previous 3 seasons.
And running in his trademark cowboy hat and jeans, Pekus nearly fell again, just barely hanging on and pulling himself up on Broken Pipes.
But after that near miss, Pekus moved easily through the rest of the course recording the night’s fastest time.
Lance Pekus, Completed Course, 2:10.16
And Your Kansas City Top 30….
- Lance Pekus
- Brandon Mears
- Tyler Yamauchi
- Tyler Smith
- Ethan Swanson
- Broc Bebout
- Dave Cavanagh
- Ben Baker
- Jelani Allen
- Dennis Lappin
Failed On Warped Wall
- Devin Harrelson
- Todd Mitchell
Failed on Bar Hop
- Hunter Guerard
- Kyle Mendoza
- Jeremiah Morgan
- Dan Polizzi
- Eric Middleton
- Drew Hendry
- Alex Carson
- Mitch Vedepo
- Brad Spine
- Bobby Bohannon
- Wes Whitlam
- Kyle Schulze
- Morgan “Moose” Wright
Failed on Crank It Up
- Michael Bougher
- Deren Perez
- Donovan Metoyer
- Craig Schafer
- Spencer Johnson
And Your Top 5 Females….
All Failed on Crank It Up
- Sarah Schoback
- Annie Dudek
- Abby Paul
- Maggi Thorne
- Sara Hessen
Just two more weeks of qualifying remain. The show heads to Cleveland next week. See you then!!!
Photo Credit: Eddy Chen/NBC | 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
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