American Ninja Warrior Season 9 National Finals, Stage 1
Your Announcers: Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, and Kristine Leahy
The Course: Snake Run, Propeller Bar, Double Dipper (New Obstacle), Jumping Spider, Parkour Run, Warped Wall (with shorter run-up), Domino Pipes, Flying Squirrel.
In case you did not know the format, tonight’s course is hit the buzzer or go home.
Competitors will have 2 minutes, 35 seconds to complete all the obstacles in stage 1. All competitors who complete all the obstacles and hit the buzzer in the allotted time move onto stage 2. All competitors who don’t are done for the season.
Half the competitors will run tonight, while the other half will go next week.
- Gabe Hurtado, 32 year old Shoe Salesman
Hurtado, the number 6 qualifier in Los Angeles who made it all the way to Elevator Climb, became the first of many to fall at Double Dipper, the new obstacle.
- Karsten Williams, 36 year old Personal Trainer
Williams has made it to the national finals the last three years, and he’s fallen on stage one all three seasons.
That trend would continue as Williams fell for the fourth year in a row with Domino Pipes taking Williams down.
After the break, the show announced the much publicized news that Kacy Cantanzaro signed with the WWE this week, so next week could be her last run on American Ninja Warrior.
- Maggie Thorne, 35 year old Marketing Consultant
Thorne made her first National Finals appearance this season. Unfortunately, her first finals appearance ended awkwardly on Double Dipper.
- Chris DiGangi, 27 year old Software Developer
DiGangi started dating Jesse LeBreck this season. And in the video montage before his run, Chris credits his training with LeBreck for getting him to the National Finals for the first time in five seasons.
The training also appears to have helped DiGangi overcome the Jumping Spider, the obstacle that took him down in his last National Finals appearance.
DiGangi held on desperately on the last part of Domino Pipes and just barely made it through the seventh obstacle.
Unfortunately, DiGangi ran out of steam on the Flying Squirrel.
After the break, Jesse Lucero and Matt Holt both fell before hitting the buzzer.
- Brian Wilczewski, 25 year old Mechanical Engineer
Brian fell on the first obstacle (for the 2nd time in the National Finals). He decided to skip the first pad on Snake Run. It was a mistake.
- Nick Hanson, 29 year old Coach
The “Eskimo Ninja” is inspired by his mother, a recovering alcoholic whose six years sober, whose been at every one of Hanson’s run.
LA’s number 14 qualifier ran out of time on the last obstacle in Stage 1 last season.
And the time was going to be close again as Hanson made it to the final two obstacles with less than a minute to go.
This season, however, he hit the buzzer with just five seconds remaining on the clock.
Nick Hanson, moving onto Stage 2: 2:30.
- Judas Licciardello, 26 year old Auctioneer
Licciardello pretends to be talking on the phone before he starts the course. He puts the phone in his pocket, which is either fake or the Jersey auctioneer is really confident he’s not going to take a fall.
Sure enough, after doing a backflip to finish Double Dipper, Licciardello fell on the Jumping Spider.
- Barclay Stockett, 22 year old Gymnastics Coach
In her debut season, “Barclay Strong” climbed up the Warped Wall in the City Finals.
And her remarkable first run continued in the National Finals as Stockett became the first woman to complete Double Dipper and third to complete Jumping Spider.
A lot of time and energy were spent completing Parkour Run and Warped Wall. That time proved costly as the clock ran out on Stockett after she completed Domino Pipes.
Still, a great debut season for “Barclay Strong.”
Before the break, Anthony DeFranco, Yancey Quezada, and Kapu Gaison all fell.
After the break, Lucas Gomes, Lindsay Eskildsen, and Michael Torres all fell at various points on the course.
- Travis Rosen, 42 year old Stock Trader
Last season, Rosen fell on Stage 1 of the National Finals, breaking a five year streak of completing the stage.
After getting past the obstacle that took him down last season (Snake Run), Rosen nearly lost it again on Domino Pipes. But after just barely hanging on, Rosen climbed up the net and hit the buzzer with time to spare.
Travis Rosen (the oldest to ever complete stage 1), onto Stage 2: 2:12.
After the break, Jelani Allen, Luke Chambers, and Michael Johnson, all rookies, all fell on Double Dipper. That makes it 8 on the night.
Mike Tirico joins the booth to advertise Thursday night’s first NFL game and the Winter Olympics.
- Josh Levin, 23 year old Rock Climber
Before Josh’s run, it was revealed that Josh’s training partner and fellow National Finalist Charlie Andrews will not be competing due to a scary injury during training.
With Tirico providing commentary and Andrews looking on, Levin became the third competitor to complete the course.
Josh Levin, moving onto Stage 2, 2:21.
- Kevin Carbone, 22 year old Tennis Instructor
Carbone is that rare competitor who not only advanced to the National Finals, but created an obstacle that kept many others from doing so.
Unfortunately for “The Maker,” his rookie run came to an end on the Jumping Spider.
- Jesse LaBreck, 27 year old Ninja Coach
“Flex” LaBreck has found herself in the shadow of Jessie Graff simply because they have the same first name.
“Flex” got stuck on Parkour Run, costing her a lot of time before completing it.
She had only thirty seconds to complete Flying Squirrel, but LaBreck fell while trying to grab the net.
After the break, Spencer Johnson made it all the way to Flying Squirrel before time ran out. But Ian Dory and Thomas Stilling both hit the buzzer.
- JJ Woods, 30 year old Stuntman
Woods is returning to the National Finals after falling in qualifying last season. And the obstacle that took him down in 2016 looks eerily similar to the Double Dipper.
Not only did the Stuntman make it past the dreaded third obstacle, but he completely overshot the landing pad.
Then, Woods completely skipped the rope on Parkour Run and completed it anyway.
In the most exciting run of the night so far, Woods climbed the net and hit the buzzer with 16 seconds to spare.
JJ Woods, Moving onto Stage 2, 2:19.
After the break, Sean Darling-Hammond, Drew Knapp, Mike Bernardo, and Kevin Bull all advanced to Stage 2.
- Dan Yager, 34 year old Salon Owner
Yager became yet another victim on Double Dipper.
- Alyssa Beird, 26 year old Teacher
Beird hit the buzzer in Cleveland. She is the last female competitor this week with a shot to advance to Stage 2.
And after Beird’s run, there are now two women who’ve made it to Stage 2 of the National Finals as Beird hit the buzzer with 8 seconds to spare.
Alyssa Beird, moving on to Stage 2, 2:27.
After the break, Ben Baker fell at Flying Squirrel, while Flip Rodriguez and Brent Steffensen advanced to Stage 2.
- Joe Moravsky, 28 year old Meteorologist
“The Weatherman” holds the record time for completing the Stage 1 course. And entering this season, he’s never failed to qualify for Stage 2.
And for the fifth straight season, Moravsky not only qualified for Stage 2, but he recorded the night’s fastest time so far.
Joe Moravsky, moving on to Stage 2: 1:53.
- Lorin Ball, 30 year old Gym Owner
If anyone can beat “the Weatherman’s” time, it’s Lorin Ball. He’s go fast or go home every run.
This season, however, was a go home season for Ball as he fell on Double Dipper.
- Lance Pekus, 30 year old Rancher
Lance’s wife, Heather, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. But medicine held off symptoms until recently. Now, she needs a walker to get around the house. She’s watching from the couple’s home in Idaho as “The Cowboy Ninja” runs for her tonight.
And in his fourth National Finals appearance, Pekus not only advanced to Stage 2, he beat Moravsky for the night’s fastest time.
After finishing the course, “The Cowboy Ninja” put a little cowboy hat on the buzzer.
Lance Pekus, moving on to Stage 2: 1:50.
Your Competitors advancing to Stage 2….
- Lance Pekus
- Joe Moravsky
- Brent Steffensen
- Thomas Stillings
- Flip Rodriguez
- Travis Rosen
- Kevin Bull
- Mike Bernardo
- Eric Middleton
- Cass Clawson
- Michael Silenzi
- Nick Kostreski
- JJ Woods
- Josh Levin
- Drew Knapp
- Allyssa Beird
- Ian Dory
- Andrew Lowes
- Sean Darling-Hammond
- Nick Hanson
Drew Dreschel, Daniel Gill, Jessie Graff, Meagan Martin, and Kacy Cantanzaro(in what might be her final Ninja run) all compete in Stage 1 next week. See you then.
Photo Credit: David Becker/NBC | 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
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