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American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff offers advice to Houston after their surprising Team Ninja Warrior loss

After an upset in the final relay, Houston’s team got some words of wisdom from the best.

On the first episode of Team Ninja Warrior College Madness, we saw the University of Houston battle their way to the final relay run against the University of Georgia.

Houston had a strong team consisting of Haley Houston, Mathis Owhadi and Zach Tomayo. They’d managed to pull out five wins against Texas Christian University and the University of Florida.

Mathis and Zach both train with American Ninja Warriors Daniel Gil and Sam Sann in Houston and it showed. Both were incredibly confident on the classic Warped Wall.

Which is why it was so shocking when Zach had an error on the Salmon Ladder in the final relay, another obstacle that’s like second nature to Ninjas. He landed in the water, with no way to recover, disqualifying the team. The win then went to Georgia.

Shortly after, Mathis and Zach met up with Jessie Graff, the first woman to ever complete Stage One at the National Finals. Jessie offered her wisdom on how the team can come back stronger than ever.

Mathis wished he could have gone faster on the Pole Grasper (although he was pretty darn fast).

Jessie’s advice:

  • Leap for the farthest pole you can get to
  • Use the momentum from your jump to immediately swing to the next pole
  • Use your feet

When Jessie asked about their favorite obstacles or challenges, Zach quietly brought up his Salmon Ladder fall. By the look on his face, you could tell how disappointed he was to miss it.

Jessie’s advice:

  • Don’t rush the Salmon Ladder
  • Every ladder is different

Zach brought up the valid point that to get to the Salmon Ladder, he had transferred from a trampoline instead of just a dead hang, something he hadn’t trained on before.

Jessie’s advice:

  • To control your momentum from a trampoline, pull up when you grab the Salmon Ladder and bring your legs up as close to the bar as possible to stop the swinging
  • If you’re feeling brave, you could try to use the momentum to jump up a rung on your back swing, but it’s a risky move

They then talked about training specifically for Team Ninja Warrior. After Mathis discussed training with Sam Sann, Jessie asked about his grip strength. Here, Mathis revealed he was actually recovering from a shoulder injury the year before. This had made him more conservative and cautious in his training while also encouraging him to try several different forms of exercise, like Parkour and rock climbing.

Jessie’s advice:

  • Plan one intense grip strength training day
  • Then take two days off to work other muscles groups
  • This is how she strives to prevent injuries
  • Learning various disciplines is key to Ninja training
  • Get good at one skill and then move on to master something else
  • You have to be adaptable

Mathis and Zach express interest not only in coming back for another College Madness, but also being on American Ninja Warrior (once they’re old enough). Their training with Daniel Gil and Sam Sann, combined now with the experience of taking on the high pressure environment of a TV shoot leaves them uniquely prepared.

If they can take Jessie’s advice to heart, they have a chance to focus on the areas that caught them off guard and come back as a team to be reckoned with.