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Indianapolis Qualifying Recap: Everything you ever wanted in one episode

Indianapolis kept us glued to the TV as records were broken and incredible Ninjas took to the course.

Joe Robbins/NBC

The Indianapolis qualifiers were everything an American Ninja Warrior fan could want. We had records broken when Meagan Martin became the first female to finish a qualifying course 3 years in a row.

Lorin Ball, who has appeared on every season of American Ninja Warrior showed that consistency pays off as he took the fastest time of the night.

Drew Knapp has been training with his younger brother, and it paid off with a completed course and a surprise handstand.

We held our breath as Michaela Kiersch went out with just a flick of water.

Turkey farmer Eric Sietsema tried not to take flight on the Rolling Log.

The all the members of the WolfPack who competed completed the course, sending Ian Dory, Brian Arnold, Dan Yager, and of course, Meagan Martin to the city finals.

This run is exactly why we’re Ninja Warrior fans

Zach Gowen, who lost a leg to cancer as a child, shocked and moved us all with an inspired run.

There were even cute dogs as Andrew “Roo” Yori brought his 4 legged companions out to raise awareness for dog adoption and rescue.

Here’s What You Missed

Course Completions: 25

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle Disc Runner: 4

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle the Fly Wheel: 8

Ninjas taken out by the classic Rolling Log: 4

Heartbreaker Moment:

Michael Stanger first appeared last season as a walk-on who ran to inspire his family. Michael’s wife, Enedina, has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a rare and painful genetic condition. His trip to the top of the Warped Wall is a classic Ninja Warrior moment.

Since then, Michael and Enedina’s 2 young daughters have also been diagnosed with the same disorder. When daily life can feature so much pain, focusing on American Ninja Warrior has allowed the family some much-needed mental relief.

That’s why it stung so badly to see Stanger go out on Disc Runner, not for a big splash into the water, but for a small misstep that caused him to tumble off the landing pad. He immediately went to the open arms of his family, but we would have liked to see him at the top of the wall again.

Heart-pounding Moment:

Do we really need to even say who earned this run? Zach Gowen. Write that name down because he’s one to remember. Zach is a WWE wrestler who lost his leg at age 8 to cancer. He later revealed that completing the Floating Steps was his goal, which makes his run even more impressive.

He landed on each floating step with one leg. He seemed to defy gravity when he clung to the Rolling Log. The crowd was going wild as he approached the Fly Wheels, which would require him to land a trampoline launch to even begin the wheels.

There is a moment before Zach jumps where he looks up at the wheels with nothing short of astonishment and thankfulness in his eyes. Zach’s look was laying eyes on something he never thought it would be possible to see, and it was down right beautiful.

He nailed the trampoline jump, but missed on the transfer to the second Fly Wheel. Honestly though, this was one of those runs were no one cared that it didn't end at the buzzer. It was a complete triumph.

Lesson of the night: This is a specific discipline. Athleticism does not equal success.

A big promo for the episode was the inclusion of 4 well-known race car drivers. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan, and Helio Castroneves all took to the course over the evening. Stenhouse and Kanaan both went out on the Rolling Log. Newgarden and Castroneves stuck around to the Fly Wheel. None would crack the top 30.

While these men are all accomplished athletes, they have not been dedicated to training for Ninja Warrior (for the obvious reason that, well, they’ve been busy racing). It was great to see them out there, and they all had a great time and rallied the crowds. But it was also a reminder that the Ninjas are dedicated athletes who are preparing for this moment year-round. Very few people can just pull it off.


We couldn’t get enough of Zach Gowen. So here’s 30 of his greatest wrestling moves in one lovely video.

Here’s the 30 Ninjas you'll see at the Indianapolis City Finals!

  • Lorin Ball
  • Jake Murray
  • Adam Arnold
  • Dan Yager
  • Brian Arnold
  • Ian Dory
  • Brandon Mears
  • Dan Polizzi
  • Eric Middleton
  • Theodore “TC” Tronquet
  • Ethan Swanson
  • Dan Banura
  • Tyler Yamauchi
  • Drew Knapp
  • Zack Kemmerer
  • Matt Wilder
  • Tyler Smith
  • PJ Granger
  • Andrew “Roo” Yori
  • Kevin Hogan
  • Ryan Elliot
  • Jonathan Cooley
  • Andrew Rowland
  • Fred Thorne
  • Meagan Martin
  • Adam Stroup
  • Alex Bienz
  • Bryce Foley
  • Ben Jackson
  • Dr. John Murray Adams

Next Monday, we’re heading to Oklahoma City. There, we’ll catch up with the likes of Kacy Catanzaro, Brent Steffensen, and Sam Sann as they look for their path to the top of Mount Midoriyama.