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American Ninja Warrior Oklahoma City qualifiers recap: New legends rise

The Oklahoma City qualifying course gave us some new Ninjas to talk about.

Brett Deering/NBC

The American Ninja Warrior Oklahoma city qualifiers have arrived.

It was a city of Ninja legends as we awaited runs from the likes of Kacy Catanzaro, Brent Steffensen and Sam Sann. It was also a city of shockers as new names rose to the top of the pack, and all-stars seemed to struggle to find their footing.

Thomas Stillings came out of no where and landed the fastest run of the night while wearing pants that had Kristine Leahy slightly concerned.

Daniel Gill returned for his second season and did not disappoint, missing the top time of the night by sheer moments.

Nate Burkhalter has waited in the walk-on line for the past 2 years. This year, he returned as an official contestant and didn’t let the opportunity slip by as he turned in the first finish of the night.

Allison Toepperwein may have gone out while transferring off the Floating Steps, but her story of battling Parkinson’s Disease will leave fans cheering her on.

Brian Beckstrand built his family a backyard course consisting of over 40 obstacles, and it paid off with an impressive finish.

Here’s What You Missed

Course Completions: 15

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle Bar Hop: 3

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle the Tire Swing: 8

Ninjas taken out by the classic Log Runner: 10

Heartbreaker Moment

Kacy Catanzaro is absolutely one of the athletes most responsible for bringing American Ninja Warrior to a new level of public awareness. Her runs in Season 6 are the stuff of legends. First woman up the Warped Wall. First woman to complete a City Finals course. She’s an all around expert athlete that taught us to never doubt someone’s Ninja abilities based on their size.

Kacy had a few early exists in Season 7, but she was determined to come back strong this year. Flashbacks showed us just how badly Kacy wanted to make another historic run.

So when she went out on the Log Runner in Oklahoma City, we felt for her. But as fans, we weren’t let down. Kacy has already done so much for the sport. We just want to make sure we see her season after season.

Heart-pounding Moment

Artis Thompson III continued this season’s legacy of proving that success isn’t at the buzzer, it’s at the starting line.

Artis has faced some terrifying hurdles in the past few years. He lost his older brother, who he referred to as a father-figure, in a motorcycle accident. Then, he lost his leg in an accident.

His focus and resilience is apparent. But it was tested after he fell on the Log Runner. Instead of an automatic out, Artis pulled strength from every corner of his mind and body to somehow defy logic and wedge his way across the remaining logs.

While it tapped his muscles, and he took a swim from the Tire Swing, it was an epic moment. It was a Ninja flat out saying no to the odds and ignoring expectations.

Lesson of the night: Don’t overlook the details

Generally, American Ninja Warrior’s new digital series, ‘Crashing the Course’ gives us a hint at the obstacle most likely to take out competitors in each city. The Oklahoma City episode focused on the Bar Hop. So it was a little surprising to see it paled in comparison to the Tire Swing.

The Tire Swing was the 4th obstacle on the course and looked entirely basic. Competitors needed to swing between 3 ‘tires’ to dismount safely. But the devil was in the details. The second tire was connected to a bungee cord, meaning it sapped momentum from the forward swing. The third tire had a cap on the top, preventing Ninjas from wrapping their arms through it when they’re at their most exhausted.

Don’t let the hype fool you, Ninjas. These obstacles find a way of tricking you.

Here are the 30 Ninjas you'll see at the Oklahoma City finals:

  • Thomas Stillings
  • Daniel Gil
  • David Campbell
  • Kyle Mendoza
  • Cass Clawson
  • Brian Beckstrand
  • Geoff Lancaster
  • Thomas Doweidt
  • Nate Burkhalter
  • James Wyatt
  • An Ly
  • Karsten Williams
  • Jon Stewart
  • Tremayne Dortch
  • Andrew Lowes
  • Hamidulah Khazi
  • Jessell Boseman
  • Diron Jones
  • Andrew Potter
  • Jared Bandy
  • Mitch VeDepo
  • Brent Steffensen
  • Reid Pletcher
  • Chris Moore
  • Brian Doom
  • Brian Burkhardt
  • Clayton Wolf
  • Sudul Diahkah
  • Grant Clinton
  • Alexander Moran

Next Monday, we’re heading to Philadelphia to catch up with the likes of Geoff Britten and Joe Moravskey.