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American Ninja Warrior Philadelphia City Finals recap: No to buzzers, yes to victory

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The Philadelphia City Finals were tough, but the Ninjas found a way to still make history.

Mitchell Leff/NBC

The Philadelphia City Finals course was took no prisoners. For the first time in a City Finals, no Ninjas were able to hit the buzzer, leaving the course undefeated.

But that doesn’t mean it was a slow night for American Ninja Warrior. Four female Ninjas took the course. Michelle Warnky, Jesse Labreck, Rachael Goldstein and Allyssa Beird all qualified for the City Finals, the most in American Ninja Warrior History.

Allyssa Beird led the night, but went out on Rolling Thunder.

Michelle Warnky also was stopped at the Rolling Thunder, missing her shot at the National Finals.

Philadelphia local Najee Richardson proved that the Stair Hopper was not kidding around.

Rachael Goldstein miscalculated her jump on the Wall Drop.

Joe Moravsky made it all the way to the Invisible Ladder before he ran out of gas.

Jamie Rahn has an adorable dog. Oh, and he made it to the Stair Hopper.

Chris Wilczewski also made it to the Invisible Ladder, securing his place in Vegas.

Jesse Labreck blew the crowd away by becoming the first female to beat Rolling Thunder.

Geoff Britten didn’t hit the buzzer, but he did make it to the Stair Hopper.

Here’s What You Missed:

Course Completions: Zero, zilch, nada. NONE

Ninjas taken out by new obstacle the Stair Hopper : 8

Ninjas taken out by Rolling Thunder: 6

The course:

  • Floating Steps
  • Log Grip
  • Paddle Boards
  • Wall Drop
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Flying Shelf Grab
  • Stair Hopper
  • Invisible Ladder

Heartbreaker Moment:

Michelle Warnky has made it to the City Finals three times in her Ninja career. After her impressive run in the Philadelphia Qualifiers, she became one of the historic four women to move on to the Finals in that city.

The vibe was that this was her year to earn a spot in Vegas. She was strong and confident. She was experienced and ready to go.

We hated seeing her go out on Rolling Thunder, the same obstacle that had stopped her in Qualifying as well. Unfortunately, this also meant she didn’t make it far enough to push herself into the top 15.

We really wanted to see her take her place next to Jessie Graff and Meagan Martin at the National Finals, but we know she’s not done thrilling us yet!

Heart-pounding Moment:

Jesse Labreck gave us some deeply touching moments in her Qualifying run as she connected with Emeline, the young woman she cares for. Like many of the Ninjas, she was caught up on Rolling Thunder, but she still made it to the City Finals.

And she took full advantage of the opportunity. She beat Rolling Thunder, becoming the first woman to do so. Then became the 5th woman ever to conquer the Warped Wall. Not content with just that, she made it all the way to the Stair Hopper, becoming the first female rookie to ever secure a spot in the National Finals.

It was a fantastic moment that further helped to solidify the progress female Ninjas are making not just this season, but in American Ninja Warrior in general.

Lesson of the night: Rise to the Challenge

There’s been a bit of chatter this year about the courses being exponentially more difficult than in previous seasons. Whether or not that’s true or intentional would only be known by the producers.

But what we do know is that the new obstacles are creating new challenges for the Ninjas to navigate. While, yes, it can create some difficult moments, like when Geoff had to end his streak of hitting buzzers, more so it’s giving us incredible moments.

Take Jesse Labreck for starters. Without Rolling Thunder, we wouldn’t have been able to scream for her when we realized she was about to beat it. Without the Stair Hopper, we couldn’t have watched Joe Moravsky and Chris Wilczewski give it their all to best the new obstacle.

The Ninjas are good. Very good. No matter how hard the courses get, they’re going to adapt to beat them.

Here are the 15 Ninjas advancing to Las Vegas:

  • Chris Wilczewski
  • Joe Moravsky
  • Jon Alexis Jr.
  • Jamie Rahn
  • Mike Bernardo
  • Najee Richardson
  • Michael Torres
  • Geoff Britten
  • Ryan Stratis
  • Jesse Labreck
  • Anthony DeFranco
  • Nick Kostreski
  • Brandon Pannell
  • Richard Shoemaker
  • Carl Fantauzzo