The long awaited National Finals kicked off with an incredible night one. The Ninjas faced new obstacles like the Flying Squirrel, but also had to deal with kicked up classic obstacles. For example, the Warped Wall has a much shorter run up space in National Finals than it did in the city courses.
There’s also the added pressure that there’s no saves once you make it to Las Vegas. No more Wild Cards. No more top field that automatically moves on. You hit the buzzer and you do it in under 2 minutes and 20 seconds, or you go home.
But the Ninjas rose to the challenge. One night one alone, 8 Ninjas were able to complete the course, including Jessie Graff. She made history by becoming the first woman ever to complete stage one of American Ninja Warrior.
However, there were some shocking exits as well.
Ryan Stratis couldn’t complete the Flying Squirrel.
Grant McCartney must have been working on his dance moves in anticipation of his success.
James McGrath fell at the Jumping Spider.
Travis Rosen surprised us all by tripping on the first obstacle, Snake Run.
Michael Torres scared the crap out of us with his last moment buzzer strike.
Jamie Rahn mis-timed his drop from the Giant Log Grip.
Michelle Warnky fell from the Propeller Bar.
Jesse Labreck made it all the way to the Jumping Spider.
Kevin Bull also fell victim to the Giant Log Grip.
Dan Polizzi was on his way, but timed out on the Flying Squirrel.
Flip Rodriguez showed us why he’s a legend as he went on to Stage Two.
And of course, Jessie Graff made the world stand still with her run to history.
Here’s What You Missed:
Stage One Completions: 8
Ninjas taken out by new obstacle the Flying Squirrel: 3
Ninjas taken out by the Giant Log Grip: 7
- Snake Run
- Propeller Bar
- Giant Log Grip
- Jumping Spider
- Sonic Curve
- Warped Wall
- Broken Bridge
- Flying Squirrel
Tonight we’ve got to give it to Travis Rosen. He’s a well known Ninja veteran who is no stranger to the National Finals. He’s always a strong contender and inspiration to many aspiring Ninjas.
While we all know the National Finals course is supposed to be hard, we never expect early falls. Travis made one mis-step on the first obstacle, Snake Run. As his ankle slipped off to once side, we could only watch in silent shock as he fell in the water.
You could tell even Travis was shocked by the turn of events. But he was cool and collected, and hopefully already planning his come-back.
Jessie Graff. Jessie Graff. And one more time, JESSIE GRAFF. This woman is unstoppable.
After her Los Angeles City Qualifying and Finals runs, we knew she had the ability to pull this off, but you just never know with American Ninja Warrior. So many tiny, small things can go wrong and end a run.
We were waiting all night to see her take the course and it was worth every second. She put up a flawless run. It couldn’t have been better. As she reached for the buzzer, we all shared in the excitement of that moment.
Jessie Graff is now the first and only female to complete Stage One of American Ninja Warrior. And we have a feeling she’s opening a floodgate of powerful female Ninjas to come behind her.
Lesson of the night: Timing is everything
American Ninja Warrior loves to show us over and over again that nothing is certain. It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how much you’ve trained, there’s always a chance it just won’t be your night.
No obstacle exemplified this more than the Giant Log Grip. The Ninjas have seen this before. They’ve done it before. But add in the element of a very small landing pad, and you have the perfect recipe for sending Ninjas home.
Seven well-known names went out on this obstacle, including Kevin Bull, Jamie Rahn, and Erica Cook. The Giant Log Grip is the perfect obstacle to teach humility, reminding us all that we’re sometimes just not in complete control.
Here are the Ninjas advancing to stage two:
- Grant McCartney
- Michael Torres
- Brian Arnold
- Chris Wilczewski
- Daniel Gil
- Thomas Stillings
- Flip Rodriguez
- Jessie Graff
What are your thoughts on the night? Any surprises we didn’t mention? Tell us in the comments!
Night two of the National Finals will feature runs from Geoff Britten, Joe Moravsky, Meagan Martin and Drew Drechsel. So the excitement isn’t over yet!