For the first time ever, American Ninja Warrior will record a Qualifying and City Finals course in Cleveland, OH for season nine. The Ninjas and crew will be in town around May 8-9, which means there might still by some chilly breezes off Lake Erie during the nights of taping.
The positioning of this city is interesting, as it is relatively in the middle of two cities from season eight; Indianapolis and Philadelphia. Generally, you can determine which veterans will appear in a city based on the proximity to their home, and where they competed in the season prior. This location, combined with the other season nine cities, leaves the door open to shake things up.
For example, in season eight, the Wolfpack members Meagan Martin, Ian Dory and Brian Arnold ran in Indianapolis. However, they will most likely return to their home of Colorado and compete in Denver for season nine.
But the Towers of Power, Dan Polizzi and Brandon Mears, also ran in Indianapolis. They’re from the Chicago area, leading us to believe we’ll see them in Cleveland, which is closer for them than the Denver or Kansas City locations.
Cleveland will most likely draw the Wilczewski brothers, as well as Michelle Warnky, who together own the Movement Lab, a Ninja training gym in Columbus, OH.
This new location might pick up the Philadelphia crowd, leaving it with the potential to be a strong city for female Ninjas. In season eight, a historic four women qualified for the Philadelphia City Finals, including Jesse “Flex” Labreck, the first woman to qualify for the National Finals in her rookie season.
We know for sure that Geoff Britten won’t be back on the course as a competitor for season nine, but that still leaves quite a few big names that could take on Cleveland.
Ryan Stratis ran in Philadelphia for season eight, but that was because he needed additional time for his shoulder to heal from surgery, and couldn’t make the Atlanta taping. Our bet is he heads back south for his season nine performance and gets on the Daytona Beach course.
Cleveland has some great potential to be an exciting city for American Ninja Warrior. It’s well positioned to attract some big names but has the door open for some new rookies to rise in the ranks.
Who do you think we’ll see in Ohio this season?