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10 American Ninja Warrior runs that defined season 9

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These runs enthralled fans and sparked some of the most heated discussions of the season.

David Becker/NBC

Picking just 10 runs that helped define the ninth season of American Ninja Warrior was a LOT harder than we expected. The season brought us so many twists and turns, and things to discuss, both good and bad.

We thought we had a handle on it and realized we still had 22 runs on our list. After some deep cuts, we managed to get down to 10. This is not a best/worst list. These are the runs that we thought helped to drive the narrative of the season. And we want to hear your thoughts on it!

Jimmy Choi’s emotional Kansas City run

Jimmy Choi personified the emotional journey of the Ninjas. He didn’t start training for American Ninja Warrior until after his Parkinson’s diagnosis. His tremors were visible on the starting line, and Michael J. Fox sent him a heartfelt video message of encouragement.

There was much debate during season nine regarding the use of “sob stories.” But love it or hate it, it allows us to get so much closer to the Ninja Warriors.

Charlie Andrews beating the Los Angeles City Finals course

Charlie Andrews represents the stellar field of rookies that stepped on the course for season nine. Ninjas like Charlie, Kevin Carbone, Tyler Gillett and Josh Salinas ushered in the new era of competitors. They’re super fans who’ve spent years training for exactly this moment. And they were ready.

Barclay Stockett during the San Antonio City Finals

Barclay Stockett rose to the top this season. While it was her second year on the show, her runs were refreshingly brand new. She helped embody the growth of the female Ninjas on the show. Barclay was one of the female competitors who advanced to the City Finals without a boost from the new rule for women, fueling the discussion on that rule’s value.

Jessie Graff dominating the Daytona City Finals

The conversation around the new rule for women continued with Jessie Graff’s City Finals run in Daytona. The show’s phenom tore down the course and created movie-worthy moments. She placed fourth overall that night, firmly advancing to the National Finals without the new rule bolstering her.

Drew Drechsel becoming the lone finisher of the Daytona City Finals

Drew Drechsel’s City Finals run is here to represent just how challenging those extended courses were. Drew was the only finisher in his city. Just as Daniel Gil was the only finisher in San Antonio. Only Jamie Rahn and Joe Moravsky survived Cleveland. Los Angeles faired a little better with Charlie Andrews, Josh Levin, Sean Bryan and Adam Rayl completing the course. But Denver only had one finish with Ian Dory and the Kansas City course was left undefeated.

Allyssa Beird defeating Stage One

Allyssa Beird had an incredible season on the show. She snagged the first buzzer of the season for the women in the Cleveland Qualifiers. In the National Finals, she joined Jessie Graff as the only other woman to complete Stage One.

She also represents the flip side of the argument around the new women’s rule. While she did place in the top 30 during Qualifiers, she JUST missed placing in the top 15 of the City Finals. Without including the top two women from each City Finals in the National Finals, her jaw-dropping Stage One run might have never happened.

Jessie Graff’s shocking season ender

We all know why this run is here. After Jessie’s performances in season eight, fans expected to see her back on Stage Two. A brutal tiny mistake at almost the very last moment crushed that idea, shaking up what everyone had in mind for the close of the season.

Kacy Catanzaro’s retirement

Another big plot point of season nine was Kacy Catanzaro’s retirement. After one season of incredible highs, climbing the Warped Wall and completing a City Finals course, Kacy experienced several lows. In season nine, she announced she was moving on to the WWE and the show bid farewell to a pioneer.

Drew Drechsel’s battle with Wingnut Alley

Drew Drechsel’s Stage Two run was a shock, but it also represents the severe difficultly of Wingnut Alley. After a Stage One with a record high number of finishers, this one obstacle on Stage Two managed to cut down about half the field of competitors. Wingnut Alley was based on the Wingnuts from the Daytona course, which were designed by super-fan and competitor, Kevin Carbone.

Joe Moravsky fighting his way through Stage Three

Finally, we have to close out with the last Ninja standing. For the second time in his career on the show, Joe Moravsky went farther than anyone else. Stage Three was so tough it was hard to even look at. But Joe gave it his all. He finally peeled off on the Time Bomb, meaning fans would have to wait another year to see if anyone could make it to Stage Four.

Do you think these 10 runs helped define season nine of American Ninja Warrior? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below!