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American Ninja Warrior San Antonio Qualifier recap: The Lone Star State showed off the strength of its Ninjas

Legends like Kacy Catanzaro and Brent Steffensen worked for their comebacks. While new Ninjas emerged from the pack with amazing feats of endurance.

Felicia Graham/NBC

San Antonio promised to be a fascinating city for American Ninja Warrior. After all, it’s home to Kacy Catanzaro, Brent Steffensen and Thomas Stillings. But we got so much more than we even imagined possible.

The new obstacle of the night, the Sky Hooks, was designed by a SEVEN year old fan! Tick Tock returned as well, and the obstacle that was devastating on the LA course in season eight proved to still be an enemy of the Ninja Warriors.

Let’s get into the action!

Here’s what you missed:

Course completions: 16

Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, the Sky Hooks: 11

Ninjas taken out by returning obstacle, Tick Tock: 7

The Course:

  • Floating Steps
  • Tick Tock
  • Spinning Bridge
  • Sky Hooks
  • Pipe Fitter
  • Warped Wall

Quick Highlights:

  • Kaiti Haymaker competed on Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness for Texas A&M’s team. After a quick thinking save on Tick Tock, her run ended at the Spinning Bridge.
  • Conor Daly wanted to be the star Indy Car driver this season, but he didn’t make it past the Floating Steps.
  • Nico Gentry is legally blind, but why the heck would that slow him down? He put on an awe-inspiring run, making it all the way to the Sky Hooks.
  • Jody Avila is a massive Ninja at 6’6”. He wanted Akbar to bestow an official Ninja Warrior nickname on him if he completed the course. His wish came true, giving us #BigDawgNinja.
  • Brent Steffensen hadn’t hit a buzzer in over 700 days. He put an end to that with this course.
  • Barclay Stockett burst on to the scene by becoming the first woman to beat the Sky Hooks.
  • Thomas Stillings stopped to say hi to his friends and family and still put up the fastest time to that point of the night.
  • But then Daniel Gil hit the course and claimed the new top speed and the POM Run of the Night.
  • Kacy Catanzaro was ALMOST through the Sky Hooks when the ring caught on the very edge of the cradle and ended her run. But she still made the top five women and was through to the City Finals.
  • Jonathan Horton suffered an injury that ended his bid for the 2016 Olympics. So he set his sights on Ninja Warrior. His determination carried him all the way to the top of the Warped Wall.

Heart-Pounding Moment:

We can’t decide this week, so we’re going with two moments.

Watching Nico Gentry get all the way to the Sky Hooks was such a moment of pure victory. Nico is legally blind and can’t see objects in motion. When you first hear that you have to think, “Well, then the course will be impossible for him.”

But the confidence, determination and joy with which he beats the first three obstacles will quickly change your mind. Buzzer or no buzzer, watching what Nico was able to accomplish will widen your perspective on what’s possible in this world.

We’ve also got to give it up to Jonathan Horton. When a career athlete feels like their future goals have been lost, we imagine it must be a moment that can crush them. Jonathan went through a difficult time after a shoulder injury as he navigated a new reality that wouldn’t let him compete in gymnastics for the 2016 Olympics. But another season on American Ninja Warrior gave him a new way to claim the glory he craved.

Jonathan picked himself up, re-dedicated himself and began a new training regime. With his family supporting him every step of the way, Jonathan worked his way to the buzzer and earned a place in the City Finals.

Heart-Breaking Moment:

Kacy Catanzaro is an American Ninja Warrior legend. She’s still the only woman to complete a City Finals course. But the last two seasons haven’t been easy for her.

This season, Kacy revealed that her mom had a heart attack in the past year. Between that terrifying experience and San Antonio being her hometown, we so wanted to see her back on the Warped Wall and reveling in the moment.

The audience was on its feet as Kacy was on the last lache of the Sky Hooks. She’d re-stabilized herself after swaying for a long moment on the second transfer. But this could be it. She could complete this obstacle.

When she went for the transfer, the ring caught on the VERY edge of the cradle, bringing her momentum to a full stop and plunging her into the pool.

While it was hard to watch her go down, there was still triumph in this run. Kacy had placed in the top five women competitors, meaning she’ll be back for the City Finals.

Lesson of the night:

A set back does not mean you’re out of the game.

This is true on so many levels on American Ninja Warrior. In just this episode alone, we saw Jonathan Horton come back from a shoulder injury. Charlotte Eccles came back from a brain surgery that required her to learn how to walk again. Kacy needed to over come the pressure of having two down seasons to earn her spot in the City Finals again.

There was also Barclay Stockett. While she’s a big part of the Ninja Warrior community, participating in many local events and Team Ninja Warrior, fans of American Ninja Warrior may not know her name... yet.

The gymnastics coach was having a great run until she faced the Sky Hooks, an obstacle that had been taking out Ninjas all night. As her body’s momentum got out of control, it looked like she’d suffer the same fate as so many others. We’d seen this play out. She’d exhaust her grip strength and the jolt of the transfer, if she made it, would rip the ring out of her hands.

But remember, a set back doesn’t mean it’s over. Barclay pulled herself together in a great show of strength and landed the transfer. Then she landed the next one. And then she landed the dismount, becoming the first woman to defeat the obstacle.

Her run was so good she was the top woman of the night and the 30th competitor overall. We can’t wait to see what she brings to the City Finals!

Next up:

On June 26, American Ninja Warrior will be in Daytona, Florida. Two star National Finalists will be trying to punch their tickets back to Las Vegas. Can Jessie Graff and Drew Drechsel repeat the magic of season eight?