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American Ninja Warrior Denver City Finals recap: These Ninjas refused to give up the fight against the course

Against almost impossible obstacles, the Ninjas battled back with everything they had.

Dustin Bradford/NBC

The Denver City Finals was American Ninja Warrior’s last stop before the National Finals. It’s been a grueling season of hard fought struggles on the City Finals courses.

Denver was no different. Only one Ninja would complete the course and he had to fight tooth and nail to get there. The Wedge returned and re-claimed its title as a Ninja Killer. But this was a strong field of competitors. Meagan Martin continued to wow the audience. Lorin Ball would once again speed through obstacles.

All told, the Denver Ninjas moving on to the National Finals will absolutely have the mental grit to contend with the stages that await them next.

Here’s what you missed:

Course completions: 1

Ninjas taken out by the Wedge: 13

Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, Ninjago Roll: 2

The Course:

  • Floating Steps
  • Ring Swing
  • Bouncing Spider
  • Paddle Boards
  • Rail Runner
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • The Wedge
  • Ninjago Roll
  • Elevator Climb

Quick Highlights:

  • Larissa Cottle hung on with all her might, defeating the Ring Swing. She went out on the Rail Runner, but not before impressing everyone with her grip strength.
  • Tammy McClure, who made the top 30 in Qualifying, went out early on the Bouncing Spider.
  • Bart Copeland was the first make it to the Wedge, and the first of many to fall there.
  • Brandon Todacheenie did an incredible job representing the Navajo nation but missed his three attempts on the Warped Wall.
  • Jeri D’Aurelio made it all the way to the Rail Runner in Qualifying. Unfortunately, she had a repeat performance on the tricky obstacle. However, she is through to the National Finals.
  • Brian Arnold had a rough go of it in Qualifying. He smashed his face on the Rail Runner and fell there. He beat that obstacle in the City Finals, but then had to take on his long-time nemesis the Wedge. Once more, the Wedge would end his night.
  • Lorin Ball’s speed makes him known for two things: Impressive finishes or shocking falls. In the Qualifiers, Lorin earned the fastest time. In the City Finals he was on a tear again. He was the first to beat the Wedge and introduced us to the heavy Ninjago Roll. After he fell there, he referred to it as one of the hardest obstacles he’s faced.
  • Dalton Knapp watched American Ninja Warrior from his hospital bed during his cancer treatment. Now, he’s competing alongside his brother Drew. The inspiring rookie made it all the way to the Salmon Ladder.
  • Sam Sann was disqualified on the Paddleboards when he accidentally broke the rules and stepped on the center beam.
  • Jesse Lucero might have been a walk on this season, but he’s certainly earned his place. He was one of the rare Ninjas able to beat the Wedge, going out on the Ninjago Roll.
  • Ian Dory is one of the most consistent competitors in the City Finals. In all of his competition seasons, he’s finished the course. But these City Finals have been on a whole other level. Ian Dory had to fight until he literally had nothing left, but he made it to the buzzer one more time!
  • Last run of the night was Meagan Martin and she did not disappoint! She made it up the Warped Wall for her sixth time in competition and made it to the back half of a City Finals course for the second year in a row. She fell on the Wedge but is still on her way to Las Vegas.

Heart-Pounding Moment:

Ian Dory’s near miss on the Elevator Climb was terrifying. Just as he reached the top of the exhausting obstacle, his strength seemed to be fading fast. He flipped his feet over the ledge, but his torso was still dangling over the climb. As he slid backwards we were almost sure we were watching one of the most painful obstacle fails of the season.

But somehow, Ian defied what you would think were human limitations and found just enough strength to leverage himself back on to the platform. He had to drag himself to the buzzer and collapsed immediately after hitting it, demonstrating just close we came to having zero finishers on this course.

Heart-Breaking Moment:

It was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but we really felt for Sam Sann after watching his disqualification. He’s an important member of the Ninja community, having given us many thrilling runs and now trains a new generation of competitors. A recent back surgery kept him from competing in his local area of San Antonio and everyone was nervous for him in the Denver Qualifiers.

But Sam pulled through and cleared his path to the City Finals. His determination is the stuff of legends. Which is why it was so hard to see him go out not because his strength was tapped, or while fighting a hard obstacle, but simply because he made a mistake.

Stepping on the center beam of the Paddleboards is against the rules. Sam accidentally took about two or three steps on the beam. The course turned red. He was disqualified and his disappointment was palpable.

Lesson of the Night:

This is more of a lesson from all the City Finals, not just Denver, but these Ninjas are heading to the National Finals with fire in their bellies. The Finals have been heartless and vicious. Only nine Ninjas were able to complete the six courses.

This means the Ninjas are moving on to Las Vegas with a chip on their collective shoulders. They’re mad. They’re frustrated and they are coming for those final four stages.

Remember, it’s Ninjas versus the course, not Ninja versus Ninja. They’ll be working together to outsmart and outplay the National Finals courses. While it’s been a long six weeks of City Finals, we’re going into Las Vegas poised for some explosive runs. Get ready.

Up Next:

The National Finals kick off on September 4 with night one of Stage One. Season nine of American Ninja Warrior is racing to its conclusion. Who will be the last Ninja standing?