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Ninja vs Ninja recap: Youth takes on experience

It was a night full of favored veterans, but some young Ninjas planned to make a name for themselves.

Eddy Chen/USA Network

This week’s episode of American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs Ninja was a game changer. In a sport that feels both new and yet with a rich history, we witnessed a changing of the guard in a very real way. Let’s break down what happened.

TL:DR: The Young Bloods made a stunning debut by taking down the NorCal Ninjas in some heated battles. Team Wolfpack came out strong with a group of experienced veterans, sending Tré Amigoz home. Going into the finals, it was the Wolfpack’s wisdom against the Young Bloods’ ambition. In a surprising turn of events, the Young Bloods swept all the heats, sending the Wolfpack back to the den.

The match-ups:

  • Young Bloods vs NorCal Ninjas
  • Team Wolfpack vs Tré Amigoz

The obstacles:

  • Sonic Swing
  • Tick Tock
  • Criss Cross Ring Toss
  • Floating Tiles
  • Flying Shelf Grab
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Rumbling Dice
  • Zigzag Climb

You can find more information on the rules of Ninja vs Ninja here. It follows a best-of-five, single elimination format. The last team standing moves on to the playoffs.


NorCal Ninjas

  • David Campbell
  • Anna Shumaker
  • Brian Kretsch

Young Bloods

  • Tyler Gillett
  • Bree Widener
  • Kevin Carbone

Heat one:

  • Brian Kretsch vs Kevin Carbone

This race put the challenge of the Criss Cross Ring Toss on full display. The obstacle encourages the Ninjas to cross paths, leading to physical contact we generally don’t see. In this case, Brian was in front and needed a good backswing to gain the momentum that would get him to the landing pad. So Kevin parked himself right behind Brian, leading to a long moment of clashing bodies and a stare down. Brian did end up shifting enough to get off the obstacle first, but it may have tired him out as he then fell on the Shelf Grab. Kevin completed all the obstacles.

Point = Young Bloods

Heat two:

  • Anna Shumaker vs Bree Widener

Anna took a bold approach on the Rings, using both sides once she reached the middle and giving herself a lead. She did fall on the Floating Titles and was able to continue with very wet feet. Bree was doggedly working down the course behind her. It looked like Anna had a strong lead as she went for the Warped Wall. Anna ripped off her wet shoes and socks but still failed her first attempt. Suddenly, Bree appeared from behind her and burst up the Wall in one go.

Point = Young Bloods

Heat three:

  • David Campbell vs Tyler Gillett

The pressure was on the Godfather Ninja to prevent a sweep. But with nine seasons of Ninja Warrior experience under his belt, he knew what to do. David’s run was fast, strong and unrelenting. Tyler gave him a good chase, never falling too far behind. David came out as the clear winner, saving the team.

Point = NorCal Ninjas

Heat four - RELAY:

Anna and Bree handled the first two obstacles. David and Kevin were in the middle. Brian and Tyler prepared for the final leg.

Anna and Bree were dead even. It looked like they tagged their teammates at basically the same time. David deftly handled his obstacles, tagging in Brian first. Kevin brought Tyler just a blink of an eye later. Both Brian and Tyler surged through their obstacles and up the Wall, reaching for the buzzer at the same time. In a nail-biting moment, we had to wait to find out the winner. With a two-hundredths of a second lead, the win went to the Young Bloods.

Point = Young Bloods

  • Young Bloods WIN.
  • NorCal Ninjas are OUT.


Team Wolfpack

  • Ian Dory
  • Jeri D’Aurelio
  • Dan Yager

Tré Amigoz

  • Tremayne Dortch
  • Meghan Beatty
  • Andrew Lowes

Heat one:

  • Ian Dory vs Andrew Lowes

Ian and Andrew were tied up to the crucial Rings obstacle. Andrew dismounted first, gaining the lead. He knew better than to give Ian a chance to catch him and tore through the Shelf Grab and up the Warped Wall for the win.

Point = Tré Amigoz

Heat two:

  • Jeri D’Aurelio vs Meghan Beatty

Jeri was ahead from the jump. Meghan took an extra swing on Tick Tock but was able to catch up to Jeri on the Rings. Once more, we saw a bit of a battle for space. Jeri was able to free herself first, then took a thoughtful approach on the Tiles. Meghan still had a shot in this race, but it didn’t last long. Jeri completed the Shelf Grab and moved on to the Warped Wall. Meghan was unable to hang on and fell from the Shelves. Jeri finished by hitting the buzzer.

Point = Team Wolfpack

Heat three:

  • Dan Yager vs Tremayne Dortch

These Ninjas were evenly matched at the start. Once Dan got a lead off the Ring Toss, he was gone. Tremayne tried for a comeback on the Shelf Grab but ended up falling there. Dan completed the course.

Point = Team Wolfpack

Heat four - RELAY:

Jeri and Meghan took the first positions. Dan and Andrew posted up after Tick Tock. Ian and Tremayne waited after the Floating Tiles.

Jeri had a lead on Meghan and brought in Dan first. Andrew was not too far behind. Dan took a big fall on the Floating Tiles but was still in the game. This did give Tremayne a slight lead on Ian, although. BOTH Ninjas missed their first grabs at the Warped Wall. Both went again, with Tremayne leading. At the top of the Wall, Tremayne took one extra moment to find the buzzer, allowing Ian to barely squeak out the win.

Point = Team Wolfpack

  • Team Wolfpack WINS.
  • Tré Amigoz is OUT.


  • Young Bloods vs Team Wolfpack

Round three takes place on the extended course of nine obstacles, adding in the Salmon Ladder, Rumbling Dice, and the Zig Zag Climb.

Heat one:

  • Dan Yager vs Kevin Carbone

Both Ninjas sped to the Criss Cross Ring Toss. Dan dismounted first, with Kevin right behind him. Dan completed the Warped Wall first, but it’s all about endurance on the extended course. Dan began the Salmon Ladder just before Kevin. As Dan transitioned to the Rumbling Dice, Kevin did the same. Dan began to get tired, allowing Kevin to pass him on the Dice and begin the final climb. In a reversal, Kevin now had the lead and held it all the way to the buzzer.

Point = Young Bloods

Heat two:

  • Jeri D’Aurelio vs Bree Widener

Jeri slightly ahead at the start of this race, but got her feet wet on the Sonic Swing. Both worked hard on the Rings, bumping a bit in the middle. Jeri executed a less than graceful dismount but was still in the lead. Bree was a full obstacle behind when Jeri went for the Shelf Grab. But in a twist, Jeri slipped on the trampoline and crashed into the pool. When Bree finished the obstacle, she claimed the win.

Point = Young Bloods

Heat three:

  • Ian Dory vs Tyler Gillett

Suddenly, the experienced Team Wolfpack might be facing a defeat by the Young Bloods. It came down to Ian to pump life back into the competition. Tyler had a slight lead but both Ninjas left the Rings at around the same time. Tyler was ahead leading through the Warped Wall with Ian hot on his heels. After the Salmon Ladder, Tyler moved to the Rumbling Dice first, opening a lead. From there on, Tyler honed in and never looked back. Ian slipped farther and farther behind as Tyler finished the final climb.

Point = Young Bloods

  • Young Bloods move on to the playoffs!
  • Team Wolfpack is OUT!

Mitsubishi Drive of the Night went to Tyler’s superb last race. As a rookie to this format and someone relatively new to the Ninja Warrior world, Tyler led his team with dedication and grit. Young Bloods joined the Sweet 16 who’ll return for the playoffs!

Next week:

On March 29, we’ll see the fifth round of qualifying match-ups!

  • Golden Hearts: Neil Craver, Natalie Duran, and Grant McCartney
  • Average JoJo’s: JoJo Bynum, Jessica Clayton, and Jimmy Bogle Jr.
  • Towers of Power: Nate Burkhalter, Selena Laniel, and Dan Polizzi
  • Three Wishes: Thomas Stillings, Brittany Hanks, and Brian Burkhardt