Let the March Madness continue! USA Network’s Ninja vs. Ninja is back again this week, with four new teams taking center stage. Before you watch Thursday’s episode, whet your appetite for the match ups with the team previews below.
Lance Pekus, Tammy McClure, Karson Voiles
As the name suggests, this squad is setting up to be a sleeper pick. Dark Horse actually combines two original team captains from the first season of Team Ninja Warrior, led by the Cowboy Ninja, Lance Pekus. Lance is fresh off an awesome season on ANW which included a run all the way to Stage Two and the fourth fastest mark of the year on Stage One.
Karson Voiles may not be a household name like Pekus, but he too has made it to Stage Two twice in three years. Last season Voiles was vanquished by ninja killer Wing Nut Alley. Although Karson wasn’t a part of Season Two on Team Ninja, he did win two out of his four matches in Season One. His only losses came at the hands of Matt Wilder and Flip Rodriguez in the second of back to back matches. On fresh legs, he was undefeated. Having Pekus on his team to help keep him refreshed should be valuable.
The team ninja newbie on Dark Horse will be Tammy McClure. In Denver last year, Tammy made the city final round after reaching the difficult Rail Runner obstacle. Her city finals run was cut short by the Bouncing Spider. She’ll have a chance to prove she belongs in the elite tier of ninjas in this competition.
Tyler Yamauchi, Kirsti Pratt, Ethan Swanson
Kirsti Pratt only had the chance to race twice in her Team Ninja debut last season, but that didn’t stop her from posting terrific results. Pratt went 2-0 as part of the Average JoJo’s, including a win over Jessie Graff in her first-ever race. Her two-match sample size is small, but so far her results suggest she’s a force in the competition. I suppose that’s not surprising considering she can do the salmon ladder in a wedding dress.
Tyler Yamauchi and Ethan Swanson will join Pratt to round out the Midwest Muscle squad. While both athletes are rookies on Team Ninja, they have amassed impressive resumes on NBC’s primetime special. Swanson was one of a small group of ninjas to reach Stage Two in ANW8. He’s a daredevil who won’t be afraid to extend himself for a fast time on the course. Yamauchi is also a Stage Two veteran who was one of the many victims of Wingnut Alley in Season Nine. Yamauchi was the second best finisher in the Kansas City regional despite being one of Ninja’s smallest competitors. Underestimate him at your own risk.
Jesse LaBreck, Jon Alexis, Chris DiGangi
First off, I think we can all agree that LaBreckfast Club is one of the best Team Ninja names of all-time. No, that does not count for anything in the actual ninja match-ups, but I felt like I had to mention it.
In two seasons on ANW, Jesse LaBreck has quickly become a top ninja. She has qualified outright for the Vegas Finals by placing top 15 in the city finals each of the past two seasons. In her first team ninja performance last year, she continued to excel with a perfect record (four for four). This year, she will be joined by her boyfriend Chris DiGangi as they attempt to become the best power couple in team ninja history. DiGangi made it to Stage One last season, falling on the same obstacle as Jesse. In fact, the pair fell on the same obstacle during every round of ANW 9. How adorable.
Jon Alexis is back alongside LaBreck as the team’s third member. Perhaps the tallest Ninja in history, Alexis won the warped wall challenge during last year’s all-star event. He also qualified for Stage Two at the Vegas Finals, falling on … you guessed it-Wing Nut Alley. Alexis and LaBreck will have vengeance on their mind this season as the team looked excellent at times last year but lost on heartbreaking tiebreaker matches in the two knockout rounds they competed in.
Ben Melick, Emmi Rose, Travis Weinand
Ben Melick and his signature Tarzan costume will lead Team Tarzan as they attempt to knock off their competition. The former Vegas Finalist is back for a third straight year of Ninja competition and hoping to pick up a signature win for his squad. He’s run into some of the titans of the game as his opponents have won nearly 75% of their matches. His teammate from a year ago, Travis Weinand, returns as well to try and help Tarzan become king of the ninja jungle. Rose Wetzel is gone this season, but that doesn’t mean this team will be without a Rose. Emmi Rose has joined Team Tarzan in her first marquee ninja appearance of any kind and will try to swing in among the elite as a part of Team Tarzan.