Let’s sum up the American Ninja Warrior All-Stars Special in one word: WHOA. Over the course of two-hours, we witnessed impossible feats in the Skills Challenges and dramatic finishes in the Team Competition.
Since so much happened, we’re going to break this recap into two parts. This part will focus on the Skills Challenges. You can read about the Team Competition HERE.
The Skills Challenges takes obstacles the Ninjas have faced before and supersizes them. Then, the Ninjas compete to claim the title of fastest or farthest. On this All-Stars episode, we saw five challenges. Here’s what went down.
Super Salmon Ladder
The massive Super Salmon Ladder returned! This was a speed challenge that had the Ninjas racing up four stories with 40 rungs on the ladder. Mike Bernardo claimed the title two years ago. In 2017, Karsten Williams earned the medal.
Four Ninjas took part this year:
- Mike Bernardo
- Karsten Williams
- Josh Levin
- Sean Bryan
Karsten was up first. He flew up the ladder until he showed signs of slowing down at around 30 rungs. He had to make a few corrections, but still clocked in at 32.75 seconds, which was even faster than the record he set last year.
Mike Bernardo went second. His time on the Super Salmon Ladder two years ago earned him the nickname of Machine Gun Mike. Last year, he fell just one rung short of the top. After a quick start, he also slowed at around 30 rungs. He was only two rungs and five seconds from taking the lead when he fell.
Josh Levin was the youngest Ninja in this competition. He was SO smooth on the ladder ascent. He hit the top run at 27.61 seconds, which was the fastest time yet in this challenge!
Sean Bryan competed last, but he had a big surprise in store for us. He was actually SKIPPING rungs. Sean went two at a time to almost the top of the ladder! He somehow managed to finish in 19.39 seconds. Was that even real?
WINNER: SEAN BRYAN
This was another returning challenge. Ninjas had to sprint out and back across nine steps that were five feet apart and only a few inches wide. They then had to climb a rope to the buzzer. The top two fastest Ninjas would race again in a final round.
- Thomas Stillings
- Daniel Gil
- Grant McCartney
- Jake Murray
Thomas Stillings went first as the defending champion from last year. He was a little slow on transition back, but at 15.96 seconds, slow is a relative term.
Jake Murray fell last year in this competition. He had a great transition turning back for home. Bumping into the wall didn’t hold him back from the epic time of 14.43 seconds.
Daniel Gil looked a little stuck on the transition. As he ran back, you could tell he was off balance. He fell just before rope!
Grant McCartney was just flawless, turning in a time of 12.79 seconds.
Jake and Grant headed into the final round, which meant they needed to run out and back twice.
Jake was a little off balance on the second time out but still held it together for a time of 28.76. Then he jumped in the water just for fun. Grant slipped and fell on the way out, handing the win over to Jake!
WINNER: JAKE MURRAY
This challenge was abbreviated, and also debuted in last year’s competition. The Ninjas faced off on a pegboard climb to a buzzer. The last two Ninjas would enter into a final round.
- Brent Steffensen vs Jamie Rahn
Winner: Jamie Rahn
- JJ Woods vs Adam Rayl
Winner: Adam Rayl
- Adam Rayl vs Jamie Rahn
WINNER: JAMIE RAHN
One error by Adam allowed Jamie to power past him. This was the first skills medal for Jamie.
Season nine’s most dreaded obstacle returned! This time, the distance between the Wingnuts started at 13 feet, this was one foot more than the distance between them on Stage Two of the National Finals. Here are the Ninjas who took part:
- Kevin Bull
- Tyler Yamauchi
- Najee Richardson
- Drew Drechsel
- Kevin got it.
- Tyler whacks into the second Wingnut hard but hung on.
- Najee and Drew traded shirts in a show of solidarity. During last season’s Supersonic Shelf Grab, Najee fell when the distance was increased to 15 feet, while Drew landed it and claimed the title.
- Najee landed it.
- Drew only took two swings to build momentum and landed it.
Now the distance was not just nudged back, it was moved a whopping three feet.
- Kevin Bull snags it!
- Tyler had to leap a distance that was three times his height. He got it even though it spun him upside down!
- Najee didn’t have an issue.
- Neither did Drew, which wasn’t surprising.
- Kevin missed and was the first out of this challenge.
- Tyler JUST barely missed. He even touched the second Wingnut.
- Najee made it look easy.
- Drew followed suit and stayed in the game.
How far back could those Wingnuts even go? We then got to see a rematch between the Supersonic Shelf Grab finalists!
- Najee fully extended his arms in the Superman position to snag the transfer.
- Drew smiled big as he landed it.
- Najee’s hand grazed the Wingnut, but he was finally in the water.
- Drew Drechsel was once more positioned to win the challenge and he did just that!
WINNER: DREW DRECHSEL
Mega Spider Climb
This was a new challenge this season. Eight Ninjas faced off tournament style. There were four side-by-side matchups, moving into semi-finals and finals.
- Meagan Martin vs Allyssa Beird:
Meagan blasted up the climb and only took 22.93 seconds to finish.
- Jesse Labreck vs Zhanique Lovett:
These Ninjas were neck and neck until about 60 feet up. Both looked to be slowing down, but Jesse reached the buzzer first.
- Jessie Graff vs Rebekah Bonilla:
Jessie just exploded up the climb. She won her matchup in just 24.28 seconds.
- Barclay Stockett vs Kacy Catanzaro:
Barclay led at the start and built a strong distance between herself and Kacy. Kacy moved to close the gap near the top but slipped a little. Barclay reached the buzzer first.
- Meagan Martin vs Jesse Labreck
We had no guesses here. It could have been anyone’s race. However, Jesse slipped shortly after starting while Meagan took flight. She was leaping up the climb as Jesse was farther and farther behind. Meagan won in just 22.98 seconds.
- Jessie Graff vs Barclay Stockett
Both Ninjas were moving well from the start. Jessie claimed the first lead. But then Barclay pulled ahead. It was a nail-biting tie for awhile! Jessie moved slightly ahead at 70 feet. Barclay lost a bit of her steam, which allowed Jessie to win at 26.67 seconds.
- Meagan Martin vs Jessie Graff
Talk about a clash of the titans! Jessie was off to the early lead. Meagan was pushing herself up right behind her. Jessie kept her pace steady, keeping a good distance between herself and Meagan. Towards the end, Meagan started to pick up steam, but Jessie was set to take the win at just 24.03 seconds.
The race as also awarded the POM Wonderful run of the Night.
WINNER: JESSIE GRAFF
That closed out the Skills Challenges for the All-Stars special! Find out what happened during the Team Challenge here: