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Los Angeles Qualifiers recap: The dinos roared but the Ninjas delivered

The Mega Wall faced TWO defeats in this episode.

Tyler Golden/NBC

The American Ninja Warrior Los Angeles Qualifiers had a grand introduction from Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt. The actors were on hand to open up Jurassic World night. A 36-foot tall t-rex loomed over the starting line and a snappy velociraptor stalked along the edge of the course.

No, Chris Pratt wasn’t taking on the course himself, but we had PLENTY of Ninja action. The night brought some shocking falls from the new obstacle, the Doorknob Drop. But two Ninjas would triumph over the Mega Wall and join Daniel Gil in the elite club of athletes who’ve snagged that $10,000.

Tyler Golden/NBC

By the numbers

  • Course completions: 10
  • Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, the Doorknob Drop: 15
  • Ninjas taken out by the returning obstacle, Sky Hooks: 4
  • Ninjas who completed the Mega Wall: 2

The course:

  • Floating Steps
  • Jumper Cables
  • Spinning Bridge
  • Sky Hooks
  • Doorknob Drop
  • Warped Wall

Quick Highlights:

  • We started things off with the return of Zhanique Lovett. Back for her sophomore season, she was ready to continue her season nine success. After slight stumbles on the Floating Steps and the Spinning Bridge, she found herself already at obstacle five. Her run showed us that some of the knobs on the Doorknob Drop actually spin. Zhanique looked a bit stuck trying to reach the top of the first panel. She reached it but the jolt of the drop sent her into the water. The first of MANY that night.
  • Austin Seibert was able to compete this season thanks to the new, lower age limit. He also reached the Doorknob Drop as the night’s youngest competitor.
  • Ruben Arellano is from the small border town of Calexico, CA. All his life, he’s been very close with his grandmother, who calls him goat because of the way he jumps around. Although she’s now 89, there was no way she wouldn’t be on the sidelines to support his run. Ruben started to struggle on the Sky Hooks but made it through. His run ended at the Doorknob Drop.
  • Thomas Kofron had an incredible story to share. He’s a firefighter in San Luis Obispo. During last year’s record-breaking California fires, Thomas went to his parent’s home after they were evacuated. He stayed all night and fought back the flames with everything he could find, all the way down to a bottle of orange juice. In the end, he saved his family’s home.

With his parents watching on, he took to the course. He looked relaxed and happy on obstacle after obstacle. On the Doorknob Drop, he was the first to move to the second panel. He carefully rode the second drop down and moved the to Warped Wall. He opted to leave the Mega Wall alone and zipped up the Warped Wall for the first completion of the night.

Tyler Golden/NBC
  • Bijan Nowroozian and Nicole Hatcher both ended their runs on the Jumper Cable.
  • Derek Miyamoto made it to the Doorknob Drop.
  • Next up was Ninja Warrior fan-favorite Kevin Bull. He exploded through the Floating Steps in just three seconds. He was at the Sky Hooks in barely 20 seconds. On the Doorknob Drop, he survived the first drop and was still moving fast. In order to trigger the second drop, he needed to reach the very last handle. While he was trying for this, one of the rotating handles sent him into the water. The crowd was shocked. This was the first time in all of Kevin Bull’s career that he did not finish the Qualifying course.
  • Returning competitors Gabe Hurtado and Anthony Trucks both also fell victim to the Doorknob Drop.
  • Westley Silvestri had to fight off a rogue raptor before his fall on the Doorknob Drop.
  • The Papal Ninja Sean Bryan had another of his heavenly runs. He reached the Doorknob Drop with no trouble and calmly rode both drops. He did attempt the Mega Wall but came up short. The buzzer at the top of the 14’6” Warped Wall gave him his third Qualifying course completion in a row.
  • Tiana Webberley returned for her fourth time on American Ninja Warrior. This past year, she’s been training with her mom. Together, they related how her mother has diabetes, something that has caused many scary moments for the family. Things have gotten worse in the last year and training together has helped them focus on mom’s health.

Tiana looked strong on the course, moving steadily to the Sky Hooks. Once through it, she faced the fifth obstacle. Tiana has fallen on the fifth Qualifying obstacle for the past two seasons. She wanted to pass this thing. She scaled the first panel and triggered the first drop. On the second panel, she was digging deep. She advanced towards the top, shaking out her hands as she went. Once she grabbed the top hold, the panel crashed down and the jolt ended her run.

  • The normally-jovial Grant McCartney reminded us that he’s been through a lot in the past four years. In that time, he’s lost his mother, grandmother, and in the last year, his step-father passed away. This has made Grant especially close with his younger brother, Colton. This year’s run was dedicated to him.

Grant had a huge crowd of supporters on the sidelines and the course was giving him no issues. He was taking his time and enjoying the spotlight. He looked a little awkward climbing on to the Doorknob Drop but was confident he could carry it through. All of a sudden, the course was red. As Grant had dismounted, his foot had tagged the water, disqualifying him from trying the Mega Wall.

  • Veteran Nicholas Coolridge might have missed the Mega Wall, but he still completed the course.
Tyler Golden/NBC
  • Cody Johnston came all the way from Sitka, Alaska. In the past year, within in months, his mom and grandmother both passed away with cigarettes as the cause. Cody hoped that just one person would be moved to quit smoking after seeing his story. He stumbled a bit across the Spinning Bridge but moved on. He was stumped by trying to reach the last handle on the first part of the Doorknob Drop. After a few attempts, he was out.
  • Selena Laniel is one of the unsung American Ninja Warrior heroes. She’s been on the show since season four, she’s a San Diego Firefighter, and a single mom to two teenage daughters. This woman is tough. There was a little stumble on the Floating Steps, but she was fine. Selena took a second to collect herself before the Spinning Bridge and made it across. She was steady and thoughtful on the Sky Hooks. Even when she BARELY made the final jump. She was reaching for the last handle on the first part of the Doorknob Drop when she fell.
  • Brock Taylor was another victim of the Doorknob Drop.
  • Josh Levin started his season off strong with a full course completion.
  • Anna Shumaker made it almost to the very end of the Doorknob drop. Her speed to the obstacle moved her into the City Finals.
  • The lively Natalie Duran ended her season early on the Jumper Cables.
  • Nick Hanson is from Unakaleet, Alaska. He’s used to training outdoors on obstacles he builds from driftwood, including a 16-foot Warped Wall. Which makes this LA course pretty luxurious. Nick looked confident on every obstacle. On the Doorknob Drop, he was unfazed by either drop. Then, he gave the Mega Wall a good long look. He shot for it before even we thought he was ready. Nick pushed off with so much power that both hands were over the ledge with inches to spare, earning him the $10,000.
  • The crowd chanted “Flippy” to celebrate the return of Flip Rodriguez. He was a lightning bolt across the Spinning Bridge. Using Akbar’s term, Flip had a little “snatch back” on one of the Sky Hooks, not that it was much of a setback for him. He was moving so fast we barely had time to process when he fell on the next obstacle, Doorknob Drop.
  • Rookie Brian Rambo is an urban farmer in Arizona. He even raises his own tilapia for his family. He also has a Ninja Warrior course at home, and he’s just as serious about that. He tore through the course and wasn’t bothered by the Doorknob Drop. When he hit the Warped Wall buzzer at 2.26.54, it was the fastest time of the night.
  • Jake Dalton, the Olympic gymnast, fell at the Sky Hooks.
  • Verdale Benson added his name to the list of Doorknob Drop tumbles.
  • Spencer Clapp completed the course and gave the buzzer a little kick for good measure.
  • Riles Nganga fought hard on the Sky Hooks. He was on the obstacle for around two minutes before his grip gave out.
  • Brian Kretsch, who’s competed on every season of the show, completed the course on his third attempt on the Warped Wall.
  • The Ninja Godfather, David Campbell also completed the course. He tried for the Mega Wall but still celebrated his tenth season on the show with a buzzer.
  • Adam Rayl was back for the third season of his skyrocketing Ninja career. He approached this course with his usual aggression. He had to get his face out of the way on the Sky Hooks. His mom, Vicki, was nervously watched from the side. But Adam was 100% confidence. After breezing through all the obstacles, he took a deep breath at the base of the Mega Wall. And he nailed it! He even managed to somersault over the edge. That was the second $10,000 prize of the night!
  • All told there were ten finishers and two Mega Wall completions.

Find a full list of who moved on to the City Finals here.

Heart-pounding moment:

We were really pulling for Tiana Webberley to best the fifth obstacle. She’s so dedicated to her training and she’s such a strong competitor. She’s fallen one obstacle short of the Warped Wall for the past two (now three) seasons. As she was reaching the end of the obstacle, we were sure this was going to happen for her. But no matter, the defeat was short lived. Tiana’s awesome run put her in the top 30 and through to the City Finals were she can try again!

Tyler Golden/NBC

Heart-breaking moment:

This one goes out to the heart-breaker obstacle, the Doorknob Drop, and its MANY shocking falls. Even watching the taping in person, we had no idea that veterans like Kevin Bull, Flip Rodriguez, and Grant McCartney would fall there. Grant was especially shocking since it looked like he was home free until we processed that we’d just seen a small splash of water.

While it didn’t show up clearly on TV, we really think those twisting handles played a big part. The drops were jarring, but those few handles that turned exhausted their grip strength.

Shout out of the night:

We want to give special props to Brian Kretsch and David Campbell. They have shaped their lives around taking part in American Ninja Warrior for the past decade. And the process to be on the show isn’t a simple one. They’ve made 10 submission videos, waited on 10 calls. Competed through long-overnight shoots. We were so happy that both could kick of this pretty momentous season with double course completions!

Tyler Golden/NBC

Next week:

On Wednesday, July 13, Ninja Warrior heads down to Miami for some fun, sun and more Ninjas! Drew Drechsel and Jessie Graff will be stepping on the course, with all eyes on the Mega Wall.