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Oklahoma City Qualifiers recap: A little bit of leaderboard deja vu

Some consistently quick Ninjas launched themselves to the top once again.

Brett Deering/NBC

American Ninja Warrior’s third Qualifying episode brought us back to Oklahoma City, a location last visited in season eight. The night was full of surprises and twists. The Mega Wall seemed to distract a few Ninjas that were looking for a quick time and the cash on the course. The region featured the return of some highly anticipated Ninjas like Barclay Stockett, Daniel Gil, and his protegé, Mathis “The Kid” Owhadi.

Overall, it was still a strong night for finishers and the Power Tower featured a face-off of two Ninjas who seem to be racing each other whenever they meet.

By the numbers

  • Course completions: 13
  • Mega Wall completions: 2
  • Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, Coconut Climb: 9

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Wing Swing - New
  • Fly Wheels - Now with different heights than in previous years
  • Diving Boards - New
  • Coconut Climb - New
  • Warped Wall/Mega Wall
  • Power Tower for Speed Pass

The highlights:

  • Karen Wiltin ranked number one on the women’s leaderboard in season 10’s Dallas Qualifiers. This year, she showed us the new Coconut Climb. She made it nicely to the top but then slipped off transferring to the second ring.
  • Lee Seinfeld was out on the new Wing Swing.
  • Returning competitor Artis Thompson III fell on the Fly Wheels after taking a hit to the face.
  • NASA Engineer Adam Naids splashed down on the Diving Boards.
  • Tom Mortimer supervises the bird exhibits at the Tulsa Zoo. He shared that his 10-year-old son, Landon has epilepsy and has endured terrifying seizures. His run came to an end on the Diving Boards.
  • Tim Simek was the oldest competitor of the night at 66. He was out on the Shrinking Steps.
  • Paul Adeyemo from Nigeria was out on Diving Boards.
  • Clay Raterman fell on the Wing Swing.
  • Taylor Amann’s resumé includes Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness and being an All American Pole Vaulter at the University of Wisconsin. She looked very calm on the course and even used a pole vaulting technique on the Fly Wheels. While navigating the Coconut Climb, Taylor starting sliding back to the first joint. That wore out her energy and she ended her run there.
  • Michael Snell III hit the water on the Fly Wheels.
  • Andrew Naquin ended things at the Diving Boards.
  • Mike Galeski made it to the Coconut Climb.
  • 19-year-old David Wright is known as the Cake Ninja for pretty simplistic reasons: He eats a lot of cake. But it doesn’t slow him down one bit. David tripped coming off the Diving Boards and managed to stay safe. He was the first to clear the Coconut Climb and the first buzzer of the evening.
  • The Diving Boards weren’t playing around. Matthew Tramel, Daniel Manuel, Ephraim Taylor, and Jared Greer all fell there.
  • Former Kansas State Representative Kevin Jones ended his run on the Wing Swing.
  • Jacob Bowling, AKA - DJ Tight Pants, made it to the Coconut Climb.
  • Dr. Favia Dubyk made her debut last season with her inspiring story and her distinctive yells. This year, her run ended on the Diving Boards.
  • Maggi Thorne returned for her fifth appearance on the show, sharing that her trademark pink bows symbolizes the best sense of yourself. Maggi has always been a steady competitor and this night was no different. She fell at the end of the Diving Boards but literally dug in with her fingers and hauled herself to safety while just inches from the water. She continued her run all the way to the second half of the Coconut Climb.
  • When Matthew Day made his debut as a 19-year-old rookie in season 10, he came in with the second fastest time of the night in both the Dallas Qualifiers and City Finals. A repeat of that would get him to the Power Tower this year. Matthew was quickly through the course, not stymied by the Coconut Climb. Hitting the buzzer at 1:50.12 put him at the top of the leaderboard to that point.
  • Madelynn McNeal fell on the Coconut Climb.
  • Barclay Stockett returned this year with her confidence high. She looked apprehensive, but focused, before the Diving Boards, making it it safely across. Barclay needed a huge push to get to the center of the Coconut Climb and then began the descent. This is when things got tricky. Barclay got her feet to the rope ledge, but while trying to build momentum for the spin, the ring slipped too far down. This left Barclay dangling backwards over the water. She managed to right herself once, but then slipped down again. After a valiant effort, she was out on the obstacle.
  • Chase Escue fell on the Shrinking Steps.
  • Ninja veteran Brent Steffensen made it to the City Finals for the fourth year in a row with his latest course completion.
  • Josh Salinas had a solid run to the Mega Wall. However, he wasn’t able to reach the buzzer once there.
  • Jody Avila credits his 7-year-old son Brandon as his Ninja coach, training together in their backyard. His son expected his dad to clear the Mega Wall. We weren’t sure if Jody’s 6’6” height would help or hinder him on the Coconut Climb, but the wingspan came in handy. Staying true to his promise to his son, he attempted the Mega Wall and sadly became another Ninja who’s run ended there after a managing to graze the top on his third try.
  • Eric Middleton, the Bug Ninja, was back with Hissing Cockroaches for Zuri this year. He was out on the Fly Wheels, lucky for Zuri.
  • Ben Wales, a walk-on all the way from Minnesota hit the buzzer for his first time on the course.
  • Jeff Harris followed suit and also completed the course.
  • Leigh Jahnke is a 19-year-old farm girl from Nebraska. (Keep in mind, farm training works well for Lance Pekus.) She made it through the Wing Swing but was then out on the Fly Wheels.
  • Olympic gymnast and return Ninja Jonathan Horton ended his run on the Coconut Climb.
  • Brian Burkhardt tried out the Mega Wall and found himself unable to move past it.
  • Nick Fordney went out on the very first obstacle in season 10, his rookie year. Back to right that, he opted for the Warped Wall and finished with the second fastest time to that point.
  • Of course, six-time veteran Karsten Williams had his mom, Linda, back on the sideline. Karsten ran into some bumps on his run. He kicked one of the bars on Wing Swing and smacked his head on the second Fly Wheel. However, it wasn’t slowing him down, as he was pacing for the fastest time. Karsten missed his first try at the Mega Wall, which bumped him out of competition for the Power Tower. No worries, however, as he nailed it on his second try, which earned him $5,000 and guaranteed his place in the City Finals.
  • Josh Norton hit the water on Coconut Climb.
  • 55-year-old Mike Doweidt trains with his future daughter-in-law and fellow Ninja, Brittany Hanks. He ended his run on the Diving Boards.
  • Brittany Hanks was up next. She ended up bleeding after taking a hit to face from the rope on the Shrinking Steps. She also fell on the Diving Boards.
  • Quest O’Neal was a breakout star with her stellar energy in season 10. She shared how her appearance inspired a young girl names Layla, who was on the sidelines to watch. After gritting her way through the Fly Wheels, Quest tripped at the start of the Diving Boards and ended her run there.
  • Daniel Gil, who made his Ninja Warrior debut five years ago, is usually one of the fastest competitors on the course. We just wondered if he could get the Mega Wall as well. He clearly wanted to leave himself some breathing room, as he made it to the Coconut Climb in just 33 seconds. He zipped right to the Mega Wall and dominated it on the first try. This left him with $10,000 and the fastest time by 25 seconds!
  • Last up for the night was Mathis Owhadi, season 10’s top rookie. Following in his mentor Daniel Gil’s footsteps, he blazed through the course and made a smooth exit from the Coconut Climb. He was in position to get a top time and the Mega Wall, and he did step up to the 18-foot wall. However, as his first and second attempts went by unsuccessfully, the Power Tower slipped away. His missed third attempt meant there wouldn’t be a buzzer for him that night.

Power Tower

  • Daniel Gil vs Matthew Day

It was a repeat of season 10’s Dallas Qualifying results with Daniel in first place and Matthew in second. The two were tied in the race to the top of the tower. Daniel slid down first and made a quick lunge across the bottom beam. This opened a lead ahead of Matthew that Daniel didn’t give up. He made it to buzzer well ahead of Matthew and can add his name to the list to season 11 National Finalists.

Winner: Daniel Gil

We won’t forget...

Barclay Stockett’s beyond valiant effort to save herself on the Coconut Climb. She was stuck, just feet from the landing platform for quite some time. Leaning back over the water must have been an exhausting position for her arms to hold her in. But she never gave up. While she still had any strength to hold on, she was going to try to make it out of there.

We didn’t see that coming...

Honestly, we were surprised Mathis didn’t get the Mega Wall this year. In season 10, he managed to touch the top, but not grab on. We thought for sure that a year later, the talented young competitor would have that accomplishment in the bag. There are so many factors that could have played into this; maybe he pushed just a little too hard on the course, maybe the cold weather was part of it. But we had been thinking “The Kid” would have a cool $10,000 this time around.

Shout out to...

Daniel Gil and Matthew Day for their speedy consistency! This made it the third time in a row (outside of the National Finals) that the two have placed first and second on a course together. We’ll be fascinated to see if they can do it for a fourth time in the City Finals!

Next episode

  • Seattle/Tacoma Qualifiers - Monday, June 17, at 8/7c on NBC.

You can find a full list of the competitors advancing to the Oklahoma City Finals here.

You can find a list of all the results and competitors here.