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Baltimore Qualifiers recap: No mercy from the Mega Wall

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Decisions around whether or not to try for the Mega Wall potentially reshaped the leaderboard.

William Gray/NBC

Welcome back to Baltimore! American Ninja Warrior last visited the city six years prior and the familiar location turned up some familiar faces, like Allyssa Beird, Joe Moravsky, Jamie Rahn, and Najee Richardson. The course was perched right on the Inner Harbor and the air wafted with the distinct scent of a Baltimore crab boil.

But it wasn’t always the sweetest of homecomings. The Mega Wall saw zero finishers, although a few of the big name Ninjas tried, which snapped their streak of Qualifying buzzers. This left the door open for some newer names to take hold of the leaderboard and the Power Tower.

By the numbers:

  • Course completions: 9
  • Mega Wall completions: 0
  • Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, Dangerous Curves: 9
  • Ninjas taken out by the returning obstacle, Crank It Up: 7

The course:

The highlights:

  • Daniel Eiskant started the night with a special send off from his acappella group. Daniel made it through the Double Twister and looked a little pained on the Dangerous Curves. However, it was the new Hazard Cones that ended his run.
  • Alex Goodwin works at an exotic animal rescue and brought his friend Bert the Snake to hang out with Akbar while he ran. He’s known as “The Natural” because, although he hasn’t been Ninja training that long, he has an innate skill. He proved it by making it all the way to Crank It Up.
  • Taylor Johnson was the night’s shortest competitor at 4’ 11’. She was out on the Dangerous Curves.
  • Judas Licciardello ended his run on the Hazard Cones.
  • Kevin Liang hit the water on Crank It Up.
  • Angela Gargano competed last year in Philadelphia. While dismounting from the Wingnuts there, she tore her ACL and has spent her time focused on rehab and recovery since then. At the start of the course, she threw her knee brace to the side and threw herself at the obstacles. An ugly fall on the Hazard Cones interrupted her inspirational return.
  • Brandon Stenta’s eight-year-old son Brody was born the week before Brandon’s high school graduation. The two have grown up together. Brody nervously looked on as his dad navigated the course. Brandon looked tired at the end of Crank It Up, but he found the strength to go on and became the night’s first finisher.
  • 19-year-old Karter Ohlson was the youngest competitor of the night. She ended her run at the Dangerous Curves.
  • Anthony Eardley made it to Crank It Up.
  • Nick Green is a firefighter at one of the busiest firehouses in the nation. The 41-year-old took some extra swings on the Double Twister but it was the extra time he spent on Dangerous Curves that ended his run.
  • Abby Clark completed the Qualifying course in Minneapolis during season 10. This time, she sailed through the Double Twister and looked confident on the Dangerous Curves. But a pause to collect herself before the Hazard Cones didn’t help her time her steps and she fell there.
  • Martial arts instructor Alicia Tavani-Candela was out on the Double Twister.
  • Madison Square Garden stage hand Conner Claffey was a victim of the Hazard Cones.
  • Lucio Battista made it all the way to Crank it Up.
  • College student Conor Galvin brought his 93-year-old grandpa, Ducky, with him. Ducky got to watch quite a show as Conor moved quickly from obstacle to obstacle, surviving the Hazard Cones. He still had energy to spare on Crank It Up and zoomed up the Warped Wall, setting the fastest time to this point.
  • Carl Fantauzzo didn’t get past the Shrinking Steps.
  • Casey Rothschild hit the buzzer as a Philadelphia rookie last year. This night, she was out on Dangerous Curves.
  • Veteran competitor Jon Alexis Jr. was also out on Dangerous Curves.
  • Joe Moravsky returned this season with his eye on the Mega Wall, which he narrowly missed in season 10. The six-time National Finalist and the two-time Last Ninja Standing said nothing would stop him this year. We were totally sold on that idea as he muscled his way through the course. That’s why it was so shocking to watch him miss all three attempts at the Mega Wall, keeping him from the money and the buzzer.
  • Brandon Singletary competed this season alongside his dad, Desi. The friendly family rivalry kept both of them training in Newark, NJ. Brandon was steady on Dangerous Curves, but a shaky decent from the obstacle ended his run.
  • WNBA star Tamika Catchings already has four Olympic Gold Medals to her name, but she wanted a Ninja Warrior buzzer as well. At 6’2”, she was the tallest female competitor in the region and trained with Kyle Shulze, who also has hearing loss, like Tamika. She made it through the Double Twister safely, but couldn’t quite complete the Dangerous Curves.
  • Desi Singletary, Brandon’s dad, was out on the Dangerous Curves as well.
  • Cara Poalillo was another victim of the Dangerous Curves.
  • Mike “The Stallion” Silenzi completed the course with a bevy of well-known Ninjas cheering him on from the sidelines.
  • Garrett Lam is a Rhodes Scholar who credits his twin brother Austin for his inspiration. Austin has cerebral palsy and was watching intently from the sidelines. Garrett looked really strong on the course. He had a little stumble coming off the Hazard Cones, but nothing too serious. He cranked his way through the fifth obstacle before forgoing the Mega Wall for the buzzer at the top of the Warped Wall. In a tender moment, Austin and his brother both looked absolutely delighted.
  • Jamie Rahn found even more fame last season when he completed Stage One of the National Finals with no shoes on. This year, he wore some custom kicks while he completed the Qualifying course.
  • 5th grade teacher and Stage One finisher Allyssa Beird took last summer off from Ninja training to travel with her sister and recharge. The break must have worked as she quickly put the obstacles behind her. She put up a good fight on Crank It Up but ultimately fell there.
  • Zookeeper Justin Andelin was also out on Crank It Up.
  • As was Joe Capobianco.
  • Chris Wilczewski had a huge season 10 with a Mega Wall completion. He tried it again this year but was also stumped by the 18-foot wall. At this point though, it was safe to say he was through to City Finals.
  • Lucas Reale launched a great Ninja career with his rookie runs last season. He kept it up in Baltimore by completing the course again with one of the top times of the night.
  • Anthony DeFranco finished the course with speed as well, and he barely missed beating out Conor Galvin’s time.
  • Dave Cavanagh is known as the “King of the Walk-Ons” for his 77 total days in the walk-on line. He didn’t need to add to that number this year after finally getting the call to compete. Dave proved why they shouldn’t forget his number anytime soon as he finished the course with the fastest time to that point.
  • Najee Richardson made his return after a very strong Season 10 that saw him at the top of the Mega Wall, and at Stage Two of the National Finals. After the Dangerous Curves, he fell on the Hazard Cones, but lived to keep on moving. Najee made the decision to go for the Mega Wall once again, and, like those that had gone before him, couldn’t get up it. Shockingly, there was no buzzer for him, although he was safe for the City Finals. You can hear him discuss his run further in this week’s podcast.

Power Tower:

  • Conor Galvin vs Dave Cavanagh

It was the rookie vs the King of the Walk-Ons this time around! This match up was anyone’s game at the top of the giant steps, but Dave’s experience as a firefighter kicked in when it came to the poles. He was down, across, and back up before Conor. The lead allowed him the time to navigate the lachés and reach the buzzer first. Dave was through to the National Finals.

Winner: Dave Cavanagh

We won’t forget...

How serious Tamika Catchings took her Ninja Warrior experience. Let’s face it, a lot of times celebrity Ninja competitors are there to have fun. It looks cool, so they try it out with little to no specific Ninja training under their belt. Tamika buckled down and really trained for this sucker and she took every obstacle seriously. We’re hoping she returns next season!

We didn’t see that coming...

The Mega Wall had some attitude! We’ve heard that the conditions in Baltimore weren’t great for wall-scaling that night. With the wind and being near the harbor, things might have been slippery. But to stand in the way of Joe Moravsky, Chris Wilczewski, AND Najee Richardson? Yeah, we were surprised. No, it won’t stop them from getting to the City Finals, but it does remove a buzzer from their seasons and blocked them from having a chance at the Power Tower this time around.

Shout out to...

Unexpected Power Tower match-ups! When you looked at the roster for this region, it was pretty impossible not to assume at least one “well-known” name would be on the Power Tower. But Dave Cavanagh and Conor Galvin rode in on their dark horses and stole the course!

Next episode:

  • Cincinnati Qualifiers, July 8, 8/7c on NBC