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Oklahoma City Finals recap: Determination on full display

No one wanted to go home early tonight.

Brett Deering/NBC

Welcome back to Oklahoma City, American Ninja Warrior fans! The Qualifiers set us up for an epic City Finals episode and it did not disappoint. Previously, four women placed in the top 30, and five made it to the fifth obstacle. They were all back with laser focus tonight. Daniel Gil had the Speed Pass and the Mega Wall, and he wanted to snag that trifecta of prizes with the Safety Pass. But he had several competitors hot on his heels, including Mathis ‘Kid’ Owhadi.

Overall, the night gave the Ninjas a chance to illustrate just how far their determination can get them and ended with a batch of National Finalists who are not to be trifled with. Including four women who all made it to the back half of the course!

By the numbers:

  • Course completions: 5
  • Ninjas taken out by the new obstacle, Snap Back: 3
  • Ninjas taken out by the returning obstacle, Crazy Clocks: 10

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Wing Swing
  • Fly Wheels
  • Diving Boards
  • Coconut Climb
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Crazy Clocks
  • Snap Back - new
  • Spider Trap
  • Power Tower for Safety Pass

The highlights:

  • Jeff Harris is known as the “Waste Warrior” due to his commitment to recycling. He managed to complete the Qualifying course and, in the City Finals, decided to take a fancy approach to the Diving Boards. On the back half of the course, he looked strong on the Crazy Clocks, giving us a long first run of the night! Jeff also gave us a peek at Snap Back before he fell on the second part of the obstacle.
  • Returning Ninja Maggi Thorne had her kids put her trademark pink bow in her hair at the starting line. As a single, working mom, she keeps busy for sure. Maggi wanted the Warped Wall in the City Finals, but that was in jeopardy after taking a very hard hit to the face on the Diving Boards. She somehow hung on and completed that obstacle, but it was obvious she was hurting and had a cut under her eye. Maggi managed to finish the Coconut Climb that ended her run in Qualifying and faced the Warped Wall she’d been trying to reach for so long.

In a show of strength, Maggi completed the wall and let her emotions loose. Also showing were the bruises starting under her eyes. She completed the Salmon Ladder and then ended her incredible run on the Crazy Clocks, making it the best run of her Ninja career. Her pain was obvious as she crawled off the course, completely spent.

Maggi tells us more about that run, and what the words “Never give up” really mean to her, on this week’s episode of the American Ninja Warrior podcast.

  • Elliott Jolivette was out on the Crazy Clocks.
  • Tyler Humphrey ended his run on the Crazy Clocks.
  • Rick Hinnant and his wife Melissa are the owners of Grace and Lace, a clothing company you might have seen on Shark Tank. Halfway through Melissa’s first pregnancy, they lost their daughter. Melissa began making clothes during her grieving process and it blossomed into an opportunity for the family. Rick ended his Ninja Warrior run on the Coconut Climb.
  • Walk-on Chris Talon Green fell on the Diving Boards.
  • Walk-on Kendall Ortez made it to the Crazy Clocks.
  • Ben Wales, another walk-on, made it to the ninth obstacle and went out on Snap Back.
  • Seven-time veteran Karsten Williams got the Mega Wall in the Qualifying round and came back with high expectations. He has a history of getting hung up on the ninth obstacle, and hadn’t completed a City Finals course in five years. Karsten flew through the front half of the course. On the Salmon Ladder, he skipped rungs like the pro he is. Putting the Crazy Clocks behind him, he was back to the ninth obstacle. Karsten had zero trouble with Snap Back and broke his curse! The Spider Trap wasn’t a roadblock for him and he hit his first buzzer on the City Finals course in five years! His poor mom could barely handle the excitement.
  • 22-year-old rookie Taylor Amann was an All American Pole Vaulter at the University of Wisconsin and she moved with that lightness through the first few obstacle. She had a little stumble on the Diving Boards, but nothing serious. The Coconut Climb got her in Qualifying. This time around, Taylor marched up the incline. We worried when we saw her feet were shaking on the descent, but she stayed locked in. The rookie earned her first Warped Wall and moved into the Salmon Ladder. She finally started to look a little tired and fell while trying to start the Crazy Clocks. The run left her in position to be a Vegas contender.
  • 10-time veteran Brent Steffensen also fell on the Crazy Clocks.
  • Ninja coach Josh Salinas managed to get past Crazy Clocks and ended his run on the Snap Back.
  • 19-year-old rookie David Wright returned with cupcakes for all! The Cake Ninja finished the Qualifying course and was ready for another sweet run. He even gave the Coconut Climb a little kiss on his smooth run to the Warped Wall. On the Crazy Clocks, he bumped the middle board with his feet and still managed to grab it. As he moved quickly through Snap Back, Matt and Akbar prepared to eat their celebratory cake. David made slow but steady progress on the Spider Trap and snagged himself a City Finals buzzer and a trip to the National Finals.
  • This was Karen Wiltin’s second trip to the City Finals in as many years. In season 10, she fell on the first obstacle in the Dallas City Finals and she did NOT want a repeat of that. We held our breath as she took extra swings on the Shrinking Steps, finally getting the dismount. Karen looked much stronger on the next few obstacles, making it back to the Coconut Climb that got her in Qualifying. Her daughters were overjoyed to watch her complete it this time. Things got nerve-wracking again when Karen needed all three attempts to get up her first Warped Wall. She can check that accomplishment off though. Karen’s run sadly ended with a bad bounce on the trampoline to the Salmon Ladder.
  • Chris Cambre and his shrimp boots were back and he finally tested them on the Warped Wall. Turns out, they do work on the obstacle. However, they didn’t help him on the Salmon Ladder, where he fell.
  • Jonathan Bange was out on the Crazy Clocks.
  • We joined Jody Avila while he was already on the course, finishing up Coconut Climb. At 6’6”, the Warped Wall wasn’t a stretch and he was quickly to the Crazy Clocks. Jody handled his large frame well on the obstacle and moved through Snap Back with his excited son, Brandon, looking on. On the Spider Trap, Jody looked tired at the final set of doors but he rallied the strength to get them open and hit the buzzer. With his first City Finals completion, he took over the second position of the night to this point.
  • Jonathan Horton is an Olympic gymnast and a five-time Ninja veteran. He hadn’t made it to Vegas yet, and after falling on the Salmon Ladder, he’ll have to continue the quest next season.
  • Madelynn McNeal was top woman from the Qualifying round. She moved fast again but repeated her fall on the Coconut Climb.
  • The last female competitor of the night was Barclay Stockett. She shared that she recently got back from a trip to the Congo with Exile International, which seeks to rehabilitate children who were abducted as child soldiers. Barclay built a Ninja course with the kids. On our course, she moved efficiently and completed the Coconut Climb that stumped her in the first round. Barclay’s trip up the Warped Wall marked four women in one night to move to the back half. Since so many had made it to that point, Barclay needed to keep her time in mind. When she touched the Crazy Clocks, she nudged Maggi Thorne out of the top two spots and locked in her trip to Vegas. Barclay’s run was completed towards the end of the obstacle.
  • Josh Norton also went out on the Crazy Clocks.
  • Six-time veteran Abel Gonzalez was looking for his fourth trip to the National Finals. He tried so hard to survive the Crazy Clocks but ended his run there.
  • Matthew Day, who went to the Power Tower in Qualifying, has a history of coming in second behind Daniel Gil. Judging by his speed on the City Finals course, he wanted to do at least that again. Suddenly a slip on the Coconut Climb dipped his back into the water and his season was over.
  • Daniel Gil had his eye on the trifecta of prizes. He had the Mega Wall, he had the Speed Pass. He just needed to get back to the Power Tower. With the Speed Pass, he was already assured a place in Vegas, so he had nothing to lose. It only took Daniel less than 30 seconds to get to the fifth obstacle, and under a minute to get to the Warped Wall. In not even two minutes, he was on the the Crazy Clocks and then handled Snap Back perfectly. Daniel was left with over a minute to finish the Spider Trap to take the top time. Which, of course, he did. Daniel held the number one spot by almost a minute.
  • Mathis ‘Kid’ Owhadi was the final runner of the night. He gave us all a bit of a shock in Qualifying when the Mega Wall kept him from the buzzer, preventing him from facing Daniel on the Power Tower. On the City Finals course, Mathis was trending behind Daniel’s time on the Crazy Clocks, but was ahead of Karsten’s time. The Kid finished Snap Back after a close grab on the first part. Daniel was telling Kid to hurry up as he moved towards the Spider Trap. He had only nine seconds left as he approached the final set of doors and hit the buzzer less than a second ahead of Karsten’s time.

Power Tower

  • Daniel Gil vs Mathis Owhadi

It was the mentor vs the student and we all knew this was going to be a good showdown. It was an evenly matched race and it could go any direction. Things were so very close as the race started. Kid then built a lead, but the question was could he hold it against Daniel? It was a battle, but Daniel lagged just slightly behind. Mathis ‘Kid’ Owhadi gets to bank on a do-over in Vegas!

Safety Pass winner: Mathis ‘Kid’ Owhadi

We won’t forget...

Maggi’s struggle against the odds to get as far as possible on the course. It was a little heart-breaking to see that, after everything, she didn’t make it into the top two for women. But she proved what’s capable when you dig deep.

We didn’t see that coming...

Matthew Day’s sudden fall on the Coconut Climb. In season 10, he took second place in the Dallas Qualifiers and City Finals. He repeated that in the Qualifiers this year. Whether his speed was a factor or not, that tiny slip, which he even managed to save to some degree, ended his run when he was just too close to the water.

Shout out to...

All the women of this region! A historic four women made it up the Warped Wall in one night and we want more of that this season!

Next episode:

  • Seattle/Tacoma City Finals - Monday, August 5, at 8/7c on NBC.