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American Ninja Warrior season 12 recap: Night one of Semi-Finals

One new obstacle really screwed up a number of Ninjas.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

American Ninja Warrior dropped the first night of its Semi-Finals and things are going to start racing along from here. There are only three episodes left in the whole season! In the Semi-Finals, only the top 12 move on, and the top two women (if there are not two women in the top 12). The course is extended to 10 obstacles, matching it with a traditional City Finals course.

This course featured a wild new obstacle called Corkscrew. It yanked the Ninjas around in ways we haven’t seen before. It also happens to be the winner of season 11’s Obstacle Design Challenge. It ended the season for a few big Ninjas. The cut off for advancement happened on obstacle nine, the treacherous new Dungeon. Only five Ninjas made it to the buzzer and you’re going to want to know who made it. Read on for the full recap!

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Off the Hook
  • Clockwork
    This new obstacle is all about timing. Ninjas must laché between three connected sprockets. Moving one sprocket moves all of them.
  • Burn Rubber
    A new balance obstacle consisting of three spinning, off-set tires.
  • Sideways
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Corkscrew
    Ninjas have to hold on to three pins that twirl and spin as they quickly drop. It’s the winner of the Season 11 Obstacle Design Challenge.
  • The Dungeon
    Ninjas climb vertically up a panel and lock it into place. They then climb back across the panel horizontally and leap to spinning board to dismount.
  • Spider Trap
    Climb 35 feet to the buzzer, shoving three sets of heavy doors out of your way.
  • Mathis “Kid” Owhadi:
    The Kid has hit six buzzers in just his two seasons on the show. His run showed us Clockwork and how to successfully get through it. He continued through the front half of the course at a solid pace, reaching the Warped Wall in under a minute. Kid was the first to test out the Corkscrew and, ouch, this thing looks painful. Kid survived the first drop, managed the huge laché up, but was twisted into the water on the second drop.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Nate Hansen:
    Nate was the rookie who inspired us all on the premiere episode of the season. He feels his growth hormone deficiency built him for Ninja Warrior success. Nate did great on Clockwork, but tripped up on the new balance obstacle.
    Result: Out on Burn Rubber
  • Sandy Zimmerman:
    Sandy spent part of this year helping a dream come true for a little girl, Oaklee. Oaklee has liver and lung disease, making gyms unsafe for her. So Sandy built her a backyard Ninja course. On the big course, Sandy was making it happen. She bunny hopped between the tires on Burn Rubber and cleared one more Warped Wall. Sandy completed the Salmon Ladder, moving into Corkscrew. She shouted out with shock during the first drop, but was unable to clear the leap to the second pin.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Zhanique Lovett:
    Zhanique’s run ended on Burn Rubber.
    Result: Out on Burn Rubber
  • Glenn Albright:
    Glenn was in the Semi-Finals thanks to a Power Tower save by teammate Jake Murray. He fell on Burn Rubber.
    Result: Out on Burn Rubber
  • Barry Goers:
    Barry was also saved by Jake, and the hockey player tried to make the most of it, reaching the Corkscrew.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Donovan Metoyer:
    This classy Ninja always runs in a three-piece suit. He flew right through Off The Hook, Clockwork, and Burn Rubber. At the Warped Wall, he earned a whoop from everyone when he pulled off a stunning 360 degree spin while reaching the ledge. After losing the jacket, he was the first Ninja to not lose it on Corkscrew. Donovan showed us to the Dungeon but he was tapped. He fell while trying to climb back to final panel.
    Result: Out on The Dungeon
  • Caitlyn Bergstrom:
    Caitlyn ended her season on Off The Hook.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Ryan Lashoff:
    The rookie made it to the Corkscrew.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Tyler Gillett:
    Tyler made us all emotional by sharing that he was running for his cousin, Bill. Bill was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer about a year ago. After beating it, it returned a few months ago, with doctors giving Bill only weeks to live. But no one is giving up the fight. Tyler moved through the course with an aggression that reflected that resolve. On Corkscrew, he pulled his legs close to his body, controlling the force that twisted him. After surviving that, he dove into The Dungeon. Through some exhausting work, Tyler made the jump to the last panel and cleared the obstacle. We cried out when he slipped at the very top of the Spider Trap, but he was safe. He hit a powerful buzzer for cousin Bill.
    Result: Complete
  • Ashley McConville:
    Ashley earned her first buzzer in the Qualifiers, but her run ended on Burn Rubber.
    Result: Out on Burn Rubber
  • Mike Wright:
    The Speedo Ninja endured a bit of a wardrobe malfunction (No, not like THAT) before falling on the Corkscrew.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Grant McCartney:
    Grant pulled one over on Matt and Akbar when it looked like he was introducing Zuri Hall to the course. But it was just one of his creative entrances. During the run, we were worried for the Island Ninja when he had trouble on Off The Hook and stumbled on Burn Rubber. He needed to clean up the run if he wanted to survive. Even Matt gave him a talking to when Grant stopped to dance on the Warped Wall. Corkscrew dropped Grant’s large, tall frame with force that twisted his shoulders and arms. He was able to hang on twice, but the third drop plunge him into the water. Would his time keep him in the top 12? Unfortunately, it would not.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Abel Gonzalez:
    Abel also fell on Corkscrew.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Kevin Bull:
    Corkscrew solidified its place as a Ninja killer when it knocked Kevin out of the competition.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Cameron Baumgartner:
    When Cameron was just 12-years-old, he had a blockage in his heart valve that required surgery. He called himself a “short, skinny kid” after the experience. But now he’s a top athlete. Even Ethan Swanson called him a “monster” on the course. Cameron was methodical as he passed obstacle after obstacle. He was very controlled and powerful on Corkscrew and then again on The Dungeon. Cameron stared down the final obstacle for a moment before flying up the chute, clearing the course with an extremely solid time.
    Result: Complete
  • Roo Yori:
    Roo’s year ended on the second obstacle.
    Result: Out on Off The Hook
  • Jackson Twait:
    Jackson had one of the most painful kinds of runs to witness, when a Ninja is SO close to victory and it slips away just a few feet from the buzzer.
    Result: Out on Spider Trap
  • Jamie Rahn:
    This run would test Jamie’s recent thumb injury. We joined him as he moved into the back half of the course. Jamie had a surprisingly gentle ride on the first Corkscrew and got through the obstacle. We winced while watching Jamie grit his way through The Dungeon, thinking of his injury. He made a small error while leaping to the last panel that ended the run.
    Result: Out on The Dungeon
  • Gabriel Hotchkiss:
    It was announced that Corkscrew was season 11’s Obstacle Design Challenge winner, created by competitor Josh Norton, who was out in the Qualifying round. But his obstacle was taking out his friends left and right. Gabriel was one of those victims.
    Result: Out on Corkscrew
  • Daniel Gil:
    We joined Daniel already on the course, heading into the back half. Josh was watching via camera has his friend attempted his dubious obstacle. But Daniel was ready to hang on tight. After The Dungeon, there was no stopping him. Daniel hit the buzzer, claiming the top time to this point by a lot.
    Result: Complete
  • Allyssa Beird:
    Allyssa started her season with a buzzer and everyone expected big things from her this year. We were all shook with surprise when she missed the last grab on Clockwork.
    Result: Out on Clockwork
  • Jonathan Horton:
    The Olympic gymnast fell on Clockwork.
    Result: Out on Clockwork
  • Jake Murray:
    After a wild story about caving with Ninjas Kyle Soderman and Hunter Guerard, Jake took to the course. We joined him on the back half of the course. Could he handle the twists of Corkscrew? He could! What about The Dungeon? He could handle that as well! He looked strong as he climbed into the Spider Trap chute. Jake was in a position to take the top time as he moved along. For the first time this run, Jake moved a bit slower on the Spider Trap. But in yet another twist, he snagged the top time for himself by about one second.
    Result: Complete
  • Flip Rodriguez:
    The fan favorite was out on The Dungeon, but he would make the top 12 for the Finals.
    Result: Out on The Dungeon
  • Adam Rayl:
    Adam hit the buzzer with his very nervous mother watching on the virtual sideline.
    Result: Complete
  • Chris DiGangi:
    Chris moved on to the Finals with his run to The Dungeon.
  • Jesse Labreck:
    Jesse hit her fifth buzzer in the Qualifiers but she wanted more. Her solid run to the back half gave her a good start. Completing the Salmon Ladder made her the top woman for the night. Chris and Allyssa were losing their minds on the sideline as Jesse clutched her way through the Corkscrew, becoming the first woman to best it. That obstacle completion also officially nudged Kid Owhadi out of the top 12. On The Dungeon, she fell almost exactly where her fiancé, Chris, had finished his run. No buzzer, but she will be coming back to the Finals.
    Result: Out on The Dungeon
  • Jody Avila:
    Jody’s wife, Pauline, had headed back to Texas to return to work as a nurse, but she was on the virtual sideline with their two boys. Jody had the fastest time in the Qualifiers and it looked like he wanted to claim that title again. He was ahead of Jake Murray’s time to the Warped Wall. With those long legs and arms, Jody looked like a twirling leaf on the Corkscrew, but he hung in there! The Dungeon put him into the top 12, but he would miss out on another buzzer.
    Result: Out on The Dungeon