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American Ninja Warrior season 12 recap: Night four of Qualifiers

So many buzzers! But is that a good thing?

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

American Ninja Warrior’s fourth night of Qualifiers marked an important milestone for this season. It was the last round of Qualifiers. If a Ninja wasn’t in this group, they’re not in the season. If they didn’t advance on this episode, they’re not moving on.

Joe Moravsky, Lance Pekus, Tiana Webberley, Michael Torres. Those are just a few names of the veteran Ninjas in this group. With all that pressure, it was an especially thrilling night with a very happy theme: Buzzers, especially first buzzers. There were a lot of buzzers going around. But that leads us to the next conundrum, with more than 12 buzzers, not every finisher can advance...

Read on to find out how the night unfolded!

Click here for a look at the leaderboard and advancing Ninjas.

Click here for a run down of all the runs.

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Off the Hook
  • Beehive
  • Spinning Bridge
  • Sideways
    A new obstacle featuring rotating boards that the Ninjas traverse sideways.
  • Warped Wall/Mega Wall
  • Brandon White:
    The former football player joined Brian Kretsch’s group for the season. His claim to fame is catching marshmallows in his mouth from up to 90 feet away. Brian coached him through Off the Hook and he moved slowly through Beehive. It was a trip on Spinning Bridge that ended his run.
    Result: Out on Spinning Bridge
  • Vance Harris:
    The second member of Brian’s group is a kayaker and a rookie on the course. That didn’t seem possible by watching him plunge through the obstacles. After a long journey on Off the Hook, he found his stride on Beehive. Vance showed us the new Sideways obstacle and he did great on it. After hitting the Warped Wall on the first try, he snagged his first buzzer and the first buzzer of the night.
    Result: Complete
  • Kat Henschen:
    Kat is a dog groomer by trade with a close tie to her group captain, Lance Pekus. Kat’s husband has MS, just like Lance’s wife. They relate to one another over the very emotional role of caregiver. Kat was a hair’s breadth away from touching the water on the Shrinking Steps. On Off the Hook, she lost her momentum and was unable to complete the obstacle.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Gary Brown:
    Gary was an outfielder who played in the World Series with the San Francisco Giants. For Ninja Warrior, he joined Karsten William’s group. Gary looked great on Off the Hook and was quickly through the Spinning Bridge. His run ended while transitioning to the middle slider on Sideways.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Isaiah Barney:
    Isaiah led Kevin Bull and Abbey Steffl in a traditional Haka dance before he started his run. He was out on the Spinning Bridge.
    Result: Out on Spinning Bridge
  • Abbey Steffl:
    Abbey knows Kevin Bull through his work with the Children’s Alopecia Project. Her daughter Molly has alopecia and they’re close with Kevin. She made it to the Beehive.
    Result: Out on Beehive
  • Chinna Balachandran:
    Chinna was the first of Tiana Webberley’s group who are connected by medical miracles. He endured a brain injury in 2019 and went through a long rehab to learn how to walk and talk again. A year later, he was on the course. Unfortunately, he was out on Off the Hook.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Katie Lanza:
    Katie shared the heart-wrenching story of her son, Nolan. He was born premature and it was soon discovered that he had a genetic condition that needed to be treated with a bone marrow transplant. He spent a month in the hospital with weekly chemo treatments and steroids. During the experience, Katie started Ninja Warrior training and that’s how she met Tiana Webberley. We wish her run had lasted longer. After a hard hit on the Shrinking Steps, she was out on Off the Hook. Nolan was still so proud of his mom.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Tiana Webberley:
    Little Nolan was on the sideline to cheer for Tiana now. She was back for her sixth season, and while she’s made the National Finals for the past two years, Tiana hasn’t reached the buzzer yet. But that was about to change. Tiana almost touched the water on the Spinning Bridge and yanked herself to safety. Then she got to work on Sideways. staying in good control. Finally, she was one Warped Wall away from her first buzzer. That completion was a tremendous moment for her and everyone who got to celebrate right along with her.
    Result: Complete
  • Luke Mickelson:
    Luke, who was in Lance Pekus’ group, builds bunkbeds for underprivileged children. His run ended on Off the Hook.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Lance Pekus:
    The Cowboy Ninja once again wrangled the course. He tried the Mega Wall, which he nailed last season, but came up short. He did complete the course.
    Result: Complete
  • Amir Malik:
    The rookie from Vermont is a baker, which makes him a perfect group member for David Wright, the Cake Ninja. We didn’t know what to expect from the new competitor, but whoa, did he deliver. Amir zipped across the Spinning Bridge and bolted into Sideways, which lead to a run up the Warped Wall. He was so excited to hit the buzzer that he actually broke it!
    Result: Complete
  • Brian Kretsch:
    The OG Ninja is understandably nervous about balance obstacles after breaking his leg on the course a few season back. But he was safely across the Spinning Bridge and then safely on top of the Warped Wall.
    Result: Complete
  • Kaleaha Rayner:
    Kaleaha is a second member of Karsten’s group. She was out on Off the Hook, but she hung in there, trying for 15 swings to make it work.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Karsten Williams:
    Karsten returned after hitting four buzzers in season 11 and making it to Stage Three. We had a feeling he was going for a Power Tower time as he whipped through the course. But that speed might have contributed a tiny error on Sideways that caused a board to flip and send him into the water.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Kevin Bull:
    Kevin made short work of the obstacles and was right to the Warped Wall. The buzzers were racking up!
    Result: Complete
  • Kemar Barcoo:
    Kemar was part of Mady Howard’s group. He’s a hospital worker on the front lines of the pandemic. At 6’6”, he was one of the night’s larger competitors. He was out when he couldn’t find his swing on Beehive.
    Result: Out on Beehive
  • Faith Fitzgerald:
    Faith is a rodeo cowgirl from Utah. She was out on the Shrinking Steps.
    Result: Out on Shrinking Steps
  • Mady Howard:
    Mady was a breakout star in season 11 after stellar runs in Seattle/Tacoma. As an ICU nurse, she’s faced with the realities of Covid-19 every day. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to take part in season 12 but ultimately decided she wanted to help share some joy in the world. We’re glad she did. Mady stayed in control the entire time and worked through Sideways. Completing the Warped Wall gave Mady her first buzzer!
    Result: Complete
  • Alex Carson:
    Alex rounded out David Wright’s group with his cheesecake skills. He also got his first buzzer on the course!
    Result: Complete
  • David Wright:
    Finally, it was the Cake Ninja’s turn and he flew through the course. He gave the Mega Wall a shot and didn’t make it but he did finish the course. That makes his group the first to have all three members hit the buzzer!
    Result: Complete
  • Kyle Shulze:
    Kyle is known as the Deaf Ninja. He was part of Michael Torres’ team along with Jimmy Choi. What an inspiring team! Kyle had trouble spinning the middle honeycomb on the Beehive. He made it past the Spinning Bridge which got him last season. It was the second half of Sideways that sent him into the water.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Jeri D’Aurelio:
    Back for her sixth year on the course, Jeri led a group of military Ninjas. Her run to Sideways put her in the top three for women at that point.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Michael Bougher:
    The National Guardsman didn’t compete last season because he was at Army Ranger school. He went out on Beehive.
    Result: Out on Beehive
  • Verdale Benson:
    Verdale received a bronze star for his service in Afghanistan as an Army medic. He participated in the theme of the night by getting his first buzzer!
    Result: Complete
  • Will Schlageter:
    Will, part of Joe Moravsky’s group, has a long history with Ninja Warrior. He applied back in 2012 for season four when he was only 14. The show let his dad run the course in his place and it didn’t go well. Now that Will is old enough to do the thing himself, he did a bit better. He didn’t fall on the first obstacle, but he was out on Beehive.
    Result: Out on Beehive
  • Jimmy Choi:
    Jimmy’s return to the course was a pleasant surprise. He thought that his Parkinson’s was going to force his retirement from the sport. But a cutting edge new treatment gave him a second chance. Ninja Warrior has always meant so much to Jimmy, who works so hard to be ready for the challenge. He was devastated when he missed the rope grab on the Shrinking Steps. Michael Torres promised to try to bring him back into the game through the Power Tower.
    Result: Out on Shrinking Steps
  • Jennifer Stefano:
    The rookie, part of Lucas Reale’s group, was out on the Beehive.
    Result: Out on Beehive
  • Lucas Reale:
    The two-time National Finalist set the fastest time to this point with his course completion.
    Result: Complete
  • Michael Torres:
    Michael Torres had one thing on his mind: Saving his team. Right off the bat, he was going as fast as he could, running between the obstacles. Without a second glance at the Mega Wall, he went for the buzzer to set the fastest completion time of the night.
    Result: Complete
  • Meagan Martin:
    Back for her seventh season and wearing her “Ninjas for Black Lives” patch, Meagan took to the course. Completing the Spinning Bridge put her in the top three for women. She fell on Sideways, but did lock in her spot to advance to the Semi-Finals.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Matt Carmona:
    Matt, who was part of Kid Owhadi’s group, was out on Off the Hook.
    Result: Out on Off the Hook
  • Sophia Oster:
    Sophia was also on Kid’s team. She ran the course in a dress and did great, making it all the way to Sideways.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Kid Owhadi:
    Kid is always speedy and he was moving through this course. He missed the Mega Wall last season and it was unfortunately a repeat when he tried this time as well. But he did complete the course with the third fastest time to this point.
    Result: Complete
  • Jeshuah Lewis:
    Jesuah’s run was shown almost in a flashback during Joe’s introduction. He fell on Sideways.
    Result: Out on Sideways
  • Joe Moravsky:
    With his wife due with their third child (who has safely arrived!), Joe wanted that Mega Wall more than ever. He’d missed out on completing the wall for the past two seasons. But at the same time, he had to be fast if he wanted a chance to save his team on the Power Tower. His decision? Do both. Joe went all out on the course, completing Sideways with about 10 seconds left if he wanted a top time. He looked at the Mega Wall, launched himself... And made it! He got $10,000 and the second fastest time of the night.
    Result: Complete with Mega Wall

Power Tower

  • Michael Torres vs Joe Moravsky

So much was on the line with this one. Joe wanted to revitalize the two long-time fans and hard working Ninjas on his team. Michael wanted to bring back the determined Kyle and Jimmy.

Both are elite competitors. This truly could have gone anyway. But Joe got a jump from the start line that made us think Michael might be out of this competition. Somehow, Michael closed the gap on the dropping shelves. He tried to jump for the ledge, as we saw R.J. Roman do in week three, but he wasn’t successful. He fell to the mat below while Joe hit the buzzer.

Winner: Joe Moravsky