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American Ninja Warrior season 12 recap: Season finale and winner

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And the season 12 champion is...

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

We’ve anticipated this episode for so long and yet suddenly, it’s so quickly here. Welcome to the American Ninja Warrior season 12 finale episode! The results of the night included the 11 final Ninjas to run the 10-obstacle course, the top eight leaderboard, and the results of the Power Tower playoffs.

All of the emotions were in this episode. After everything we’ve seen, and everything the Ninja Warrior community has endured this season, this finale was a triumph for every competitor regardless of their final showing. But just a few of the highlights include Jesse Labreck becoming the first woman to make the Power Tower, Amir Malik being the only rookie to make the top eight, and a moment of redemption for Daniel Gil that was seasons in the making.

Read on for a full recap of the finale, including Jessie Graff and Joe Moravsky’s surprising results.

You can find the final top eight leaderboard and Power Tower playoff results here.

Here are the results for all the night two competitors.

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Spring Forward
  • Falling Shelves
  • A new obstacle where the Ninjas grab tiny ledges as the Xs fall into position. The final X includes a blind grab.
  • Diamond Dash
  • Spin Hopper
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Slamdunk
  • Dragonback
  • The ninth obstacle requires the Ninjas to jump a bar up the dragon’s back, and then slide down to an unstable landing. They must repeat this process twice.
  • Spider Trap
  • Jeshuah Lewis:
    Jeshuah’s big family watched from their motorhome, which they use to explore the country. He made some nice transfers on Spring Forward. Jeshuah kept his feet just above the water after tripping on Diamond Dash. He made it to the back half without any more trouble but after hitting his head during a transfer on Slam Dunk, he was unable to cling to the obstacle.
    Slam Dunk: Out on Slam Dunk
  • David Wright:
    David has been simply enjoying every second of this season. He and Amir Malik have been giggling their ways to success all year on the course. David was looking to beat Amir’s performance this time around. However, he set the bar fairly low when he shockingly fell on the Falling Shelves.
    Result: Out on Falling Shelves
  • Amir Malik:
    No one saw Amir coming this season, but we’re so happy he’s here. Amir has been a blast to watch on the obstacles and his speed makes him a contender for the top eight. After linking transfers for a smooth run through Spring Forward, Amir beat his buddy David by completing the Falling Shelves. He reached the Warped Wall with the fastest time to this point. Completing Slam Dunk bumped Jody Avila out of the leaderboard. We were sure he was going back to the Spider Trap when he suddenly over shot one side of the bar on Dragonback and plummeted into the water. But his fantastic time moved him into the fifth position on the leaderboard for the time being.
    Result: Out on Dragonback
Elizabeth Morris/NBC
  • Jon Alexis Jr:
    Jon sprinted to the back half and even skipped rungs on the Salmon Ladder, but a fall on Slam Dunk would keep him out of the top eight.
    Result: Our on Slam Dunk
  • Daniel Gil:
    Daniel came in second during season 11 when he timed out on the rope climb of Stage Four. This year, he had no intentions of backing down. We had to laugh when Daniel YAWNED while on the start line. Is this course really so easy for him? Well, we never doubted his ability to get to the back half and there were no surprises there. After moving right through Slam Dunk, Daniel’s one real rest came on Dragonback. But he passed that test with flying colors. Suddenly Daniel launched into a sprint to the Spider Trap, clearly wanting a top time. Mission accomplished. Daniel hit the buzzer to take the new top time by 21 seconds. Unfortunately, that moved Flip Rodriguez out of the top eight.
    Result: Complete
  • Thomas Stillings:
    Thomas’ emotional season came to an end on the Falling Shelves. He attempted to reach between the Xs, instead of jumping the gap. When he didn’t fully latch on, he was thrown all off and twisted into the water.
    Result: Out on Falling Shelves
  • R.J. Roman:
    If there’s a Ninja that loves speed, it’s R.J. After an intro to his sweet grandmother, R.J. was off and running. His speed was making us so nervous but he seemed confident as he safely put obstacle after obstacle behind him. That is, until Dragonback. On the second slide, R.J.’s bar went crooked and he was out. Would it be enough for the Power Tower? His run did bump Cameron Baumgartner from the competition.
    Result: Out on Dragonback
  • Jessie Graff:
    Jessie has said time and again that she wants the buzzer on the extended, 10-obstacle course. Everyone was invested in seeing her get to that goal. After a fast start on the Shrinking Steps, she was through Spring Froward. Then... It was over. As Jessie transferred to the second X on Falling Shelves, she let out a cry and splashed into the water. To make matters worse, she came out of the water testing her shoulder, seeming like she might be injured. With that, Jessie’s run was over. With only three runs left, it also meant Jesse Labreck would stay in the top eight.
    Result: Out on Falling Shelves
  • Adam Rayl:
    Adam, a former gymnast, had a childhood hero watching on. Olympic silver medalist Blaine Wilson watched on the virtual sideline with his young son, a big Adam Rayl fan. We caught up with Adam’s run on Diamond Dash. After a quick chat with Matt and Akbar before the Warped Wall, he was off to the back half. Adam moved quickly through Dragonback, which terrified us. With one last slide and a leap, he was safe! As he hit the buzzer, it moved Jamie Rahn out of the competition.
    Result: Complete
  • Jake Murray:
    Jake’s top times this season have made him a favorite to go all the way. We hissed with concern when he took an odd jump on Spring Forward. He then settled into his usual groove: Fast. Jake looked so focused as he dove into the back half. His time to Dragonback ended R.J. Roman’s season. After testing out his strategy on the first dragon bump, Jake whipped through the second. Once again, jaws hit the floor as he hit the buzzer with a time under four minutes, taking the new top time.
    Result: Complete
  • Joe Moravsky:
    The last runner of the season was Joe. Could he take the top time away from Jake? It seemed like he wanted to as he raced through the obstacles. Every second he was closer to his goal until a surprise twist ending. Joe fell on Slam Dunk. Even his time to this point couldn’t keep him in the competition. Joe was out and rookie Amir Malik took the final spot in the Power Tower playoffs.
    Result: Out on Slam Dunk

Top eight:

  1. Jake Murray - 3:56.20
  2. Daniel Gil - 4:12.68
  3. Lucas Reale - 4:33.36
  4. Najee Richardson - 4:36.66
  5. Austin Gray - 4:40.29
  6. Adam Rayl - 6:24.15
  7. Jesse Labreck - 7:31.02
  8. Amir Malik - Dragonback - 2:40.70

POWER TOWER PLAYOFFS

Finally, it was time. The season was just a few minutes away from revealing its champion. We were beyond excited for these match ups. The top eight leaderboard was everything we could have hoped for. We had favored veterans, surprising rookies, and the cathartic fact that Jesse Labreck was a confirmed top athlete. Now, they needed to face one another, not just the obstacles, to win.

Round One

  • Najee Richardson vs Austin Gray
    After a tight start, Austin gained a lead to the pole climb. Najee tied it up and both Ninjas were on the dropping shelves at the same time. It was a back and forth finish that ended with Austin winning by a sheer moment.
    Winner: Austin Gray
  • Lucas Reale vs Adam Rayl
    Adam gained an early lead and maintained it. Lucas got close to closing the gap on the shelves, but it was Adam’s race.
    Winner: Adam Rayl
  • Jake Murray vs Amir Malik
    Oh, we knew this race would be good. The number one seed vs the hungry rookie? Yes, please. As the starting buzzer rang out, Amir lunged forward ferociously. Jake stumbled on the steps and with Amir in his own world, the race was sealed right then and there. Who could have predicted that?
    Winner: Amir Malik
  • Daniel Gil vs Jesse Labreck
    Just the thought of this race was a dream come true. The first woman on the Power Tower and season 11’s runner up. We had no clue who to cheer for. Couldn’t they both win? Jesse put up a valiant run, but Daniel had a commanding lead the entire time.
    Winner: Daniel Gil

Round Two

This round introduced a Cliffhanger to the Power Tower, as if the stakes weren’t high enough.

  • Austin Gray vs Amir Mailk
    Once more, Austin gained a lead from the jump and held it. Amir put up a good fight and even went for broke on the shelves, getting close to Austin. But the risk wasn’t rewarded when he fell to the safety pads while Austin hit the buzzer.
    Winner: Austin Gray
  • Daniel Gil vs Adam Rayl
    Holy smokes. Legend vs legend this time around. This would be evenly matched and hard fought. That’s what happened. We couldn’t even type fast enough to capture all the back and forth that happened. In a very close finish, Daniel claimed the win over a visibly disappointed Adam.
    Winner: Daniel Gil

Championship match

  • Austin Gray vs Daniel Gil
    The entire season came down to this race. Who would be the champion of season 12? We didn’t breath for this whole race, but with these two, it didn’t take long. Austin led on the steps again, but then they were both on the Cliffhanger, both on the poles, both on the dropping shelves and... Daniel jumped first and took the season!

American Ninja Warrior’s season 12 champion is Daniel Gil! Read his post-win interview here.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC