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American Ninja Warrior season 12 recap: Night one of Qualifiers

The Ninjas are BACK!

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

We have waited so long to type these words... American Ninja Warrior is back with a brand new season! Season 12 was filmed entirely in St. Louis at the Dome at American’s Center. The format is a little different than we’re used to seeing. We suggest you read more about it here to understand the new rules.

Production took many, many precautions to protect the Ninjas and crew while filming during a pandemic. You’ll notice that Zuri stands well away from the Ninjas to conduct her sideline interviews. No friends or family were allowed, but you will see them cheering their Ninjas on via a virtual sideline. To make sure every Ninja had the support they needed during filming, they were set up in “groups” of community members. (You can read more about those groups here.) They were the only people allowed by the course during a run, and they followed markers on the floor that kept them spaced apart from one another.

There! With all that acknowledged and said, let’s just get down to the action! Night one of the Qualifiers brought us back to the course with some tricky new obstacles and inspiring new Ninjas. It took us about 10 seconds before we started crying, and about 20 seconds before we were cheering. Read on!

If you want just the cliff-notes, click here for a list of where all the competitors ended their runs and here for a look at the leaderboard.

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Weight For It
    A new obstacle where a Ninja’s weight as they hold or release a bar triggers the fall of the next bar.
  • Ring Chaser
    Once a Ninja began this obstacle, they were chasing a 14-inch ring across monkey bars. If they didn’t grab it in time, they’d need to use a much smaller, eight-inch ring to transition to the end of the obstacle.
  • Rib Run
    A new balance obstacle.
  • Slingshot
  • Warped Wall or 18-foot Mega Wall
    The Mega Wall returns with a change to the rules from last season. Basically, we’re using season 10’s Mega Wall rules once again. Ninjas can attempt the Mega Wall once. If they get it, they earn $10,000. If they fail, they must move to the Warped Wall and have one shot to complete the obstacle.

The competition:

  • Robert Moffitt:
    The season kicked off with this school teacher from Vermont, and of course Allyssa Beird was on his sideline! His run showed us the technicalities of the new Weight For It and the emphasis on timing. That continued as he raced the ring on obstacle three. Robert looked great until Rib Run tripped him up.
    Result: Out on Rib Run
  • Kamerion Wimbley:
    Kamerion is both an NFL and Ninja Warrior veteran. He hit a buzzer back in season four, but it’s been a few years. Kamerion was part of Grant McCartney’s “big boys” group along with Mike Wright. Unfortunately, his return was short lived when he fell on the second obstacle.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
Elizabeth Morris/NBC
  • Pauline Avila:
    Pauline is a true frontline hero of this pandemic. She’s an ICU nurse in a Houston, TX hospital, dedicated to the critical care of Covid-19 patients. Her testimony is absolutely heartbreaking. It’s compounded by the fact that she’s needed to isolate from her family during this time. That includes her two boys, and her husband, fellow Ninja Warrior Jody Avila. Taking part in Ninja Warrior was a mental break for Pauline. And she enjoyed every moment even if she did end her run quickly.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • John Huie:
    John is a music teacher who was also inspired by Allyssa Beird. He demonstrated what happens if you miss the ring on Ring Chaser. John used the smaller ring to complete the obstacle, which requires more precision. But he wasn’t as precise on Rib Run.
    Result: Out on Rib Run
  • Sheila Williams:
    The mom of five splashed down on the first obstacle.
    Result: Out on Shrinking Steps
  • Sandy Zimmerman:
    Sandy became the first mom to hit a buzzer in season 11 and has inspired countless other since then. At 44-years-old, she was also the oldest competitor of the night. She needed to use the smaller ring on Ring Chaser and cleared Rib Rub with a dive to the platform. It looked like Sandy was well-equipped to handle all the drops on Slingshot, but she wouldn’t reach buzzer number two.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Rusty Rivera:
    With Casey Suchocki cheering him on, Rusty fell on Weight For It.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Nichelle Simon
    The hockey player also fell on obstacle two.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Casey Suchocki:
    With his grandpa and his wife on the virtual sideline, Casey put up a solid run to Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Nate Hansen:
    The 20-year-old rookie was part of Tyler Gillett’s group for the night. Nate is no stranger to obstacles. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. After years of shots, he topped out at 5’2” tall and experienced a lot of bullying. Now he’s known as Gnarly Ninja Nate and for good reason. He handled every aspect of the course and was the first of the night to hit the buzzer!
    Result: Complete
  • Kenneth Edwards:
    With no walk-on line this season, Dave Cavanagh had two walk-ons from last season in his group. Kenneth was up first and was out on obstacle two.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Sloane Cameron:
    Sloane started with a strong run, but was tripped up on Rib Run.
    Result: Out on Rib Run
  • Dave Cavanagh:
    The past “king of the walk-on line” made it to Stage Two last season. Shockingly, his year ended in Qualifiers on Rib Run.
    Result: Out on Rib Run
  • Flip Rodriguez:
    Flip’s tenth season on the show is a bittersweet one. Since last season, he’s lost his precious dog Maui to an autoimmune disease. Flip was and is devastated by the loss. On the course, he also wore a “Ninjas For Black Lives” shirt to bring awareness to social justice. Flip looked poised to be one of the night’s finishers when he overshot a transition on Slingshot and hit the water. However, he would still advance to the Semi-Finals.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
Elizabeth Morris/NBC
  • Peter Liston:
    The rookie had Flip’s coaching, but was out on Ring Chaser.
    Result: Out on Ring Chaser
  • David Alvarez:
    You might remember David from season 11, when he was looking for his little sister. They have reconnected and David’s Qualifying run led him to the Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Allyssa Beird
    Allyssa was back for her fifth year on the course and she used her traditional thoughtful approach to the obstacles. She missed the large ring on the third obstacle but had no trouble utilizing the smaller one. Allyssa is not one to bomb through a course and it paid off. She bounced carefully through Slingshot and then just came up short on the Warped Wall. She remedied the issue with attempt number two and added one more buzzer to her collection!
    Result: Complete
  • Michael Johnson:
    Michael led a group of New Yorkers this season. His run ended on Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Dilan Gomih
    Dilan has attended both Harvard and Yale. She was out on Weight For It.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Anthony Eardley:
    Anthony sent his welding mask flying with a flip at the starting line. He was overjoyed to be on the course and the energy carried him through the first few obstacles. He ended up trying to catch the ring on obstacle two with his foot, and when it didn’t work, the smaller ring proved to be a barrier.
    Result: Out on Ring Chaser
Elizabeth Morris/NBC
  • Tegan Roobol:
    Tegan was one of Sandy Zimmerman’s mom-squad. This mom of two ended her season on the Ring Chaser.
    Result: Out on Ring Chaser
  • Isaiah Wakeham:
    Isaiah was a rookie from Houston with season 11 rookie Seth Rogers on his sideline. He was also out on Ring Chaser.
    Result: Out on Ring Chaser
  • Ashley Wells
    Ashley was another 19-year-old in Seth’s group. She made a run-ending miscalculation on Weight For It.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Seth Rogers:
    Seth was season 11’s top rookie and he made it all the way to Stage Three. During Qualifiers, he was one of many who fell on Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Chellsie Memmel:
    Chellsie earned an Olympic silver medal in gymnastics in the 2008 games. Now also a mom of two, her run ended on Weight For It.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Jonathan Horton:
    Jonathon is another Olympic medalist and he comes with Ninja experience. He made it all the way to Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Ryan Lashoff:
    Ryan was another member of Tyler Gillett’s group. The hockey player avoided being iced all the way to Slingshot
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Tyler Gillett:
    This season, Tyler is running for his cousin, Bill, who has pancreatic cancer. We’ll hear more about that story as the season goes on because Tyler hit the buzzer with the fastest time to this point.
    Result: Complete
  • Hunter Hollingshead:
    Hunter and his twin brother Nolan are hang-gliding Ninja Warriors. Hunter breezed through the obstacles until Slingshot.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Nolan Hollingshead:
    Nolan didn’t fly quite as far as his brother. He was out on Ring Chaser.
    Result: Out on Ring Chaser
  • Mike Wright:
    Yes, Mike still wore his trademark Speedo. But even more importantly, we got a peek at his adorable baby boy! Mike had a great run through the course. Slingshot might have taken him out twice in season 11, but he got his revenge this time around. Completing the Warped Wall awarded him his first buzzer.
    Result: Complete
  • Julius Ferguson:
    Julius is a Ninja and a rapper. He hit a major milestone when he completed the course, making it his first buzzer in three seasons.
    Result: Complete
  • Taylor Johnson:
    The gymnastics coach was out on Slingshot, but at this point in the night, we knew she’d advance to the Semi-Finals.
    Result: Out on Slingshot
  • Grant McCartney:
    The six-time veteran always has something fun going on, like crushing fruit to train, but over the years he’s learned to focus when he’s on the course. He missed the ring on Ring Chaser and maneuvered the smaller ring with success. He nimbly moved his big frame through Rib Run and balanced out a near-miss on Slingshot. Grant set himself up for the Mega Wall but missed his attempt and ultimately cleared the course with the Warped Wall.
    Result: Complete
  • Roge’t Maddox:
    A member of Jody Avila’s group, Roge’t hit the water on Weight For It.
    Result: Out on Weight For It
  • Jody Avila:
    Jody has been busier than ever with his family during Pauline’s self-isolation. It seems like that has helped him stay light on his feet. He handled this course with a new speed we haven’t really seen from Jody before. Jody zipped through the course to take the top time of the night!
    Result: Complete - Top time

Click here to review the leaderboard.

Click here for a break down of falls by obstacle.

Next episode:
Monday, September 14
Night two of Qualifiers