We asked the question, “Does Ninja Warrior have an underdog?” and the readers answered big time. We received hundreds of responses on our social media accounts and we thought we better take a closer look at these “underdogs.”
We couldn’t include everyone that was mentioned in this article. Below are the names that were brought up enough times that we thought, “Okay, let’s look into this.” There are long time veterans, people who we saw on maybe one season, and names we hadn’t heard before.
Additionally, please remember that ANW Nation is NOT the American Ninja Warrior casting or production team. We do not decide which competitors are selected for the season. We just thought it would be fun to take a look at who the community currently has its eyes on. Some of these folks have been selected for season 13, some might be still waiting on calls. Maybe some didn’t even apply. Either way, let's meet some underdogs before they become champions!
Anthony ran the course in Baltimore back in season 11. He made it to the City Finals, and even to the Angry Birds (which no one completed that night). But he placed 16th overall which means he missed the National Finals by just a few spots.
Brett is a LONG time competitor on American Ninja Warrior. He made his debut way back in season one and has logged nine seasons. He’s competed on Sasuke. He’s designed obstacles. He’s made it to the National Finals three times but has yet to clear Stage one. And it looks like he’ll have one more shot this year.
Caleb hails from the Bergstrom family of Ninjas who also own their own Ninja gym. During his season 11 debut in Atlanta, he cleared the Mega Wall on his second attempt at just 19-years-old. Overall, he made it to Stage One of the National Finals that year. In season 12, there was an audible gasp when he fell on just the third obstacle of the Qualifying course.
Cameron’s first season had its ups and downs when a technical elimination on the Cincinnati City Finals course prevented him from moving to the National Finals. He definitely learned to keep his runs tight. Returning for season 12, he cleared the Qualifiers and Semi-Finals courses. His Finals run brought him tantalizingly close to the top eight.
Casey earned a name for herself from the get-go. In season 11, she became the youngest woman (20-years-old) to hit a buzzer during her Philadelphia Qualifying run. From there, things haven’t gone according to plan exactly. Casey did take part in season 11 but ended her season in the Qualifying round.
Clayton introduced himself as “Sharkboy” in season 11. His run in the Baltimore City Finals brought him to the Angry Birds. But his time did not bring him to Las Vegas. Clayton was about 6 seconds shy of the time needed to take 13th place on the leaderboard. Apparently, some memo went out about naming this Ninja in the comments on our post because we must have seen about 100 mentions of his name.
Conor Galvin is another competitor who debuted in Baltimore during season 11. He cleared the Qualifying course with a top time and raced Dave Cavanagh on the Power Tower. His season brought him to Stage One of the National Finals. While we didn’t see Conor on season 12 of American Ninja Warrior. He was there. Conor was the Peacock who ran the course!
Dave is a seven-time veteran of the show with an unwavering dedication to the process. Back when the walk-on line was a thing, he was known as the “king of the walk-on line,” as he spent 70-something days total over the years waiting to get on the course. Season 11 saw Dave take the top times in both the Baltimore Qualifiers and City Finals, and winning both Power Tower races, topping out on Stage Two of the National Finals. Season 12 was pretty much the opposite, as Dave fell on a balance obstacle in the Qualifiers.
In his five seasons on the show, Donovan just recently had the chance to really make an impression on the audience. In season 12, he completed the Qualifying course and then hit a 360-degree twist on the Warped Wall in the Semi-Finals. Donovan ended his year in the Finals and with more people knowing his name.
We had to dig a little to find Eric’s Ninja Warrior history. It looks like he ran in the season 10 Indianapolis Qualifiers and fell on Block Run. We don’t know much else about Eric, but we know his friends believe in him, and we know from his Instagram account that he lives and breaths for the Ninja Warrior community.
Jamie even got a shout out from the one-and-only Kacy Catanzaro when we asked about underdogs! Jamie took part in seasons 10 and 11 of Ninja Warrior. In both cases, she advanced to the City Finals but has yet to break through to the National Finals.
Season 12 was Jenn’s rookie year on the show. It was a short season when she fell on the Beehive in Qualifiers. Through her dedication to local competitions, Jenn is preparing herself for her next shot at the big stage.
Also known as “Ninja Phil,” Philip had us all in tears and on our feet for his runs in season 11. After advancing to the Cincinnati City Finals, Philip had several panic attacks shortly before his run and was on the verge of leaving the competition. Showing a rare kind of bravery, Philip stepped up to the starting line anyway and qualified for the National Finals. His year ended on Stage One.
So here’s our best guess at Ryan’s history. He has been a course tester in the past but has yet to make his debut. It looks like he was selected to run the course on the ill-fated season 12 tour that included Washington, D.C. However, when the pandemic canceled everything, it seems like he was not part of the group of Ninjas that filmed the abbreviated season 12 in St. Louis. He’s yet to have the chance to show us what he’s got. (It looks like he and Jennifer Stefano are now engaged!)
Taylor got her feet wet (so to speak) on season 11 of Ninja Warrior, ending things in the Baltimore Qualifiers. In season 12, she advanced to the Semi-Finals. But with Ninjas like Najee Richardson singing her praises, she may have more to show us.