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American Ninja Warrior recap: Night one of Qualifiers

Season 13 is off and running with the teens taking the lead.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Just like that, we’re back, baby!

American Ninja Warrior returned for its 13th season and things are off and running right out of the gate. Literally. The teen competitors came in hot and made a clear statement that they won’t be heading home soon. As they rose to the top of the leaderboard, some of the adults were set back on their heels, including a shocking surprise for Daniel Gil. We saw the introduction of Split-Decision and there are already Ninjas questioning their own logic.

Season 13 will include five nights of Qualifiers and then four nights of Semifinals before heading to the National Finals in Las Vegas. There’s a lot to unpack here so we’ll clam up and get to it!

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Overpass (new)
  • Split Decision
    Domino Effect (new)
    Spinning Log
  • Tipping Point (new)
  • V Formation (new)
  • Warped Wall/Mega Wall

Jump to a leaderboard of the advancing Ninjas here.

Review all the falls on the course here.

Mathis “Kid” Owhadi: Kid was one of the youngest to participate in the show when he joined at age 19. Unfortunately, a misstep on the Spinning Log shockingly ended his season just as it started.
Result: Out on Rolling Log

Sophie Shaft: At just 16-years-old, Sophie, a power-lifter, impressed everyone with her huge laché on Overpass. After choosing to take the Domino Effect, Sophie couldn't quite handle the transition on Tipping Point.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Victor Huff: He missed the bar on Overpass and then missed out on the laché.
Result: Out on Overpass

Chynna Hart: Out on Domino Effect

Ernesto Perez: Ernesto uses his character of Flybird to stand against bullying. After some trouble on the Shrinking Steps, Ernesto tiptoed across the Spinning Log. He made a heroic effort to hang on to Tipping Point but ended his run there.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Sam Sann: The Ninja Warrior legend was back after three seasons away. At 53-years-old, Sam’s Ninja skills are as sharp as ever. He missed the bar on Overpass but nailed the laché. After flipping a coin at Split-Decision, Sam trotted across the Spinning Log. He brought us all the way to V Formation. Sam powered through the ascent and held tight on the descent. We thought he had it until he slipped off the final handle.
Result: Out on V Formation

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Emmanual Aouad: The musician was out on Domino Effect.

Ken Singletary: Out on the Spinning Log.

Wade Lopp: After some indecision, Wade opted for the Spinning Log. A smart choice that brought his run to V Formation.
Result: Out on V Formation.

Adam Naids: The NASA Aerospace Engineer had great timing on Overpass. After crossing the Spinning Log, he worked his way through Tipping Point. Adam nailed the V Formation ascent in just two moves but didn’t survive the obstacle.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Tom Mortimer: Star Wars actor Greg Grunberg joined on the virtual sidelines. Both Tom and Greg have sons with epilepsy and work together to raise awareness and funds for the cause. Tom selected Domino Effect and ended his run on Tipping Point.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Gloria Orta: Gloria missed the bar on Overpass and did not make the leap.
Result: Out on Overpass

Cody McCloud: Evel Knievel’s grandson crashed out on the Domino Effect.
Result: Out on Overpass

Elijah Browning: Elijah loudly announced the arrival of the teens to the leaderboard when the ANW Jr alum cruised through the course. He took the Spinning Log and never looked back. After a perfect trip across V Formation, he bounced up the Warped Wall to take the title of the youngest Ninja to hit a buzzer (so far).
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Evan Perperis: The Army Special Forces Officer was quickly out on the Shrinking Steps.

Mallory Simpson: He was out on the Spinning Log.

Jade Buford: Jade became the most successful NASCAR driver in ANW history when he almost cleared Tipping Point. Despite a valiant effort to cling to the landing pad, he ended up in the water. But Jade’s speedy time put him into the Semifinals.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Jonathan Horton: The Olympic Silver Medalist in gymnastics has competed on ANW six times with no trips to the National Finals. Jonathan hoped to change that this season while fellow Olympian Adam Rippon watched on the sidelines. After taking the Spinning Log, Jonathan slipped off the end of the second plank, narrowly putting him in the top 30.
Result: Out on Tipping Point

Isabella Wakeham: Isabella trains with her best friend and big brother, Isaiah. She started training at age 10 and now, seven years later, she gets to enjoy the fruits of all that work. Isabella made it to the fifth obstacle before hitting the water, making her the top woman of the night to that point.
Result: Out on V Formation

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Isaiah Wakeham: Right after Isabella, brother Isaiah also made it to V Formation.
Result: Out on V Formation

Nate Pardo: The 16-year-old fell on the third handle of V Formation but was so quick in getting to that point.
Result: Out on V Formation

Christian Youst: Also 16-years-old, Christian had similar results. He was out on V Formation with a time that moved him into the next round.
Result: Out on V Formation

Barclay Stockett: It was an incredibly emotional return for Barclay. She took off season 12 to focus on her mom, who had cancer. Barclay’s mom, Eva, did pass away and this run was clearly heavy for her. With all her Ninja friends on the sidelines, Barclay made a strong start on the Shrinking Steps, only to peel off the bar of Overpass. Our hearts ached for Barclay as her friends rushed to comfort her.
Result: Out on Overpass

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Ben Wilson: Out on Domino Effect.

Christie Brophy: Out on Domino Effect.

Wes Meador: Out on the Spinning Log.

Jonathan Godbout: Yes, this impressive Ninja is another teenager! Jonathan is 16 and spends his non-Ninja time being a junior in high school and drumming in a band with his brother. After showing off quick feet on Domino Effect, Jonathan was textbook perfect on Tipping Point. He nailed every landing on V Formation and opted to head right for the Warped Wall. The second finisher of the night was another teen!
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Ruthie Bolton: Basketball player Ruthie Bolton helped bring Team USA the Olympic gold in 1996 and 2000. Fellow WNBA legends Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Catchings were on the virtual sideline. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see as Ruthie fell on the Shrinking Steps.
Result: Out on Shrinking Steps

Vinnie Castranova: The plumbing Ninja flowed through the course to the buzzer.
Result: Complete

Caleb Dowden: Caleb is a fourth-generation farmer looking to keep the family business afloat. He grabbed the moving bar on Overpass and made it across the Spinning Log. Caleb lasted through an uncomfortable trip across Tipping Point but ended the run one obstacle later.
Result: Out on V Formation

John Loobey: After shooing the kids off his course, the 69-year-old Ninja was out on the Shrinking Steps.
Result: Out on Shrinking Steps

Jeri D’Aurelio: Overpass went well for Jeri, but Domino Effect did not.
Result: Out on Domino Effect

Lindsay Eskildsen: Lindsay took a break from Ninja Warrior to have her children. In fact, her son was just 3.5 months old when she put together this run. Lindsay almost fell backward off the Dominos and saved it with some impressive core strength. After getting through Tipping Point, Lindsay was emotional with excitement. She finally tapped out at the top of V Formation, moving into the Semifinals with a strong position.
Result: Out on V Formation

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Lane Saling: The University of Arkansas kicker landed a field goal before landing in the water from Overpass.
Result: Out on Overpass

Thomas Stillings: Thomas had never missed a buzzer in the Qualifiers until he met a watery end on Spinning Log.
Result: Out on Spinning Log

Jeremy Clark: The nurse and father was SO close to the water on Tipping Point but made it to V Formation and the Semifinals.
Result: Out on V Formation

Isaiah Thomas: This ANW Jr veteran was just 15-years-old. His mom, Jennie, looked nervous on the sidelines but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Isaiah was spot on all through the course. He made massive moves on V Formation and tried his hand at the Mega Wall. Isaiah was very close but ended up completing the Warped Wall with the fastest time as the youngest ever to reach the buzzer (again, to this point).
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Nate Burkhalter: He was out on Overpass.

Abel Gonzalez: He missed the dismount from V Formation but was safe for the Semis.
Result: Out on V Formation

Jody Avila: The veteran Ninja killed it on the course. He tried for a top time and missed his first Warped Wall attempt. He made it to the buzzer and jokingly asked the young guns to slow it down a little.
Result: Complete

Daniel Gil: Last but not least, the season 12 winner closed things out with the biggest surprise of the night. Daniel has only fallen on a course outside of the National Finals once before and it looked like he was there to do what he does best: Hit buzzers. Daniel took the Spinning Log and was incredibly in control of Tipping Point. He was quick to V Formation, and quickly in the water. When he miscalculated the handle’s placement, the resulting jolt plunged Daniel down. He’s still in the Semifinals, but he was clearly taken aback by the moment.
Result: Out on V Formation

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

As seen on Akbar’s Gbajabia-moments

  • Juliana Wilson: Out on Shrinking Steps
  • Dana Kieler: Out on Overpass
  • Nikki Asirvadam: Out on Shrinking Steps

We close out the first episode of the Qualifiers with three teens in the top five! They’re sending a strong message about how this season will go.

You can find a leaderboard of advancing competitors here.

Here, you can read the “by the numbers” breakdown of the episode.