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American Ninja Warrior 2021 Women’s Championship recap

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This episode highlighted the extreme talents of the women of Ninja.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Oh, we have waited SO long to be able to celebrate American Ninja Warrior’s first-ever Women’s Champion! This special episode was recorded back in 2020, but trust us, the wait was worth it.

The atmosphere on the day of the Women’s Special was deliciously infectious. The women were relaxed and happy to have their chance to shine. Sure, they all wanted the prize, but they all wanted to have fun more. The camaraderie was on full display as 12 of the strongest women in the sport took on a whole new challenge.

The winner is listed down below, but really, the viewers won big time. Let’s talk about what happened!

The competitors

  • Jessie Graff
  • Meagan Martin
  • Jesse Labreck
  • Allyssa Beird
  • Sandy Zimmerman
  • Tiana Webberley
  • Mady Howard
  • Jeri D’Aurelio
  • Zhanique Lovett
  • Rachael Goldstein
  • Ashley McConville
  • Michelle Warnky Buurma

The format

The Women’s Championship consisted of three rounds of competition.

  • Round one: All 12 competitors ran a six-obstacle course. The top six (farthest the fastest) advanced to the next round.
  • Round two: The six competitors ran a 10 obstacle course. The top four advanced to the Power Tower.
  • Round three: Power Tower playoffs for $50,000!

Round one

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Off the Hook
  • Beehive
  • Burn Rubber
  • Sideways
  • Warped Wall

Ashley McConville: After hitting her first buzzer in season 12 Qualifiers, Ashley was ready for more. Her smooth run across Burn Rubber came to an end on Sideways.
Result: Out on Sideways

Sandy Zimmerman: Ninja Warrior is a family affair for the first mom to hit a buzzer, making it fitting that Sandy was competing on her 22nd wedding anniversary. While chatting with the women on the sideline, Sandy calmly handled the course to earn another buzzer.
Result: Complete

Michelle Warnky Buurma: As the second woman to defeat the Warped Wall and the second woman to complete a City Finals course, Michelle was the inspiration for many of these female competitors. The Ninja Warrior icon ended her run on Beehive.
Result: Out on Beehive

Tiana Webberley: Tiana was riding high after her first buzzer in the regular season and she was flying through the course. She tumbled off Burn Rubber and had a scary transfer on the end of Sideways. But Sweet T got it done and nabbed another buzzer!
Result: Complete

Jeri D’Aurelio: Jeri ended her run on Beehive.
Result: Out on Beehive

Mady Howard: Mady also joined the buzzer club in season 12 and she looked comfortable and confident on the course. She hit the buzzer with the fastest time to this point.
Result: Complete

Meagan Martin: Meagan was newly engaged when this special was recorded and her beaming fiancé was on the virtual sideline. She missed out on any buzzers in season 12, but dodged a repeat of her fall on Burn Rubber. Meagan cracked a smile on Sideways. She knew she had this in the bag. Meagan broke down in tears as she hit her first buzzer since season eight.
Result: Complete

Rachael Goldstein: The member of the Fantastic Four took a season away to become a mom. This run ended with a bad fall on Beehive.
Result: Out on Beehive

Allyssa Beird: Allyssa is still only the second woman to clear Stage One of the National Finals. She scored another buzzer in the Qualifiers of season 12, but this time around she was out on Sideways.
Result: Out on Sideways

Jessie Graff: Jessie worked on the latest Wonder Woman film as a stunt professional. The film’s director, Patty Jenkins, actually tuned in to be on her virtual sideline! If Jessie wanted to make a good impression on her boss, she knocked it out of the park when she hit the buzzer.
Result: Complete

Zhanique Lovett: Unfortunately, Zhanique joined the group of Ninjas who didn’t survive Beehive.
Result: Out on Beehive

Jesse Labreck: Jesse’s season 12 was pretty darn spectacular. She hit her sixth regular-season buzzer. She made the top eight, and she earned her second extended course buzzer. But Jesse had us terrified with this latest run. She looked nervous on Burn Rubber. Her strategy on Sideways was slightly off, leading her to actually fall on the last board. In a miraculous moment, she pitched herself towards the landing pad and the wall at the end of the obstacle spun her towards safety instead of the water. Using that rush of relief, Jesse sprinted up the Warped Wall to safety and success.
Result: Complete

With that, the six Ninjas who hit buzzers moved on to the extended course.

Leaderboard

  1. Jesse Labreck: 2:04.23
  2. Mady Howard: 2:12.02
  3. Tiana Webberley: 2:26.25
  4. Jessie Graff: 2:50.48
  5. Meagan Martin: 3:04.43
  6. Sandy Zimmerman: 3:07.62

Round Two

The course

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Off the Hook
  • Beehive
  • Burn Rubber
  • Sideways
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Corkscrew
  • The Dungeon
  • Spider Trap

Mady Howard: Mady is such a pro on the course that it’s easy to forget this is only her second season. Proving that point, she made it all the way to obstacle nine before her grip gave out.
Result: Out on The Dungeon

Sandy Zimmerman: We joined Sandy’s run just before she flexed her way up the Warped Wall. The Corkscrew tested her ability to hang on, but the exhaustion finally trapped her in The Dungeon.
Result: Out on The Dungeon

Jesse Labreck: Jesse wanted that prize money to make her pool dreams come true. After a much less scary journey across Sideways, Jesse dug into the back half. She was the first of the night to traverse The Dungeon. But what was left of her energy? The Spider Trap was a nail-biter for her and the viewers. She looked worried. She looked exhausted. It looked like her feet were sliding. But she was slowly making progress and moving those doors. It was bitter pill for all of us to swallow when she tumbled to the safety mat.
Result: Out on Spider Trap

Meagan Martin: Meagan was able to smile about her risky landing on Burn Rubber. That moment set the tone for the rest of her incredible run. Her rock climbing grip put Corkscrew behind her. In The Dungeon she looked... Great. Strong and confident! With her power on full display, she pumped her way up the Spider Trap and earned her first extended course buzzer.
Result: Complete

Tiana Webberley: Tiana made quick work of the Salmon Ladder and survived Corkscrew, which officially bumped Sandy out of the top four. She tried to make a beeline for the end of The Dungeon before her hands gave way, but she wasn’t quite able to make it there.
Result: Out on The Dungeon

Jessie Graff: This was probably the most shocking run of the night and not for great reasons. It looked like Jessie started second-guessing her hand placement on the middle slider of Sideways, causing her to sway in circles. That peeled her off the obstacle and sent Mady Howard to the final round.
Result: Out on Sideways

Leaderboard

  1. Meagan Martin: Complete
  2. Jesse Labreck: Spider Trap
  3. Tiana Webberley: The Dungeon
  4. Mady Howard: The Dungeon

Round three

Power Tower playoffs

  • Meagan Martin vs Mady Howard
  • Jesse Labreck vs Tiana Webberley

Meagan Martin vs Mady Howard

It was the veteran versus the young gun and experience paid off. After a close start, Meagan showed zero hesitation with any of her big moves, creating a lead. Mady stayed in the running, but Meagan had this win in the bag.

Winner: Meagan Martin

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Jesse Labreck vs Tiana Webberley

This was a battle! With no clear lead at the start and matching one another move for move, it could have gone either way. Jesse edged out the win in the end.

Winner: Jesse Labreck

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Championship match: Meagan Martin vs Jesse Labreck

With these two competitors and $50,000 on the line, we knew this was going to be good. But we didn’t know how good. Jesse had a strong lead heading up the steps. Her lead maintained as she traversed the Dropping Shelves. It looked like Jesse had it until Meagan once again trusted her big moves and started almost linking leaps. The result was Meagan coming from behind for the win, with both her and Jesse looking a bit bewildered about the outcome.

Your first-ever American Ninja Warrior Women’s Champion is Meagan Martin!

Meagan reflects on becoming the first Women’s Champion in an interview with us, here.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC