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American Ninja Warrior season 13 recap: Night three of Qualifiers

More buzzers! And more shocking eliminations.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Alright! American Ninja Warrior’s third night of Qualifiers brought us something we were craving. More buzzers! And even two Mega Wall buzzers from rookies. That doesn’t mean everything was all hunky-dory for all the competitors. Several veterans like Michelle Warnky Buurma, Nick Hanson, and Grant McCartney met the demise of their seasons.

Here’s how it all went down.

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Overpass
  • Split-Decision
  1. Spinning Log
  2. Domino Effect
  • Air Surfer
  • Pretzel Twist
  • Warped Wall/ Mega Wall

Hector Gomez: Hector’s alter-ego is the self-loving wrestling personality of Hector Perfecto. He made a perfect save after a slide on Domino Effect and showed off the brand new Air Surfer. He also showed us how challenging it will be when he missed a transfer.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

KC Boutiette: The 50-year-old speed skater has represented the US in four Olympic winter games. Bonnie Blair, who has earned five gold medals in speed skating, was on the sideline to cheer KC on. After a strong start to his run, KC had a nerve-wracking trip through Air Surfer and moved to the new Pretzel Twist. This thing forces Ninjas to take so many awkward twists, grabs, and turns. When KC had trouble twisting the second pretzel off the hook, he was out.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Zach DiPaolo: The professional motocross rider roared to the startline but hit the wall on Overpass.

Rochambeau Dolcine: After an epic save on Domino Effect, he ended his run on Air Surfer.

Megan Budway: Megan is an elementary school music teacher and a trained opera singer. She made an impressive catch on Overpass and put up a strong run until Air Surfer.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Brandon Mears: This one had us emotional. The nine-time veteran has a painful history with balance obstacles that we don’t even want to talk about. Once he reached Split-Decision, Brandon opted for the Spinning Log. We can’t repeat the actual words that popped out of our mouths as he hit the water. In the pool, a very emotional Brandon questioned whether it was time for him to close the book on his Ninja career.
Result: Out on Spinning Log

David Daniels: The family medicine doctor ended his run on Domino Effect.

Cara Mack: Cara is the founder of the Ninjababes Podcast. She made it through Domino Effect but fell on Air Surfer.

Bob Reese: Bob has made a name for himself with his fun parkour “fail” videos. But his run to the Pretzel Twist isn’t in that category.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Owen Dyer: The 16-year-old Owen wore a flamingo hat to show off his personality. But don’t let it distract you from his skills. He basically sprinted to Air Surfer and had a clean run through that. He showed everyone a textbook trip through Pretzel Twist and faced the Warped Wall. His little brother was screaming with excitement. Owen missed one attempt at the wall but still reached his first buzzer.
Result: Complete

Kristine Karlson: The US postal carrier was out on Overpass.

Landon Nagao: Landon is a Marine Corps pilot. He saved a Domino Effect stumble and his run ended on Air Surfer.

Alyssa Varsalona: Alyssa went out on the fifth obstacle a few seasons ago. Since then, her husband has gotten in on the Ninja game and they wanted to find out who would go farther on the course. Alyssa’s work has paid off. She made a perfect grab on Overpass. After five knee surgeries, she still braved the Domino Effect. Alyssa worked slowly on Air Surfer, making it through a few risky landings. She peeled off the first Pretzel Twist to end her solid run.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Cole Rives: Alyssa’s husband closed out their friendly competition when he fell on Overpass.

Ben Whitlow: The frog gigger fell on Pretzel Twist.

Brad Giles: Brad is the CEO of a healthcare business along with his wife. Their company provides home health services for kids with special needs. On the course, Brad had a strong run across the Dominos and handled Air Surfer confidently. He made it to the Pretzel Twist and fell while trying to navigate the transfer to the second pretzel.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Michelle Warnky Buurma: The beloved veteran fell unexpectedly on Domino Effect.

Elena Borges: Elena, who is 17, made a very cool save on Domino Effect, but she couldn’t escape to the landing pad.
Result: Out on Domino Effect

Bootie Cothran: Bootie opted for the Spinning Log, but he didn’t stand a chance when he twisted his ankle just as he started the obstacle.
Result: Out on Spinning Log

Austin Hair: The former professional wakeboarder got into Ninja along with his wife, Lisa. Lisa has Ankylosing Spondylitis, a very painful form of arthritis in the spine. Her drive inspired Austin’s training and his run. That inspiration ran deep as Austin took it all the way to the buzzer, becoming the second finisher of the night.
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Vinny Tapia: Vinny had a massive heart attack just four months before his run in 2019. This season, he was out on Overpass.
Result: Out on Overpass

Heather Weissinger: Heather’s medical specialty is implanting pacemakers. She’s in a relationship with fellow Ninja Dan Polizzi, who was right there to cheer her on. Heather made it to Air Surfer.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Dan Polizzi: Up next, Dan went with Domino Effect and faired better than his friend, Brandon. He made short work of the course and even tried for the Mega Wall. That was a no-go, but Dan was into the Semifinals with a buzzer to boot.
Result: Complete

Bryce Buckland: Bryce lost his dad in June of 2020 to leukemia. The two loved Cheap Trick and Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander from the band sent in a video message of support to start Bryce’s run. Visibly emotional, Bryce focused on the obstacles. His run almost ended on Air Surfer with a very close catch. Wait a second... His run did end on Air Surfer after the next catch wasn’t so lucky.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Michael Johnson: Michael skated across Domino Effect. He fell on Air Surfer when his foot somehow got in the way and prevented his landing.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Kevin Carbone: The obstacle creator handled the course easily. Kevin tried the Mega Wall and still ended up with a strong time at the Warped Wall buzzer.
Result: Complete

Tyler Gillett: Tyler usually is pretty quick. This time, he slowed it down and looked relaxed. He was saving energy for the Mega Wall but it was no dice on that goal. He still hit a buzzer, though.
Result: Complete

Brett Hernandez Strong: Brett is a 19-year-old rookie who came out swinging. We all were set back on our heels as he tore through the course. Completing Air Surfer moved him into the Semifinals. Unlocking all the turns of Pretzel Twist had Matt asking where this guy came from. Hitting the Mega Wall left all our jaws on the floor. Welcome to the game, Brett!
Result: Complete with Mega Wall

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Devin Harrelson: Dougie Fresh took his traditional starting line selfie and then lit up his shoes. He was out on Pretzel Twist but was into the Semifinals.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Max Feinberg: The 16-year-old is a member of his school’s marching band. Max’s mom is going through breast cancer and he dedicated his run, and his buzzer, to her.
Result: Complete

Charity LeBlanc: Charity is a social media star thanks to her mermaid and beauty videos. Now, she’s in the process of moving her whole family to a sailboat to complete that mermaid life. This was Charity’s third time on the show and she wanted a shot at the next round. Crossing Domino Effect solidified that dream. When Charity took an early dismount from Air Surfer, she nearly missed the landing pad. In fact, her toes were inches away from grazing the water. She hauled herself to safety but succumbed to the trampoline leading to the Pretzel Twist.
Result: Out on Pretzel Twist

Amir Malik: Amir was the top rookie of season 12. He blazed through the course to kick off season 13.
Result: Complete

R.J. Roman: R.J. shredded the course like usual for him. He tried the Mega Wall with no luck but still set the current top time with his Warped Wall buzzer.
Result: Complete

Grant McCartney: Grant has been up to more extreme antics with his buddy, Nick Hanson, including a terrifying swim under the ice in Alaska. Grant looked calm on the course but overshot a jump on Air Surfer, leading to one of his earliest falls in a Qualifier. In the 28th position on the leaderboard, advancing looked unlikely for him.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Nick Hanson: Nick Hanson is now engaged to his longtime partner, Joanne. Nick’s ice hopping training was helpful on Domino Effect. However, he then made the same exact mistake as Grant on Air Surfer, putting his season in serious jeopardy as well. But the two had a good laugh about it on the sidelines.
Result: Out on Air Surfer

Enzo DeFerrari Wilson: Enzo is technically the youngest competitor ever as he had recently turned 15. He bounced through the course to an emotional finish on the Warped Wall.
Result: Complete

Brett Sims: Brett, a 10-time veteran of the show, showed the power of experience when he totally handled the course. After a Mega Wall attempt, he completed the Warped Wall for his fifth Qualifier in a row.
Result: Complete

Vance Walker: The last athlete of the night came out with quite the pedigree. Vance, 16, is a 2-time ANW Junior champion. Almost all the veterans were on hand to vouch for his skills. He started participating in Ninja competitions at just 10 years old. As a child, he had to wear leg braces due to a form of cerebral palsy. But this course was his playground. Zipping to Pretzel Twist, Akbar wondered aloud if Vance would take the Mega Wall. And this guy answered in the positive while he was maneuvering an obstacle. He backed it up too. Vance is now the shortest and youngest Ninja ever to complete the Mega Wall.
Result: Complete with Mega Wall

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

As seen on Akbar’s Gbajabia-moments

  • Josh Wagg: Out on Pretzel Twist
  • Jessica Helmer: Out on Overpass
  • Tony Miles: Out on Pretzel Twist