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American Ninja Warrior season 13 recap: The final night of Qualifiers

It was an emotional end to the first round of competition.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Welcome to the last night of Qualifiers for season 13 of American Ninja Warrior! The Qualifiers were an emotional start to the season and we closed out our time in the Tacoma Dome with another rollercoaster, including massive highs and some very shocking lows.

Ninjas like Jesse Labreck and Jamie Rahn were back, with the students they trained on the course beside them. We had our first father and son hit a buzzer. A cat casually watched his human win $10,000 on the Mega Wall. One Ninja showed us what spirit looks like when he refused to quit. The final run of the night had us gobsmacked and not in a good way.

Here we go!

The course:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Double Down
  • Split-Decision
  1. Log Runner
  2. Block Run
  • Tilt-A-Whirl
  • Sideways
  • Warped Wall/Mega Wall

Leif Sundberg: The last time Leif stepped up to the Tacoma Qualifying course in season 11, he plugged in a sub-one-minute completion. That’s FAST. Now, the Swedish Ninja is a new dad to a one-month-old son, Linus. But he still impressed everyone on the course. Leif fell on Log Runner. 99 times out of 100, the run ends there. But this must have been the hundredth time because Leif, with abs burning from hiking himself up over and over, somehow made his way to freedom. But what’s left in the tank after that? Enough to get through Tilt-A-Whirl with an unexpected backward dismount. This was one heck of a good show. Leif finally fell on Sideways, but that was a respectable performance.
Result: Out on Sideways

Megan Rowe: Megan has quite an intimidating hobby. She’s an ax thrower! Those arms gave her big cranks on Double Down. She did a good job with Log Runner and moved into Tilt-A-Whirl. Megan looked tired but focused. She made it to safety as the bar hit the water behind her. Megan was out on Sideways when her big leaps caused her feet to get in the way of her hands. But we loved this energetic run!
Result: Out on Sideways

Nick Woodard: The competitive jump roper was out on Double Down.

Sophia Oster: Donning a red dress, this Ninja made it to Block Run.

Abbey Steffl: Abbey is mom to daughter Molly and son Haven. Molly was born with a cleft lip that required multiple surgeries. At age five, she developed Alopecia. Haven is on the Autism spectrum. Both lovingly embrace themselves just as they are. That’s a huge testament to Abbey. Molly and Haven shouted for mom to take Log Runner, which she did. Abbey put up a good fight on Tilt-A-Whirl but fell on the third triangle.
Result: Out on Tilt-A-Whirl

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kourtney Timmons: His run ended on Double Down.

Arrielle Hall: Double Down also ended Arrielle’s run.

Tatsumi Yanaba: He developed his own peanut butter but his run was over on Double Down.

Flip Rodriguez: The 11-time Ninja Warrior veteran has mentored Cal Plohoros for years. Now, they’re on the show together! After grinding through Double Down, Flip trucked right along through Log Runner. On Tilt-A-Whirl, he was focused on avoiding any irreversible errors. Just as we thought to ourselves, “Flip might be going a little too fast on Sideways...” His grip slipped and he hit the water short of the buzzer.
Result: Out on Sideways

Cal Plohoros: Flip’s protegé, the 15-year-old Cal, was up next. We couldn’t even type fast enough to take decent notes on this run. He was like a jackrabbit out there. Cal leaped through Tilt-A-Whirl with a reverse dismount. He linked some of the moves on Sideways, making the grab that Flip missed. Cal was obviously going to be the first finisher. He missed his first Warped Wall attempt and quickly corrected that so he could call out Flip from the top of the Warped Wall.
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Nate Tackett: County music legend Crystal Gayle was on hand to cheer for her little cousin. Nate was out on Tilt-A-Whirl.

Taylor Amann: Taylor had two-time Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders on her sideline. Her run ended on Sideways.

Nathan Green: Nathan had a bet going with his twin brother, Marquez. Whoever did “worse” on the course would have their head shaved by their friend, Taylor Amann. It was a bold bet considering Marquez completed the course back in season 11 and had just made it to the fifth obstacle. Nathan picked the Log Runner and took a very cautious approach to Tilt-A-Whirl. With his brother cheering him on, Nathan arrived at Sideways and also fell there! It all came down to timing. Matt and Akbar revealed that Marquez had the faster time and Nathan got a breezy new haircut from Taylor.
Result: Out on Sideways

Marquez Green: In a quick view of his run, we saw Marquez clear Log Runner and fall on Sideways, but with a time that saved his locks.
Result: Out on Sideways

Miles Avery: The Olympic gymnastics coach fell early on Double Down while Olympian Danell Leyva watched.

Nick Hanson: Not THAT Nick (who was watching on the sidelines). This Nick put up a good run to Sideways.

Jackson Twait: On a somber note, Jackson shared that his beloved cat, Hades, had disappeared. Now he has Hashbrown in his life. Hashbrown looked on nonchalantly as Jackson sprinted through the course, taking on Log Runner and blazing through Tilt-A-Whirl. He was not stopping for rest at all. On pace for a top time, he grinned on Sideways, knowing he was safe. Jackson eyed the Mega Wall and with a massive leap, he got it! Hashbrown was still not impressed.
Result: Complete with Mega Wall

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Jamie Rahn: Jamie had a scary fall on Log Runner but bodysurfed to safety. He tried for the Mega Wall but completed the course, for the 20th buzzer of his career, on the Warped Wall.
Result: Complete

Sam Folsom: Sam, who trains with Jamie, had a near copy of his run, including the Log Runner, and a Mega Wall attempt.
Result: Complete

Maggie Owen: Maggie is 16-years-old and has trained with Jesse Labreck for years. The two are almost like family at this point. Maggie is just 5-feet-tall and 100lbs, but that didn’t stop her from powering through Double Down. She bravely chose Block Run and it barely moved beneath her. Things got dicey on Tilt-A-Whirl as she struggled to turn the second triangle. She made it to the third but fell shortly after as the bar slipped off the holder. Jesse came in quickly for the hug.
Result: Out on Tilt-A-Whirl

Jake Heaps: Jake is a former NFL quarterback and is now a QB coach for Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. But he didn’t make it through Double Down.
Result: Out on Double Down

Avery Glantz: This teen has Ninja obstacles built into the ceiling of her bedroom. But she tripped up on Log Runner.
Result: Out on Log Runner

Louis Apalucci: Louis decided to wear a cape on the course and quickly regretted that choice. The swaying motion on Double Dipper flipped the cape completely over his head. He had to go for a truly blind dismount. To be fair, he was close to making it, but ultimately, the cape ended his run.
Result: Out on Double Down

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Chris Behrends: Chris and Levi Enright call themselves the Ninja Teens although they are both 20 now. These two definitely have fun together and planned on double “noggin buzzers.” Chris took confident leaps on Tilt-A-Whirl and used the same strong approach to Sideways. He locked in a noggin buzzer at the top of the Warped Wall.
Result: Complete

Levi Enright: Levi missed out on his noggin buzzer when he fell hard on Log Runner.

Tyler Yamauchi: Tyler is a bit of a Ninja legend. He’s a former gymnast known as the “muscle ball.” His run was just shy of the top time to the buzzer.
Result: Complete

Chris DiGangi: The nine-time veteran had a shocking fall on Block Run that left his fiancé Jesse Labreck in tears.
Result: Out on Block Run

Kyle Schulze: The Deaf Ninja always inspires, but he hasn’t reached the buzzer yet in his career and it’s an emotional goal for him. Kyle is teaching Jessie Graff ASL and she was on his sideline to lend support. Kyle gutted through the jerks of Double Down and made his way safely across Log Runner. On Tilt-A-Whirl, it became very apparent then Kyle’s shoulder was causing him immense pain. He took a moment to mentally readjust before starting Sideways. Kyle was actually shouting in pain as he clung to the obstacle. He only made the middle slider with one hand and still managed to save himself. His grip finally slipped off on the next transition but this run will be historic for his display of mental fortitude. Kyle was devastated that the buzzer was still out of his reach, but by the end of the episode, he would make it to the Semifinals in 30th place.
Result: Out on Sideways

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Ming Zhang: The “muscle mama” was out on Double Down.

Logan Broadbent: The world champion boomerang thrower was out on Sideways.

Brian Beckstrand: With his distinctive mohawk, the father of five hit the buzzer. It was made even more special by the fact that his son, Kai would also run the course that night.
Result: Complete

Kai Beckstrand: This 15-year-old has Ninja in his blood. Both his dad and his mom, Holly, have been on the show. Kai was on seasons one and two of ANW Junior and has 40+ obstacles in his backyard. We were feeling pretty confident that he would follow his dad to the buzzer. Which is exactly what he did, although with a pretty incredible top time. Kai went straight to the top of the leaderboard with his non-stop run.
Result: Complete

Ava Colasanti: Ava, 16, fell on Tilt-A-Whirl, but landed in the women’s top 5.

Joe Brown: This track star can jump six feet high and proved it by leaping over Zuri Hall. But those hops didn’t snag him the Mega Wall. He settled with a Warped Wall buzzer.
Result: Complete

Jamie Ross: Jamie fell in the exact same place on Sideways that took out her boyfriend, Flip Rodriguez. She made the women’s leaderboard, though.
Result: Out on Sideways

Jesse Labreck: This was one of the most anticipated runs of the night. Jesse now has more buzzers than any other woman, including two buzzers on extended courses. With Olympic soccer medalist Brandi Chastain on the sidelines, Jesse started off her run. We squawked in terror when she stumbled on Log Runner but she skated to safety. Passing Tilt-A-Whirl guaranteed her a place in the Semifinals. But Jesse also nailed Sideways and brought home buzzer number seven.
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kyle Soderman: The former Bigfoot attempted the Mega Wall, but would have to save that accomplishment for another day.
Result: Complete

Hunter Guerard: He moved fast and had fun, completing the course less than two seconds behind his best friend, Kyle.
Result: Complete

Cam Baumgartner: Cam was all smiles as he hit the buzzer.
Result: Complete

Michael Torres: The context behind Michael’s run enhances the importance of the result. In season 12, Micheal raced through the course in order to make the Power Tower so he’d have a chance to bring his teammates into the next round. Those teammates were Jimmy Choi and Kyle Schulze. Michael lost that Power Tower race. This time, if Michael advanced, he would bump Kyle out of the top 30. Michael, a quick competitor, raced off. He plunged into Double Down with extra speed. In a terrifying moment, Michael let go of the bar a moment too early and it flipped him aggressively through the air, slamming him back-first into the side of the pool. There was a silent shock in the room. Michael was okay but very emotional about the result. His year was over
Result: Out on Double Down

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

As seen on Akbar’s Gbajabia-Moments:

  1. Trinni Bush: Out on Shrinking Steps
  2. Mike Silenzi: Complete
  3. Eric Middleton: Complete