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American Ninja Warrior season 13 recap: The last night of the National Finals

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We cover Stage Two, Stage Three, and yup, Stage Four.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

We have arrived. It’s the season 13 American Ninja Warrior finale and all questions will be answered. Almost 400 competitors started. 35 of those were teens. 19 Ninja remain, and seven are under 18. The teens have lived up to every bit of the hype they started the year with.

This is a long recap because we cover Stage Two, Stage Three, and yes, Stage Four. Read on.


STAGE TWO

The course:

Isaiah Thomas: Flyboy needed to slow things down just a little when he was uneven twice on the Double Salmon Ladder. Then Isaiah was back to his explosive self on V Formation. Using just his arms to grab on, he mastered the Hammer Drop. Isaiah looked strong as he dove into the Epic Air Surfer, but he missed the first transfer, a simple miscalculation.
Result: Out on Epic Air Surfer

Adam Rayl: Adam scared us with his aggressive approach to the Double Salmon Ladder that almost knocked the bar off. After confidently moving through V Formation, Adam gave Hammer Drop a full-body hug and kept right on moving, not wanting to risk the running clock like on Stage One. Strong moves on the Epic Air Surfer put Adam at the Falling Shelves. Sean Bryan urged him to get going from the sidelines as the clock dropped to about 30 seconds. Adam looked like he could make it until that blind grab happened. His mom was devastated as his season ended.
Result: Out on Falling Shelves

Sean Bryan: Sean had the same strong performance as his roommate Adam. And the same exact exit on the Falling Shelves. Get ready. This is going to be a theme.
Result: Out on Falling Shelves

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Enzo DeFerrari Wilson: Enzo is the youngest American Ninja Warrior competitor ever and he’s starting off his career right. With quick and sharp moves, he got to work on Stage Two. Enzo looked light but powerful on V Formation until he suddenly peeled off into the water. With his supportive family by his side, Enzo headed home.
Result: Out on V Formation

Tyler Yamauchi: Tyler is having one of his best seasons with three buzzers under his belt. However, he never got a grip on Hammer Drop and splashed down there.
Result: Out on Hammer Drop

Brian Burkhardt: Brian went out on the Double Salmon Ladder but with his Safety Pass, we’d see him again.
Result: Out on Double Salmon Ladder

Austin Gray: Season 12’s runner-up is off the market! With his girlfriend Jaelyn on the sidelines, Austin navigated Stage Two. He had no issues whatsoever through Hammer Drop. Austin was through Epic Air Surfer with plenty of time to spare. With over a minute left on the clock, he took a calming breath before the Falling Shelves. Austin nailed the final blind grab and hit the buzzer! He would keep his Safety Pass this season.
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Jonathan Godbout: Hammer Drop ended Jonathan’s season. But he’s still going home with three buzzers.
Result: Out on Hammer Drop

Josiah Pippel: We caught up with Josiah on Epic Air Surfer. He reached the Falling Shelves and we knew it was all about that final grab. Josiah built his momentum and went for it. But he wasn’t able to grip.
Result: Out on Falling Shelves

Joe Moravsky: Shocking. That’s all we can say about Joe’s run. After a stunning Safety Pass run with food poisoning on Stage One, Joe went out on the very first obstacle of Stage Two. A replay showed that as Joe ran down the Striding Steps, he began to lean to the right and was off-center for the rope grab.
Result: Out on Striding Steps

Matt Bradley: Matt was out on Hammer Drop.

Isaiah Wakeham: Isaiah fell from the Double Salmon Ladder.

Ryan Meeks: Ryan, the oldest remaining Ninja at 39, closed things out on Epic Air Surfer.

Kyle Soderman: Kyle used his parents’ landscaping company as a Ninja Warrior training ground in the past. He’s now a stuntman and he was in fine form on Stage Two. Kyle moved quickly, conserving energy. After a good clutch on Hammer Drop, Kyle leaped quickly from pad to pad on Epic Air Surfer. The real question was could he handle the grab on the Falling Shelves? The answer was that he could. With six seconds left on the clock, he hit the buzzer.
Result: Complete

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Mike Silenzi: “The Stallion” took a ride on Hammer Drop, but time was short on the Falling Shelves. It was THAT grab that ended his season.
Result: Out on Falling Shelves

Kai Beckstrand: The 15-year-old ended his incredible season on the Striding Steps.

Jake Murray: Jake has been fast all season long but he hasn't beaten Stage Two in his Ninja Warrior career. Jake hung on tight for Hammer Drop and was perfect on Epic Air Surfer. But... WHAT ABOUT THE GRAB? It also stumped Jake, who was upset after his run. He showed a rare moment of emotion as he shared he might re-evaluate his Ninja career.
Result: Out on Falling Shelves

Brian Burkhardt: Brian made it past the Double Salmon Ladder on his Safety Pass run, but he slipped off the end of the Epic Air Surfer.
Result: Out on Epic Air Surfer

Jesse Labreck: It’s been four years since we’ve seen a woman on Stage Two. After hitting the buzzer on Stage One, Jesse topped things off with a Stage Two debut. She made the same error as Vance Walker’s first run and overshot the open top of the Double Salmon Ladder. She’s had a fantastic year but still whispered, ”I know I could have done better than that,” after her run.
Result: Out on Double Salmon Ladder

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kaden Lebsack: The final Stage Two runner was 15-year-old Kaden. He put up huge moves on the Double Salmon Ladder and gave Hammer Down a nice bear hug. Kaden barely paused between jumps on the Epic Air Surfer, but we knew it was all about that Falling Shelves move. Which he landed. With 28 seconds left on the clock, and looking shocked himself, Kaden was through to Stage Three.
Result: Complete

Four competitors were off to Stage Three!


STAGE THREE

There is no time limit at this stage. The goal is to make it to the end and move to Stage Four, or go that farthest the faster to become the Last Ninja Standing. The completion times on Stage Two determined the run order.

The course:

  • Grip and Tip
  • Stalactites
  • Up For Grabs
  • Ultimate Cliffhanger
  • Pipe Dream
  • Eyeglass Alley
  • Flying Bars

Vance Walker: The veterans were watching VERY carefully as the young rookie got to work. After grinding through Grip and Tip, we got a look at the tricky Stalactites. Ninjas have to carefully place handles in free spinning, swaying “stalactites.” After a little trouble on one of the moves, Vance recovered and moved to Up For Grabs. That honestly looked like a nice break that allowed Vance to laché strongly.

After a perfect trip on the iconic Ultimate Cliffhanger, Vance carefully balanced on the tipping wall that marked the entrance to Pipe Dreams. The series of pipes change in width, spacing, and some drop once the weight is on them. Vance began sliding on the dropping pipes and used his lower body to straddle the distances. This brought him safely to Eyeglass Alley. Each bar has a ring on either end and the competitors must “walk” the bars across the hooks. Vance was making moves, but Stage Three was taking its toll. His incredible year came to an end when he fell near the end of the obstacle. Could he be the Last Ninja Standing?
Result: Out on Eyeglass Alley

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kyle Soderman: Grip and Tip was a draining start to Kyle’s run. But his time on the Stalactites was smooth as butter. Kyle saved moves on Up For Grabs. At the Ultimate Cliffhanger, he was again moving quickly. As he reached to make an upward transition, his grip slipped off. His buddies jumped into the pool to celebrate a thrilling season.
Result: Out on Ultimate Cliffhanger

Austin Gray: Austin made an impressive move on the Stalactites. As one hold spun out of control, Austin held a lock off, kept his cool, and smoothly placed the handle. Up For Grabs again seemed easy for these competitors. After carefully adjusting his grip on the Ultimate Cliff Hanger, Austin put that obstacle behind him. He faced a small hiccup when the wall to Pipe Dream tipped back, meaning he had to tip it forward and stand up. Next, he smartly navigated the pipes and finished the obstacle ahead of Vance’s time, putting Austin in the Last Ninja Standing position. Austin looked tired now, even closing his eyes for a moment before starting Eyeglass Alley. After a diligent fight to the last ounce of his strength, Austin ended his run there. He said it best as he climbed from the pool, “Pumped. Tired. Proud. Honored.”
Result: Out on Eyeglass Alley

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kaden Lebsack: Last, we saw 15-year-old Kaden on Stage Three. This was his whole family’s dream come true. Kaden was extremely precise on the Stalactites. Up For Grabs seemed like nothing for Kaden. The Ultimate Cliffhanger breezed past in the same way. This run didn’t even seem stressful for the young competitor as he frolicked through Pipe Dream. This set a new time and made Kaden the official Last Ninja Standing, but how far could he take this? Kaden stared down Eyeglass Alley and dove into the work. Methodical move after methodical move, he defeated the obstacle. With a satisfying thump from every leap, Kaden dominated the Flying Bar. Jaws on the ground, we witnessed a 15-year-old clear Stage Three and move to Stage Four alone.
Result: Complete


STAGE FOUR

The course:

  • 75-foot rope climb
  • Time limit: 30 seconds

With his mom absolutely beaming with pride, Kaden said, “I think I’m dreaming” before the iconic rope climb began. We were still in shock we were watching such a young rookie on this stage. But the pressure was intense.

As the buzzer sounded, Kaden lurched upward, climbing with just his arms while his feet dangled. It became apparent very quickly that this strategy wouldn’t work. Halfway up the rope with only 13 seconds left, we knew this wasn’t going to be a close call.

But Kaden should be beyond proud of himself. He walked away with the $100,000 Last Ninja Standing prize, and bragging rights that many veterans will never experience.
Result: Timed out

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Kaden Lebsack is the season 13 American Ninja Warrior Last Ninja Standing. We’ll see you back here for season 14 of American Ninja Warrior!