American Ninja Warrior turned the compass south for Monday night's episode. After last week's Kansas City finals, the show moved to Houston as 15 more athletes clinched a ticket to Las Vegas for a shot at Mount Midoriyama.
Below, you can see those who qualified:
|Houston City Finals—Top 15 Finishers|
|3||Daniel Gil||2:43.39||Crazy Cliffhanger|
|4||Karsten Williams||4:43.31||Crazy Cliffhanger|
|5||Tremayne Dortch||5:39.16||Crazy Cliffhanger|
|6||Thomas Stillings||2:32.97||Walking Bar|
|7||Geoff Lancaster||2:48.28||Walking Bar|
|8||Brent Steffensen||2:51.02||Walking Bar|
|9||David Yarter||3:12.48||Walking Bar|
|10||Dillon Gates||3:27.80||Walking Bar|
|11||Kevin Klein||3:51.73||Walking Bar|
|12||Abel Gonzalez||4:32.37||Walking Bar|
|13||Joe Calderon||5:12.87||Walking Bar|
|14||Anthony Scott||6:03.94||Walking Bar|
|15||Jonathan Parr||6:21.12||Walking Bar|
|Source: NBC broadcast|
The organizers of American Ninja Warrior continue devising new ways to push competitors to their physical limits. On Monday's episode, the show introduced the "Walking Bar," which somewhat resembles the "Salmon Ladder."
On the Salmon Ladder, athletes grab onto a bar and use their arms to propel upward. On the Walking Bar, they hold onto a bar as they use their arms and upper body to move horizontally across small staggered shelves. You can see the obstacle below courtesy of the show's Twitter feed:
The Walking Bar proved to be by far the toughest obstacle on the night—the fact that this was its debut increasing its difficulty. No Warriors had seen the Walking Bar before, so they had no idea what sort of strategies would and would not work.
Jonathan Horton, who competed on Houston's show, likely isn't alone in his feelings toward the Walking Bar:
Tremayne Dortch was the first to conquer the Walking Bar, but he ultimately failed on the next obstacle, the "Crazy Cliffhanger." Still, as the Houston Chronicle's Maggie Gordon noted, Dortch did enough to move on to the next stage:
Jeremiah Morgan passed the Walking Bar with flying colors but looked to be running into trouble on the Crazy Cliffhanger. He managed to hold on and complete that obstacle. Then, he wasted little time climbing up the "Invisible Ladder."
When you're the first athlete to complete an American Ninja Warrior course, you can treat the buzzer like a drum set:
Morgan also caught the attention of Brianne McLaughlin, a two-time silver medalist in women's ice hockey at the Winter Olympics:
Karsten Williams and Daniel Gil both completed the Walking Bar but endured the same fate as Dortch. Williams and Gil nearly traversed the Crazy Cliffhanger, only to slip up when they needed to transfer from the left track to the right.
Gil earned extra plaudits since this was the first year he ever competed on American Ninja Warrior. Fellow Warrior Brent Steffensen praised his work on the course:
No matter how he performs in Las Vegas, Gil has set himself up for future success on the show with the experience he gained in Houston.
Monday's show closed out with Sam Sann, who's not only a great athlete himself, but a fantastic trainer. Seven of the 30 Houston finalists worked out under the tutelage of Sann before appearing on American Ninja Warrior.
The 48-year-old led by example, becoming just the second person to reach the final buzzer. The ease with which he made it up the Invisible Ladder was astounding:
Sann will be one of the sentimental favorites in Vegas.
Three more city finals remain until the show heads to Sin City to see if anybody can tackle Mount Midoriyama and win the $1 million prize.
Given how few athletes made it across Houston's course, it must be an intimidating thought knowing things will only get tougher from here.