The 30 Pittsburgh finalists took center stage in Monday evening's episode of American Ninja Warrior. Tough as the task was just to reach this phase, athletes were presented with even more obstacles this time around at the lengthened course.
With a trip to the Las Vegas finale on the line, where contestants battle for the $1 million grand prize, it was an interesting dynamic to witness. Here are the results, with the top 15 making it through to the City of Lights:
|American Ninja Warrior: Pittsburgh Finals Top 15|
|Top Ninja Finishers||Time||Obstacle Failed|
|Jamie Rahn||6:47.46||Invisible Ladder|
|Elet Hall||2:59.18||Doorknob Arch|
|Mike Meyers||3:53.84||Doorknob Arch|
|Sean Darling-Hammond||5:05.44||Doorknob Arch|
|Mike Bernardo||5:08.59||Doorknob Arch|
|Adam Mihm||4:17.45||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Brian Wilczewski||4:20.25||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Pavel Fesyuk||4:24.06||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Adam Grossman||4:29.42||Floating Monkey Bars|
|P.J. Granger||4:37.30||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Aaron Himelright||4:44.74||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Todd Mitchell||4:47.34||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Ron Schmidt||4:55.89||Floating Monkey Bars|
|Source: NBC broadcast|
Most couldn't expect to even finish the course, since the back half featured perilous pitfalls in the Salmon Ladder, Floating Monkey Bars, Doorknob Arch and Invisible Ladder. Only Geoff Britten and Joe Moravsky managed to get through the gauntlet in full, with Britten really stepping up from his 12th-place finish in qualifying.
Ninja veteran Mike Bernardo emerged with one of the better times after qualifying for the Pittsburgh finals near the middle of the pack in 17th place. Bernardo also had perhaps the best reaction to the news he'd be moving on to the next phase of the show:
Likable green-haired competitor Jamie Rahn was tantalizingly close to getting through the entire second half, getting all the way to the final 25-foot invisible ladder.
Rahn's hands reached near the top circle where athletes climbed through to slam the buzzer, but he couldn't quite make it. The crowd appreciated the valiant effort, and Rahn took to Twitter to discuss the magnificent run that landed him in Vegas:
One couldn't have been too surprised to see Moravsky tearing his way through the course, considering his strong Ninja track record:
When Moravsky was on the precipice of buzzer glory, though, the weatherman's forecast looked bleak for a moment when he lost his grip on one of the rings.
Instead of losing his composure so close to the finish line, Moravsky quickly gathered himself, put his feet through the circular opening and pulled himself through to ensure a spot among the best for Monday's episode.
Nicknamed "The Natural" for how easy he makes obstacle courses appear at times, No. 1 Pittsburgh qualifier Elet Hall was reserved for the evening's finale—and he had a rather shocking letdown.
Hall had a couple of tense moments on the back half of the course, missing a grab on the monkey bars before swinging past two of the rungs onto the safe landing area. Then on the last few doorknobs, fatigue got the better of Hall's forearms and he helplessly fell into the water.
Even with the disappointing conclusion, Hall still was among the top finalists and ought to be considered a favorite in the national finals with his combination of quickness and excellent strength-to-weight ratio.
The same can be said for Moravsky, who was second only to Hall in the city stage and was definitely the most consistent of all Ninja entrants through the first two phases. It will be interesting to see how Hall adjusts his tactics and whether Moravsky can keep his momentum going.
An immense improvement for Rahn as the slowest finishing qualifier from the city stage to where he got to Monday suggests he may be in for another big step forward in Vegas. Look for him as a dark horse to contend in what should be a fascinating finals showcase.
But before the finals begin, next week's action picks up in San Jose, where the military finals will send through another formidable batch to ultimately vie for the seven-figure grand prize.