American Ninja Warrior 2020: Results and Top Highlights from Episode 1

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2020

The St. Louis skyline is seen across the Mississippi River from East St. Louis, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005. Emergency responders and downtown leaders have asked St. Louis businesses to join a new voluntary network to better communicate in times of crisis. The group, known as the Downtown St. Louis Emergency Preparedness organization, has established a radio network linking businesses directly to St. Louis' police and fire departments. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)
JAMES A. FINLEY/Associated Press

Sports and sports-based competitions have been harder to come by this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but fans of obstacle courses rejoiced this week with the return of American Ninja Warrior.

Instead of touring different cities with fans sitting next to the course, ANW has created a one-stop shop for the Ninjas this year inside the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis.

Fans were not able to attend but runners were supported by their fellow competitors and video feeds of friends and family watching from home.

This will also be a shorter season with fewer episodes, fewer ninjas overall and a complete overhaul of the ranking process and final round. The first four episodes will serve as the qualifying rounds with 12 competitors advancing to the semifinal round beginning in Week 5. This means hitting a buzzer does not guarantee someone will move to the next round like it used to.

Instead of the non-guaranteed $1 million prize in past years, this season will have a guaranteed winner taking home $100,000.

A big theme with this year's show was featuring new ninjas who were sponsored by some of the all-star competitors from past seasons, so we saw a lot of new people in addition to several new obstacles.

The qualifying round included six new and modified obstacles for the contestants to overcome:

  • Shrinking Steps
  • Weight For It
  • Ring Chaser
  • Rib Run
  • Slingshot
  • Warped Wall

The 14.5-foot Warped Wall was one way to finish the course, but contestants also had the option to go for an 18-foot Mega Wall in an attempt to win $10,000.

The first competitor of the night was Robert Moffitt, a school teacher from Vermont who was sponsored by fan-favorite ninja and fellow educator, Allyssa Beird. He made it to the fourth obstacle before falling and hitting his midsection on the appropriately named Rib Run.

Former NFL linebacker Kamerion Wimbley returned for the first time since 2012 as part of Grant McCartney's team, which was appropriate since Grant's father, Ron McCartney, played for the Atlanta Falcons.

Wimbley, one of the biggest people to run the course on Monday, fell on Weight For It.

Ninja Warrior @ninjawarrior

One thing's for sure - there's no underestimating @gnarlyninjanate's drive to be the best! πŸ™Œ https://t.co/qamzbPJZvH

"Gnarly" Nate Hansen, who was born with a growth hormone deficiency that led to him being 5'2" tall, became the first competitor to hit the buzzer this week when he flew through the course at a blistering pace and ran right up the wall like it was nothing. He is one of the classic ANW success stories that prove willpower and skill is more important than size in this competition.

The first familiar competitor of the evening was Flip Rodriguez. The veteran ninja raced through the course at his usual quick pace but slowed down and took his time when it came to Slingshot. Unfortunately, he still fell and had to hope his fast time getting to the fifth obstacle was enough to advance to the next round.

Ninja Warrior @ninjawarrior

School is always in session when @allyssabeird is hitting the course! https://t.co/2dN18Ed3gC

Beird had her turn at the course about halfway through the show. She made sure to take her time as she tested each new obstacle before running up the wall to become the second ninja of the season to complete the qualifying course.

Ninja Warrior @ninjawarrior

When we say #JodyAvila came back bigger and better this season, we mean it! https://t.co/m5BsNYNwEB

Tyler Gillett, Mike Wright, Jon Alexis Jr., Julius Ferguson, McCartney and Jody Avila were the only other ninjas to complete the course, with Avila earning the fastest time with just under 1:45. Here is a rundown of all the ninjas who qualified during night one:

  • Jody Avila (Finished)
  • Tyler Gillett (Finished)
  • Nate Hansen (Finished)
  • Jon Alexis Jr. (Finished)
  • Julius Ferguson (Finished)
  • Mike Wright (Finished)
  • Grant McCartney (Finished)
  • Allyssa Beird (Finished)
  • Flip Rodriguez (Fell on obstacle five)
  • Jonathan Horton (Fell on obstacle five)
  • Ryan Lashoff (Fell on obstacle five)
  • Taylor Johnson (Fell on obstacle five)

Next week will see a few dozen other ninjas compete in the second night of qualifying runs. The 48 competitors who advance to the semifinals will begin running the 10-obstacle course in Week 5.

With all of the changes the show had to undergo this season, ANW did a great job keeping the wholesome vibe and supportive nature of the competition alive.

Who do you think will win this year's competition? Let me know on Twitter @BR_Doctor.


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