Archive for the ‘Midwest Region’ Category

My Regional Finals Run, and a Note of Thanks

Friday, February 15th, 2013

It was a pleasant surprise to be one of the featured competitors in last week’s “Best of 2012 American Ninja Warrior” episode where they focused on the Midwest region. The TV guide episode description had actually been incorrect, so I thought it was going to be the Northeast region and not mine, so I didn’t have any advance notice to tell friends and family, but it was pretty cool to be featured all the same. They showed my full opening round run, and then a short section of my regional finals run, as well as a general background piece that focused on having to walkon last year to compete, me being a middle-aged dad with three cool boys who love Ninja Warrior, and my super-fan status (they even mentioned this blog!). I wanted to repost my blog below that I wrote after my Regional Finals run that summed up that attempt, as well as my general thoughts from competing last year. Hope you enjoy!

Originally Posted June 23, 2012
First off, let me say a huge THANK YOU to all my friends, family, and ninja brethren for the love and support they have given me this season.  I’m truly humbled by it, and deeply appreciate it.  I particularly want to thank so many of my fellow competitors for their encouragement this year as I struggled to get a spot to compete, for their efforts behind the scenes to try and wrangle production to give me a spot, and for their friendship before, during and after the experience.  You guys are awesome, and I feel much ninja love for you all!

As for my run in the Midwest regional finals, this statement sums it up:  “Different day, but the song remained the same.”  My run in the Midwest regional finals was almost the mirror image of my run in the opening round of the regionals.  In an earlier blog entry focusing on my opening regional round run, I went through each obstacle I encountered in the opening round of the regionals and described my thoughts and experience on each.  It serves as pretty much the same script for my regional final run.  Below are the summary thoughts of my run that night, the few ways that it was different, and the many ways it was the same.

One thing that interests people about everybody’s experience in the Midwest regional finals is that it basically didn’t start until about 2 am.  My run happened about 2:30 am.  Since I had finished 29th in the regionals, I was the 2nd runner of the regional finals (the top 30 in the regional finals run in reverse order of finish).  So we sat around for hours and hours, and then suddenly they were running the regional finals, and I was on deck as the second runner.  Very similar to my run in the opening round of the regionals where I was the 5th of about 150 runners that day.  Not complaining at all, just stating.

My experience with the first three obstalces – Quad Steps, Log Grip, and Bridge of Blades – was exactly the same of the previous round.  No problems, cruised right through, maybe a couple of seconds faster.

The fourth obstacle was the Jump Hang, and unlike the previous round I hesitated quite a bit before jumping on the mini-tramp.  I actually took a step forward, stopped, and stepped back to reload.  But when I finally jumped I hit it hard and flew up to the 2nd highest horizontal strand of the net again.  Unlike the regionals where I got hung up a bit going over the top, I popped right over this time quite quickly saving a few seconds and some energy.

The fifth obstacle, the infamous Curtain Slider, was the obstacle where I had probably the most different experience in the regional finals from the regionals.  Unlike the regionals where I almost failed in the transition from the first curtain to the second one by flapping my legs around threatening to hit the side and the water, I made a very smooth fast transition, twisting the opposite way with my body due to the swing of the curtain, and made a quick smooth transition to the third curtain and to the platform.

So finishing the Curtain Slider I stood at about 57 seconds, a good 7 seconds faster than the 1:04 it took me to get there in the regionals, mostly from time saved in the Jump Hang and the Curtain Slider I believe.

I was feeling pretty good and went at the Warped Wall right away without much of a pause, and came THIS CLOSE (imagine me holding two fingers two inches apart) from getting it on that first run.  I thought I had it.  But I didn’t.  LOL.  The second run was fairly close, but I fell backwards pretty hard when I missed and slammed my knee pretty good on the fall.  I hardly noticed it at the time due to the adrenaline, but I had a nasty deep bruise there for over a month afterwards.  The third attempt I honestly don’t remember much…I should have just taken my sweet time reloading energy for the attempt, but I remember thinking that I shouldn’t make the audience wait too long before I made my last attempt.  And I missed.

I was pretty despondent to fail at the Warped Wall in the regional finals because I knew my effort wasn’t going to hold up to advance to the national finals in Vegas.  I felt like if I could have gotten up that Warped Wall I would have advanced to Vegas, I’m pretty good at the Salmon Ladder and the Salmon Ladder in competition was not as hard as some of the other ones I’ve done before, and completing it would have locked in a spot to advance.  Failing where I failed landed me I think 20th in the field with only the top 15 advancing to the national finals.

But I can’t complain…I got my fair shot and was allowed to compete, which was not certain when I arrived at 4 am in the morning the day of the Midwest regionals to try and get a walkon spot, and in the end all I can really ask for is the opportunity to step to the line and give it my best.  That I did, and I ended up being the oldest competitor to advance to the Midwest regional finals, which was pretty cool, and I got to try my hand at the course twice between the regionals and regional finals, which is also pretty awesome.  Plus, they showed my run and did a nice little feature piece on me on G4 for the regionals and again on NBC for the regional finals, so that was cool, and my little boys were thrilled to see me and (mostly) themselves on TV.

As for whether I will be back to compete next season…of course I will!  Every year I get asked the same question, and my answer is always the same:  Why would I ever quit?  This shit is awesome!  Seriously, they will have to kick my withered old carcass off that course and tell me to never come back in order for me to give up.  I will be back next season, if they’ll have me, with some good Warped Wall practice under my belt, and will throw down the best I can on that course and see where the chips fall.  Thank you again for all your encouragement, this season was a special journey for me.

American Ninja Warrior 4 Compilation Season Schedule

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

The first episode of the “American Ninja Warrior 4 Compilation” series to air on NBC on Saturday nights from 8-9 pm Eastern will be a recap of “some of the best scenes” from the Southwest region. I assume this means both the opening regional round as well as the regional finals. This is in line with my expectations that of the 8 one-hour episodes of this “season”, the first 6 will be one-hour treatments of each region, and then the last 2 one-hour episodes will cover the National Finals in Las Vegas.

The February 9th episode will cover the Northeast region.

The February 16th episode will cover the Southeast Region. I don’t have visibility for later episodes. If you learn the schedule per the regions beyond that, please let me know and I will re-post it!

Airing Schedule
Feb 2nd – Southwest Region
Feb 9th – Northeast Region
Feb 16th – Southeast Region
Feb 23rd – ?
March 2nd – ?
March 9th – ?
March 16th – National Finals in Las Vegas
March 23rd – National Finals in Las Vegas

I’ll also say more broadly that the fact NBC is doing this compilation season is a great signal about their commitment to the franchise. This will build a bigger audience for the show in advance of American Ninja Warrior 5 to air the summer of 2013, and most likely is secondarily being done to drum up more competitors to compete in American Ninja Warrior 5 that is likely to go down in late March and April this year.

My Run in the Midwest Regional Finals on NBC – American Ninja Warrior 4

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

I finally got permission to publish my run and competitor profile that aired this summer on NBC in the Regional Finals of American Ninja Warrior 4. For those of you who missed it, I was the oldest competitor in the Midwest Region to advance to the Regional Finals where I got a nice feature piece of my run shown. As you can see, I just missed making it up the Warped Wall and probably progressing onto the National Finals in Las Vegas by an inch or two, and got called a ‘big old fatty’ a bunch of times by the commentators while doing it!

National Finalists in American Ninja Warrior 4

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Here is a list of the 90 national finalists in American Ninja Warrior 4 who advanced to Las Vegas to compete on the Mt. Midoriyama replica uber-course that was built there. There will be 10 wildcards added to these 90 competitors to make an even 100 runners, which is the traditional number that competed in the original Ninja Warrior Japan (Sasuke) for many years. The identity of these wildcards will be revealed when the show airs.

15 finalists from each of the 6 regions (listed below in order of finish) fought their way through their respective regional rounds and then the regional finals to advance to the first finals of American Ninja Warrior held in the US. Mad props to all these competitors, and hit LIKE to applaud them and share this list to spread the word of their awesomeness!

Southwest
Evan Dollard
Jesse La Flair
Kole Stevens
Remi Bakkar
Brent Steffenson
Chad Simpson
Derek Nakamoto
Dorian Cedars
Dan Mast
Paul Darnell
Sedderick Bassett
Ryan Thompson
Dylan Curry
Ronnie Shalvis Jr
Michael “Frosti” Zernow

Midwest
Matthew Derouen
Andrew Karsen
Jack Morgan
Stephen Volcko
Arthur Skov
Michael Silenzi
Nick ‘Lovin’ Stephforn
Johnathan Morin
Scott Robinson
Will Dodd
Joshua Grant
Andrew Lowes
Nate Aye
Nick Kostner
Cade Halada

Northeast
Tim Shieff
Luis Moco
Dan Galiczynski
Chris Wilczewski
Elet Hall
Travis Graves
Jesse Villareal
Christopher DiGangi
Andrew Wood
Danny Johnson
Bradley Smith Jr.
Phillip Pirollo
John Sapinoso
Matt Mings
Michael Pericoloso

Northwest
James McGrath
Travis Furlanic
David Campbell
Sean Noble
Kyle Cochrane
Justin Sweeney
Josh Horsley
Nathan Sausedo
Justin Walcker
J.B. Douglas
Kevan Reoli
Ben Snead
Brian Kretsch
Gunner Bahn
Patrick McGrath

Midsouth
Paul Kasemir
Brandon Douglass
Brian Arnold
Jaret Salas
Kevin Klein
Sat Khalsa
Ahmed Toure
Josh Lobeck
Lorin Ball
Jake Smith
Bob Pondrom
Nathaniel Spencer
James Wyatt
Tremayne Dortch
Alan Connealy

Southeast
David “Flip” Rodriguez
Drew Dreschel
Travis Rosen
Jared “J.J.” Woods
Michael Ekhert
Bull Bullard
Sean Morris
William Brown
Thomas Hall
Brendan Kelly
Andy Taylor
Adam Grossman
Niko Bogucki
Tony Reddick
Paul O’Connor

Almost Up the Warped Wall – Just a Couple of Inches Away

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Keep thinking about this moment in the Midwest regional finals where I was just a couple of inches away from getting up the Warped Wall in my first attempt and most likely advancing to the national finals in Vegas. My time was pretty fast and I historically have a very high clear rate on easy Salmon Ladders (3 rungs not too far apart classifies as “easy” compared to other setups), so I believe I would have advanced even if I had then fallen on the Globe Grasp. Proud of how I did, getting to compete at all as a walkon and then being the oldest competitor to advance to the regional finals in the Midwest, but this is the moment that I’ve already replayed in my mind about 1,000 times.

Just a couple of inches away

Just a couple of inches away...