The last of the six regions in this year’s American Ninja Warrior, the Southeast, is finally on deck to be shown this Sunday on G4 and Monday on NBC. The Southeast region was filmed in Miami along with the Northeast region, and has a tough lineup with a number of veteran competitors who will be gunning for the top spot, and could very well be the most experienced overall region with four of the ten returning finalists from American Ninja Warrior 3 that went to compete in Japan.
Ryan Stratis – It’s safe to say that Ryan is one of the superstars of American Ninja Warrior, and has competed in and been shown in every competition. He’s improved every season and made it all the way to the third stage in Japan in ANW3, and his intensity and symbolism as a member of our armed services make him a favorite with both fans and competitors. A buddy of mine since ANW2, he’s one of the guys I root hardest for, and a true threat to win it all.
Travis Rosen – Another returning finalist from Japan in ANW3 where he fell in Stage 2, Travis is an incredibly trained and gifted athlete who was an All-American gymnast at the University of Iowa once-upon-a-time. Travis and I bonded entering ANW2, both of our first seasons, as fellow middle-aged dads who felt compelled to compete. When we first became buddies I had NO IDEA he was as sick as he is…Travis could truly be the first American Ninja Warrior and is another guy that I root hard for every year.
David “Young Flip” Rodriguez – Young Flip burst onto the scene last year not only as another finalist in ANW3 who made it all the way to Japan (where he fell in Stage 2), but also as a competitor in the awesome parkour/freerunning show Jump City: Seattle where he competed for Miami Freerunning. Young Flip is a very agile strong competitor with great conditioning and confidence in his abilities. He’s famous for his use of a mask when he competes which he says helps him focus. I don’t know him well, but he’s a good guy and a threat to go deep in this year’s competition.
Drew Drechsel – Drew is yet another returning finalist from ANW3 (making 4 of 10 in the Southeast region) where he painfully blew out his knee landing from the rope in the Half-Pipe Attack in Stage 1 in Japan. Drew is a young guy with incredible strength and coordination who should be back strong this year from his injury, and I fully expect him to be among one of the last guys standing in this competition.
Other Seasoned Vets – From earlier seasons we have two more returning vets from Japan in Brett Sims and Patric Cusic, as well as Thomas Hall (Boot Camp from ANW2) and Sean Morris (two-time semi-finalist). All of these guys are seasoned competitors, and experience shouldn’t be overlooked as a differentiating factor in a field of strong competitors.
NFL Football Player Kamerion Wimbley – Kamerion Wimbley, a professional football player who plays defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, competed in the Southeast. At 6’5″ and 255 lbs, that’s a big man on the course. Some people are dismissing his chances for being that large, but that’s only an inch taller and 35 lbs more than me, and I KNOW he’s much younger stronger faster than I am, and I just missed making the national finals, so my money is on him to shock some people. Having recently signed a $30 million contract with the Titans, the $500k prize doesn’t represent much motivation, but I hear he’s a true fan of the show so I wish him well.
Newcomer Alert – I’ve heard great things about Jared JJ Woods, Young Flip’s training partner in Miami, and am looking forward to seeing how he does.
Sorry for the many deserving athletes that didn’t get profiled here. Do something amazing and make me profile you next year!