Qualifying Episode 2
S1 episode 2 Aired on March 8, 2018

By Nikki Lee

American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs Ninja’s second episode continued the blazing pace that was set up by the premiere. Some fan-favorite competitors, like Jesse Labreck, Tyler Yamauchi, Lance Pekus, and Ben Melick had to grit their teeth and fight through some tough battles.

TL: DR: Dark Horse and Midwest Muscle went point for point, driving each other through a full five races. In the end, Lance Pekus and his team, Dark Horse, prevailed as the winners. Jesse Labreck’s Labreckfast Club made quick work of Team Tarzan, sweeping them out of the competition. In three nail-biting races, the Labreckfast Club swept the points again, putting Dark Horse out to pasture and winning six heats in a row!

The match-ups:

Dark Horse vs Midwest Muscle
Labreckfast Club vs Team Tarzan

The obstacles:

Sonic Swing
Tick Tock
Pole Grasper
Floating Tiles
Spin Cycle
Warped Wall
Salmon Ladder
Rumbling Dice
Zig Zag Climb

You can find more information on the rules of Ninja vs Ninja here. It follows a best-of-five, single elimination format. The last team standing moves on to the playoffs.


Dark Horse

Lance Pekus
Tammy McClure
Karson Voiles

Midwest Muscle

Tyler Yamauchi
Kirsti Pratt
Ethan Swanson
Heat one:

Karson Voiles vs Ethan Swanson

Ethan slipped low on the Pole Grasper, slowing his momentum. This allowed Karson to build a strong lead that never closed. He was uncontested as he hit the buzzer.

Point = Dark Horse

Heat two:

Tammy McClure vs Kirsti Pratt

Kirsti was out in the lead as soon as the heat started, but she didn’t have to push herself for too long. Tammy fell on Tick Tock, ending the race. But Kirsti kept going. She wanted to finish that Warped Wall, and she did!

Point = Midwest Muscle

Heat three:

Lance Pekus vs Tyler Yamauchi

The two Ninjas were tied right up until the Pole Grasper. Here, Lance’s height and reach put him at an advantage. He tripped on the Floating Tiles, but still had enough space to recover. Tyler was had just reached the Spin Cycle as Lance was leaving the same obstacles. The Wall gave him no trouble, sending the teams on to the relays.

Point = Dark Horse

Heat four - RELAY:

Midwest Muscle had to win this to stay in the game. Tammy and Kirsti handled the first two obstacles, while Karson and Tyler were on the middle section. Lance and Ethan planned to handle the final leg.

Kirsti was smoother from the start, tagging in Tyler first. Tammy had a troubled dismount from the Tick Tock again but recovered it this time. Tyler brought in Ethan, but Lance was hot on his heels. It was incredibly close, but the win went to Ethan.

Point = Midwest Muscle

Heat five - RELAY:

The teams were 2-2 now. They opted for the same run order as before.

This time, it was Kirsti who struggled with the Tick Tock, missing her first chance to leap from it. Tammy had pinpointed her errors and made it through without trouble this time, bringing in Karson. He made short work of the Poles and Tiles, setting Lance off running. Tyler did all he could to make up time, but Lance was already staring down the Warped Wall. Ethan tried a go-for-broke move by skipping the second hoop on Spin Cycle and ended up in the water.

Point = Dark Horse

Dark Horse WINS

Midwest Muscle is OUT


Labreckfast Club

Jesse Labreck
Jon Alexis Jr.
Chris DiGangi

Team Tarzan

Ben Melick
Emmi Rose
Travis Weinand

Heat one:

Chris DiGangi vs Travis Weinand

The Ninjas were close to one another after Tick Tock, but Chris got the dismount off the Pole grasper first. He was on the Spin Cycle by himself, but Travis used his impressive wingspan to tie things up. However, Travis stumbled slightly on his exit, giving Chris just enough space to clear the Warped Wall.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Heat two:

Jesse Labreck vs Emmi Rose
Jesse is undefeated in these head to head match-ups and was looking confident through the first obstacles. She continuously widened the gap between her and Emmi. Emmi then got herself stuck on the Tick Tock, never taking the first leap, and losing momentum in the pendulum. She languished there while Jesse completed the entire course.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Heat three:

Jon Alexis Jr. vs Ben Melick

Jon had quite the height advanced going into this one, but he wouldn’t need to put it to the test. The pressure of Jon’s intimidating speed pushed Ben just a little too far. He went out on the Pole Grasper. Jon finished the course solo.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Labreckfast Club WINS

Team Tarzan is OUT


Dark Horse vs Labreckfast Club

Round three takes place on the extended course of nine obstacles, adding in the Salmon Ladder, Rumbling Dice, and the Zig Zag Climb.

Heat One:

Karson Voiles vs Chris DiGangi

Chris took a slight lead at the start, but things were even by Tick Tock. Karson used a big leap to get deep into the Poles, allowing him to quickly head off to the Floating Tiles. When Chris got to Spin Cycle, Karson was already up the Warped Wall.

But the back portion of the course can be a slog, slowing down the best of competitors. Chris had the time to almost catch up to Karson. Karson did reach the Zig Zag Climb first, but Chris was right there as well. You could see the struggle and exhaustion on their faces as they were just inches apart. In a heartbreaking moment, Karson threw himself on to the finishing platform first but didn’t see the buzzer. Chris launched himself up behind Karson and slammed the buzzer, snagging the win.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Heat Two:

Tammy McClure vs Jesse Labreck

The Ninjas were close together at the start. Jesse barely got off the poles before Tammy, but she shot across the Tiles and headed for the Spin Cycle. Tammy’s pace was slowing a bit, but she was still in the game. Jesse bolted up the Wall and started the Salmon Ladder.

Tammy hadn’t completed the Wall before in the competition, but her adrenaline got her to the top! Jesse was diligently working on the extended obstacles and completed the Rumbling Dice. When Tammy fell from the Salmon Ladder, Jesse stopped, opting to not do the Zig Zag Climb.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Heat three:

Lance Pekus vs Jon Alexis Jr.

Lance knew he had to save his team and it showed in his driving run. He and Jon were so close other they looked like twins heading into the Poles Grasper. Both wanted every advantage, leading to a struggle over one pole. Jon was able to take the lead and break for the Wall. But that didn’t mean Lance was out of the running.

While Jon was first through the Salmon Ladder and Rumbling Dice, he paused and looked hesitant before starting the Zig Zag Climb. This let Lance close the gap and both tried for the final climb. Lance’s pace was incredible while Jon began slowing. Had the climb been any longer, Lance might have passed Jon. In this case, Jon hit the buzzer just as Lance swooped in behind him.

Point = Labreckfast Club

Dark Horse is OUT

Labreckfast Club is off to playoffs!

The Mitsubishi Drive of the Night rightly went to Lance and Jon’s final race. The battle on the Pole Grasper showed both their desire to pull the win. Lance’s determine ascent of the Zig Zag Climb demonstrated that you can never count a Ninja out.

Next week:

Ninja vs Ninja returns on March 15.

Party Time vs Brazi Bros

Fast Kats vs All-Americans Ninjas