If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s someone from Utah participating in “American Ninja Warrior.” The state has had a strong presence on the contest for years – in fact, Salt Lake City’s Isaac Caldiero is one of only two people in the show’s history to be declared the “American Ninja Warrior” champion and claim the title. $1 million prize money from the show.
But this season could be Utah’s best showing yet. In a single episode, five Utahns attempted the tricky obstacle course for a semi-final berth, leading one of the show’s announcers to proclaim that “Utah is becoming a hotbed for ‘American Ninja’. Warrior “.”
Now, at least five Utahns have made it to the “American Ninja Warrior” semi-finals, which will air July 18 and 25. Here’s a rundown of Utah competitors to watch.
Meet American Ninja Warrior contestant Mady Howard
This season marks Mady Howard’s third appearance on ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ but this one may stand out from all the others because at the time of filming, it had only been six months since she gave birth to her son, Beckham. .
Howard, 26, is a former Southern Utah University gymnast and first competed on the show in 2019, the Deseret News reported. The show’s announcers said Howard – who is also a nurse and lives in Washington, Utah – was a “breakout star three years ago and instantly became one of our top competitors.”
A recent clip shared on “American Ninja Warrior” showed Howard working out and training for the show with his baby by his side in a bouncer.
“Beckham could be a ninja in training,” she said with a smile.
On his first run of the season, which aired July 11, Howard had Beckham and her husband, Tyler, cheering him on from the sidelines. At one point, Beckham appeared distressed as his mother faced the pressures of competition.
Howard ended up getting knocked out at the fifth obstacle of the course, the Final Frontier, which knocked down countless ninjas during the episode. But her quick time got her into the top 30 and secured her a place in the semi-finals.
Meet “American Ninja Warrior” Contestant John Mack
At 6-foot-5, John Mack is one of “American Ninja Warrior’s” tallest competitors. The 21-year-old from southern Jordan appeared on the show for the first time last season and advanced to the semi-finals.
Ahead of his second appearance on the show, which aired on July 11, Mack shared how “American Ninja Warrior” helped lift him out of depression after he suffered two head injuries when he was 12 and 13 and was no longer able to play contact sports. . His father built “American Ninja Warrior” obstacles in their backyard and encouraged Mack to wrestle for show.
A few months later, Mack’s father committed suicide.
“We had finally really started to connect on something again and then one day he just wasn’t there anymore,” Mack shared in a clip that aired during the episode.
“It wasn’t easy being 13, having a concussion, then watching his dad die and having to find a way to move on, but John did it,” said his mother, Melinda Mack. . “One of the things that really saved him was being able to go out and take his ninja class. I’m so proud of John.
With his mother and other family and friends cheering him on, Mack eventually completed the course and set the fastest time of the night – 1:49.65. When he pressed the buzzer at the end of the course, he couldn’t help but be moved.
“My mother is my hero and my role model,” he said. “And she’s been by my side through all the bad times, so it’s finally good to have her here for a good time.”
Meet “American Ninja Warrior” Contestant Tyler Kurtzhals
He competed on “American Ninja Warrior Jr.”, and now 18-year-old Tyler Kurtzhals is officially up for “American Ninja Warrior.”
Kurtzhals, a Herriman native, recently graduated from Mountain Ridge High School. Kurtzhals had an impressive run on “American Ninja Warrior”, but like many ninjas before him, he fell on the Final Frontier hurdle. Thanks to his quick time, the teenager finished the evening in 20th place and secured a place in the semi-finals.
Meet “American Ninja Warrior” contestant Mark Farrell
Mark Farrell didn’t get much screen time on the June 27 episode, but “American Ninja Warrior” briefly showed the Ogden contestant going through the obstacle course – in denim shorts. In the end, Farrell — who the show described as a “break-dancing software engineer” — was knocked out on the Final Frontier hurdle.
It was Farrell’s first time on the show, and his 2:05 run time put him 23rd overall for the night, securing his place in the semi-finals.
Meet American Ninja Warrior contestant Eric Middleton
Eric Middleton is familiar with an “American Ninja Warrior” journey – this season marks his sixth appearance on the series.
An entomologist who completed his undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Utah, Middleton is known as “The Bug Ninja” in the “American Ninja Warrior” world, the Deseret News previously reported. When he finishes a course, he often challenges hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila to eat insects – like the tempura-fried tarantula that Middleton made them eat in 2018.
Middleton appeared on the Season 14 premiere in June and ended up ranking No. 25 for the night, securing his place in the semi-finals. Over the years, he has qualified for the national final four times, the Deseret News reported.
Throughout his runs on “American Ninja Warrior,” Middleton enjoyed sharing his passion for bugs with the show’s viewers.
“It was really great to bring more awareness to entomology,” he previously told the University of Utah. “I’ve had people contact me on Facebook saying their kids have seen me on the show and they’re really excited about the bugs and excited that there’s someone else. who thinks bugs are cool.”
“American Ninja Warrior” airs on NBC Monday at 7 p.m. MDT.