CONCORD, CA (Aug. 9, 2023) — Clayton Valley Charter High senior Noah Jones, made it through the first elimination rounds of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior last month. In the Aug. 7 episode he faced one of the show’s most experienced contestants for a spot in the finals.
ANW added a new element this year, in which athletes must not only contend with climbing, jumping and balancing obstacles, but also simultaneously race fellow competitors.
This season is the first for Jones, on a show where many athletes return year after year to compete for the $1 million prize. For the semi-finals, Jones was matched against 34-year-old ANW veteran Joe Moravsky, who first appeared in Season 5, 10 years ago. The powerhouse athlete has reached the finals rounds multiple times in past seasons.
Jones, a long-time fan of the show, once got Moravsky’s autograph at age 14. During Monday’s episode, the show hosts revealed that the high school wrestler would compete directly against his idol.
“I’ve been training ninja and dreaming of being like Joe Moravsky since I was nine years old,” Jones told the Pioneer. “Getting the chance to compete on the show with my coaches and training partners was a dream come true. Making it to semi finals and racing against Joe was surreal.”
Jones trained at MVMNTM Gym in Concord with other show veterans including Alan Connealy, James “Guido” DiStefano, Brittany Durant and Verdale Benson. He also trains at Traverse Fitness in Richmond with his long-time coach Brian Kretsch. Some of them cheered from the sidelines as he took on his idol in the challenge.
Jones appeared strong, if justifiably nervous, as he waited for the starting bell. Moravsky exploded across the first obstacle. Jones stayed close on his heels.
The third challenge, called “Beehive,” involved leaping off a small trampoline and then swinging from one octagonal-shaped device to the next using hands only. Some of the devices must then be rotated in midair before swinging from one to the next.
But Jones made a critical mistake. Each device has handholds on only one side. The other side is smooth. Leaping into the air, Jones found himself on the side with nothing to grab onto, and plummeted into the pool below. This took him out of the competition.
Shortly after, Moravsky also fell on a different obstacle. Had Jones not missed the Beehive handholds, it’s possible the younger athlete could have outlasted Moravsky and moved on to the Las Vegas finals.
But Jones had no regrets and said, “I hope some day I get to go back and compete again.”