The obstacle course show American Ninja Warrior has always had some Cal connection with Winter Calympian Johnny Moseley being one of its first hosts. As that show has gotten bigger in recent years, several veteran ninjas have started to stand out—one of them is former Cal Men’s Gymnastics team member Sean Bryan, a.k.a. the Papal Ninja in honor of his Catholic faith.
Originally from New Jersey, Bryan transferred to Cal from Temple and competed for three years on the Cal Men’s Gymnastics program from 2006 to 2008. His best event was the parallel bars; his routine from the NCAA national championships is embedded below.
He also gets bonus points in my book for being a fellow Cal physics department alum.
Bryan was one of four elite ninjas to represent Team USA in the special USA vs the World, which aired few weeks ago on NBC. I was only alerted of his Cal connection because he now lists Berkeley (rather than LA, if I recall correctly) as his home city. Bryan ran stage 2 of the course.
And was Team USA’s representative in the final race up stage 4 against Team European Union for the tournament title.
This special is on the heels of the 2017 season, where Bryan went quite far by qualifying for the Las Vegas final with this brilliant Los Angeles City Finals run.
Bryan was quite successful in the one fall then done final. Bryan was able to successfully get through Stage 2.
Bryan was part of a small group of contestants that made it to Stage 3. Here is his Stage 3 run.
Can Sean Bryan be only the third person ever to complete the four-stage Vegas course in 2018? We shall see when that season airs in the fall of 2018.
Personally, I jumped on the ANW bandwagon rather late (only in the last 3–4 years for a show that is on season 11). I did get to go see them film in person when they came to Philadelphia back in 2016 (and they are apparently back here to Philly in May). It is quite exciting to see these elite athletes tackle these obstacles, which look a lot more formidable in person.
I have no doubt that there are other Ninjas on ANW with the Cal connection. One of the spin-offs of ANW in 2016 was a college team tournament where UCLA, USC, Stanford, and Colorado were all represented—but not Cal. If you know of any other Cal-related ninjas, please let us know in the comment section below.