'American Grit' recap: Army Ranger Nick "The Reaper" Irving's team loses Maria Kang
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/06/2016
American Grit eliminated the first member of Army Ranger Nick "The Reaper" Irving's team, Maria Kang, during Thursday night's broadcast on Fox.
Maria, a 35-year-old nonprofit founder and author who was dubbed "The No Excuses Mom" on the show, was one of four members on Nick's team. After being chosen to compete in "the circus," Maria was the first person to fail and ring the bell, ultimately sealing her fate in the new survival and military-themed reality competition.
"It's not easy to be a mom and sacrifice," Maria said following her ouster, explaining why she struggled to get her head in the right place for the show. "[But] I get to show my kids that mommy tried and it was one of the best experiences of my life, so I'm thankful for American Grit."
American Grit's episode began with host John Cena explaining the four teams led by military heroes would embark on another challenge called an "evolution." The four leaders are Nick, Navy SEAL Commander Rorke Denver, Marine Gunnery Sergeante Tawanda "Tee" Hanible, and Army Sergeant Noah Galloway.
Nick's team was comprised of Maria; Jim "The Boston Cop" Vaglica, a 54-year-old police officer; Cameron "The Wrestler" Zagami, a 22-year-old professional wrestler; and Kimberly "KJoy" Joy, a 38-year-old yoga instructor.
Rorke had recruited Tabatha "The Roller Girl" Chandler, a 39-year-old registered nurse; Mario "The Triathlete" Robinson, a 25-year-old personal trainer; and Ashley "The Marine's Daughter" Hazlett, a 31-year-old event coordinator.
The two remaining civilians on Tee's team were Tony "Touchdown Tony" Simmons, a 41-year-old sports performance coach and former NFL player, and Ivette "The Equestrian" Saucedo, a 35-year-old model.
Noah's team -- stilly fully intact -- consisted of Lisa "The Bikini Bodybuilder" Traugott, a 42-year-old trainer and author; David "The Olympian" Neville, a 31-year-old college track and field head coach; Clare "The Fisherman" Painter, a 47-year-old horse trainer and fisherman; and Mark "The Lumberjack" Bouquin, a 26-year-old Timbersports athlete.
The season's fourth evolution required each team to race to four observation posts, memorize a series of symbols on a puzzle board, complete distracting obstacles, and then come back to the start and select from a pile of decoys to recreate the symbols they had seen on the puzzle board.
The team to finish first would not participate in the circus and therefore be safe from elimination. Noah's team ended up winning the evolution for the fourth straight time.
John then explained the three losing teams must send one member into the circus, the most brutal combination of military exercises which Rorke previously described as "a savage beating." The first person to give up in the circus and ring the bell would be sent home.
Rorke, Nick and Tee were tasked with choosing which one of their team members would represent them in the circus. Tee only had one option since Tony previously competed in the circus, so Ivette had to go in by default. Nick sent Maria in because she had been arguing with Joe and needed to prove she had a lot to offer. Rorke had Ashley, known as "Haze," compete.
For the circus, the three participants were instructed to complete a muscle-draining obstacle course complete with climbing a three-story cargo net, ascending a 30-foot log structure and tumbling down a canyon.
At the end, the civilians had to stand on an endurance platform, where they were required to "tree hug" for as long as possible. The participants had to also alternate from lower to higher posts upon command, making it more difficult to hold on.
Ivette arrived at the endurance platform in first place and therefore received a 10-minute advantage in which she could rest. Haze got to the platform next and received a five-minute advantage in the endurance portion of the circus. After about 40 minutes, Maria had trouble switching posts and fell down her pole first.