SUU Graduate Competes on American Ninja Warrior

Southern Utah University alumna Madyson Blake-Howard recently competed in the Seattle/Tacoma region of season eleven American Ninja Warrior and will proceed to the next round. Competing during her college career as a Flippin’ Bird with SUU Gymnastics, Howard holds the second highest floor score in University history.

“American Ninja Warrior has been so much fun! I was so excited to get the call to be on the show and give the course a try,” Howard said. “I feel like competing as a gymnast prepared me for the nerves that come with competing on a big stage and helped me stay in the moment before I stepped on the course.”

Howard competed in the Tacoma Dome, the first indoor course in the show’s history. She made it to the end of the “lightning bolts”, the fifth obstacle in the course, and ended the night as one of the top five women. She will move on to compete at the City Finals, which will air at the beginning of August.

“Although I really wanted to complete the course and hit a buzzer, I was happy to make it to the end of the lightning bolts,” Howard said. “My goal was to take it one obstacle at a time and just have fun while doing it!”

Howard, then Blake, competed with the Flippin’ Birds on both vault and floor throughout her college career. After unofficially retiring from gymnastics in 2017, she made her mark in SUU Gymnastics history by filling in for an injured teammate and scoring a 9.925 on floor, her personal best. She hadn’t competed on floor in a year, and her routine was put together in a mere two weeks. This score lead the team to victory against BYU and remains the second highest floor score in SUU Gymnastics history.

“Madyson was an outstanding student athlete in every sense of the word,” said Women’s Gymnastics Head Coach Scott Bauman.  “She was a great leader, a straight A student, and still has some of the highest scores in our school’s history on floor. She was very reliable in competition. A coach’s dream to work with.”

Howard graduated in December of 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She currently works as an ICU nurse and lives with her husband in St. George, Utah.

“My time at SUU was such an important part of my journey,” said Howard. “I feel lucky to have gone to a school where the professors care about each of their students’ success in school as well as their future careers. My teachers always supported me and were so willing to work with my gymnastics schedule so that I could compete while doing nursing school. I will always be grateful to my gymnastics coaches and nursing professors who helped me make my dreams a reality.”

Watch Howard in the American Ninja Warrior City Finals, which air at the beginning of August on NBC. Learn more about SUU Gymnastics by visiting their website.

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