Challenge Fan Friday: Jonna Mannion, an unheralded competitor

Happy Friday! Gonna be doing some fun stuff on Friday’s from now on.

Here is the link to a Challenge Dirty 30 cast quiz. We will be doing more throughout the season.

On Reddit, someone postulated the question of who are the greatest players to have never made a final. My response was: Shane Landrum, Cohutta Grindstaff, and Jonna Mannion. On the Challenge most solid female competitors have made a final at least one time due to a general dearth in competition.

Jonna was one who kept getting knocked out right at the end. She was the last eliminated on Rivals 1 and Battle of the Seasons. Second to last eliminated on Rivals 2, last to be eliminated via Exile on Exes 2, and got to the midway point on Free Agents. Never been an easy out, and has never made it to end. Someone else asked me on Reddit about how she would do in a final.

Here’s what I’ll say about it: Jonna would struggle in a final due to her size. She was barely 100–110 lbs, we’ve never seen her do too much long distance running, not a killer swimmer, and she can’t carry a ton of weight. She is not terrible at anything — one of her biggest strengths. Your biggest fear is her getting flustered like with Nany on Rivals 2 and Zach on Exes 2. Jonna performs best when she is in a leadership role. Though she often takes the passenger seat and that may lead to some of her losses.

She helped her and Jasmine win their elimination against Sarah/Katelynn, and performed great under the pressure of the elimination and exile they lost on Exes 2, and lost purely due to Zach. The one highly interesting tidbit is what would have happened if Jonna/Nany was in the Rivals 2 final instead of Camila/Jemmye.

If you remember the Rivals 2 final, day one was a swim onto a shore where there’s giant Tetris-like blocks in which the competitor had to arrange to create a horseshoe, a cube, or a T shape. Puzzles like that are right down Jonna’s wheelhouse when she is in control. With Nany who would do what Jonna says when it came to a puzzle, in comparison to a screaming Zach, she might have been able to pull off the puzzle before Cooke/Cara and definitely could have beat Paula/Emily. In that scenario, Paula and Emily don’t make day two of the final due to a puzzle. Challenge fans would have exploded over that.

Except, that didn’t happen, Jonna/Nany finished in fifth place. Luckily, their friendship began to become repaired, and I believe they still remain friends today. So even though they didn’t make the final, they got something out of it.

One of my favorite moments on Exes 2 was the candid conversation between Jonna & Nany where they discuss everyone hating them, and their accepted hatred for everything. It was those authentic human moments where you could relate with here. Something we almost never get from the characters who only become caricatures of what the editing team decides they are.

She has always been a fan of these shows. Jonna was on the game show Endurance as a kid, showed up on some clip shows during Rivals 3 doing commentary, and occasionally tweets her reactions to episodes. Last season when people were speculating about who was going to be on Season 30 of the Challenge, Jonna had not been on social media for a few days. Then the episode of CT beating Darrell in Knot So Fast happened, where she promptly tweets:

In the last year and half, Jonna got pregnant, and got engaged.

It is always sweet to watch the competitors grow up and settle down. It was not too long ago that Jonna was the girl on Real World Cancun hooking up with her roommates crush, to going on Rivals with Jasmine where they won their first ever challenge. She had a relationship with Zach, hook ups with Jordan, Isaac, and Jay, and dazzled us with her beautiful eyes. Her hair was always a high for most seasons. She’d wear an afro one season, have her hair straightened another, extensions another, or maybe a beanie with glasses. Regardless, Jonna was always looking good and bringing it as a competitor.

There was a rumor that Jonna had accepted the initial availability call for the Dirty 30. And it looked to be true, as she was in Los Angeles around the same time that they were doing testing for the show. It was weird. We knew that she still wasn’t fully back in shape — because she had a baby recently. But there was so much excitement around the possibility of her being there. Jonna’s return was the one that we didn’t know that we’d really want. In a crazy world, Jonna embraced so much of what the Challenge is in terms of pushing yourself.

On Rivals 1, Jonna won her first daily challenge ever, beating an entire group of veterans who ended up totaling 10 Challenge wins when all is said and done. She helped Jasmine have her best performance on a Challenge ever, out-puzzled the “puzzle expert” in Sarah, and showed heart in their physical elimination with Laurel. One of the crazy things when looking back at Jonna’s elimination losses, she lost to Laurel/Cara Maria — two of the best female competitors all time. Her other losses are to: Sarah/Jordan, Cooke/Cara, Frank/Ashley, and Aneesa. Besides Aneesa who is an elimination ringer, Jonna’s only lost to elite competition, and in each showing, she never gave up and always came up close.

If Jonna ever chooses to do another, we will be ready with open arms. If she’d rather watch with her baby and live tweet along with us, we’d welcome that just as much. She had a great stint on the show and was an important cast member for a bunch of solids seasons from Rivals 1 to Exes 2.

Going to end this with the best Jonna gifs that I could find on Tumblr.

The links to the tumblr fan pages:



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