The Greatest Female Players in Challenge History: #19- Jenn Grijalva
6 Seasons: Inferno 3, The Island (Final), Duel II, Fresh Meat II (4th place) Cutthroat (3rd place), Rivals (3rd place)
5–3 Elimination Record
10 Challenge Wins
Daily Challenges: 7.5/10
There’s a strong argument to be made that Jenn is one of the greatest political players in Challenge history. Despite never being anything more than an above-average competitor, Jenn is tied for fourth-most finals appearances by a female competitor, behind only Cara Maria, Paula and Sarah and tied with the likes of Evelyn, Laurel, Camila and Coral (technically Susie and Veronica also have four finals appearances, but their first seasons didn’t have eliminations).
Jenn was much more similar to players like Coral and Veronica than she was to Laurel and Evelyn, as she was a solid competitor who usually made it as far as she did based on her relationships.
On The Island, Jenn basically guaranteed herself a key by going into the Face-off against Paula and a hobbled Ashli, ensuring that as long as Ashli didn’t win she would either earn the key through the Face-off or by beating Ashli in the vote.
In what I think is her best political game, Fresh Meat II, she and Ryan perfectly played the middle between the Wes/Evelyn and Kenny feud, ultimately joining up with Kenny when the numbers shifted to his side.
Jenn made it through both Cutthroat and Rivals without ever having to see an elimination. On Cutthroat, she used her veteran status to stay out of the Gulag while Emily went in twice. Her relationships with players like Paula and JEK helped her never get thrown into the Jungle on Rivals.
But as much as Jenn deserves credit as a political player, I don’t think she gets the respect she should as a competitor.
She won multiple eliminations on two different seasons, taking out Rachel M and Colie on Inferno 3 and defeating Katie and Kim on Duel II in Push Me.
She and Noor also won the final exile of Fresh Meat II, knocking out Ryan/Theresa. Meanwhile, her only losses came to solid competitors in Susie and Diem.
Jenn was arguably the best female competitor on the blue team of Cutthroat. Yes, debatably better than the great Emily Schromm, who wasn’t as much of a physical specimen until her last two seasons.
(Because I knew some people would protest this, I went back and watched all the missions from Cutthroat. It’s hard to judge them against each other in most of the dailies, but in the Surf’s Up challenge Jenn and Emily were partnered together and Jenn finished ahead of Emily by a wide margin. Also in the Riot Act mission, Emily was pushed off before Jenn. The point is, she was on par with one of the greatest female competitors in Challenge history, albeit before she hit her prime.)
On Rivals, her and Mandi were the only female team in the final to not have finished last and have to go into an elimination, and they won the Against the Current challenge on a female elimination day.
I think Jenn mostly gets her bad rap from her finals performances. And while she and Mandi were embarrassing in the Rivals final (to be fair, it was one of the hardest finals of all time and Jenn was very sick for it), she never had a real chance to win any of them.
She was saddled with a clearly inferior boat on The Island with Paula, Robin and Ryan; she and Noor were clearly the worst team in the Fresh Meat II final; she and Emily had no chance competing against teams with four and five players on Cutthroat; and she and Mandi were never going to beat Evelyn/Paula and Laurel/Cara Maria.
Jenn is by no means an elite competitor in Challenge history, but she was solid. Coupled with her excellent political game, she was able to make four finals in just six seasons, putting her in elite company with only Coral and Laurel.