The leaderboard at the end of the American Ninja Warrior Indianapolis Qualifiers was an interesting one to analyze. Accomplished veterans like Brian Arnold and Ethan Swanson were kept from completing the course by the Spin Hopper. Dan Polizzi, who fell fairly early in season nine, tore through the course in just 2:29.70. But the number one spot went to a fairly new name: Michael Bougher.
Now 22, Michael joined the Army National Guard at just 17 years old. He’s also an EMT and a student with a full course load at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis. This is only Michael’s second season on the show. He competed in Kansas City during season nine and fell on the Broken Pipes in the City Finals. Apparently, he learned well from that experience, as he was nearly flawless in this year’s debut run.
Find out what was going through Michael’s mind as he shot down the course to the top of the scoreboard.
“I was feeling pretty happy just to be here. It’s an awesome experience to see all my friends and be out here competing. It’s a really good time. I know last year was my rookie year. I went out there and did pretty well the first night, not so well the second night. I was kind of going out for speed.
This time I tried to relax a little bit. Most people know me for my speed. I think it’s just because I’m so fluid between obstacles. I don’t break a lot. Keep moving and I’ll be alright. That was my mindset. You don’t have to go out there and try to burn it. Just go out, have fun, stay fluid, and trust in your abilities and you can crush it. That’s how I was feeling and I went out and did it. I was feeling really good after too.
The Wheel Flip was so much fun! That was one of my favorite things. I saw the whole entire course and I thought each of these obstacles just looks like fun. I was excited for each and every one of them individually. The Wheel Flip was awesome. I jumped up to it and started cranking that thing and it was just a blast to be on it. If I could go back right now, I would do it. It was just a fun obstacle, absolutely.
Spin Hopper was freaky. I wasn’t sure I was remembering which ones were locked and which ones were wiggling. I just went into it thinking they would all wiggle. I was trying to keep my hands even and make solid connections on each of them. Trying to go as quick as possible with solid movements, not trying to rush it because as soon as you rush it, you’re going to slip right off one of them. I just tried to make smart, deliberate movements and keep moving.”
“So that’s one of the things I’m pretty good at is hitting 18 foot walls. I’ve done one or two in the past. But the day of the competition, I had been running one at a local gym. I moved up as close as I could, and I ran it about 50 times and I just wasn’t getting it. It was almost like I got out there and it was a formality. I just got to do it because everybody’s expecting me to do it. I ran it and I’m pretty sure my hands were above the edge and I’m like, ‘Why didn’t I just grab it?’ But by the time I needed to grab it, I was already back down. I should have just had my head in it a little bit more for the wall. But I still went out there and had a lot of fun.”
I’m feeling pretty good (going into City Finals). The extended course is looking like a lot of fun too. I just think it’s going to be a really good time.”