Jesse Labreck has been a force to be reckoned with from her very first moments on American Ninja Warrior. In her three seasons on the show, she’s become the first female rookie to qualify for Las Vegas, qualified for the National Finals three times, and scaled a 17-foot Warped Wall in the Skills Challenge. One thing that’s eluded her is a buzzer at the National Finals.
When Jesse was announced as part of Team USA for the 2019 USA vs The World, there was no doubt she’d be a huge asset. What we weren’t sure of was what stage she would take on. When we realized she was heading for Stage Two, we were thrilled. Jesse was going after an accomplishment that’s only been completed one other time, two years ago.
Things couldn’t have played out more perfectly during USA vs The World. Jesse was a perfect match for the grueling stage. Reaching the buzzer secured her place in Ninja Warrior history as only the second woman ever to complete Stage Two (first was Jessie Graff).
Jesse told us more about what went into that run and how much it meant to her.
Throw those for @flexlabreck because she just FLEXED on Stage Two. pic.twitter.com/eaDWFcPUCP— Ninja Warrior (@ninjawarrior) January 28, 2019
“I was really nervous. But that’s just me. I’m always nervous when I compete any time. It was a little more nerve-wracking because you’re on a team, so it’s not just yourself you’re letting down. If you don’t make it, you also have your team that you’re letting down as well. Even though I know they’re not going to be upset with me. They’re going to feel bad that I didn’t do well for myself, rather than for our team. But you have it in the back of your mind that you want to do well for the team.”
“Deja Vu was super hard. It’s so technical and it kind of jolts you a little bit. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, so I was definitely a little more nervous for it. I talked to Drew, the captain, the most about it. Different techniques and things like that. What to do, what not to do. I talked to Ethan Swanson, and he did it in Stage Two. So I talked to Drew and Ethan probably the most. And Chris (DiGangi) helped me of course too.”
“I was so nervous for the big jump actually. I was so nervous for that huge jump (on the Swing Surfer) that once I got past that, I calmed down a little bit.
When I grabbed the rope, my legs went back and I cranked my back the wrong way. It was kind of stinging. It was hurting, but I was like, ‘Don’t let it get in your head. Just keep going and you’ll be fine.’ But also it hurt really bad. It was like, ‘Ow!’ But also, ‘Don’t think about it and keep moving.’
It hurt for a couple of days, just aching. But I was totally fine. I just had to rest a little bit. It was just muscle soreness is all.”
“I kind of black out when I’m on the course. I get into such a game mode that I’m not always super self aware. It’s hard for me to even take in the moment. I think I didn’t really realize what was happening until I was going to do the Wingnuts. That was when I soaked it in for a minute and was like, ‘Okay, you’re here. You’re at the Wingnuts now. This is where a lot of people fall. You’ve got to step it up and go for it.’
“It was surreal. It was so awesome and so fun. The big swings and the launches just felt so cool. I was hanging on that last one and I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to make it. But I thought, ‘This is all you have to do. Get through this obstacle. Everything you have to get to the end.’ I just tried to push through as much as I could. I couldn’t even land on my feet I was so tired. I had to land on my butt, but whatever! Whatever works!”
“I’m fine in water. I grew up on a lake, so I’ve been in water since I was little. I knew that I would be fine, so I didn’t even break. I threw on the goggles and went for it. I realized after that I was a little more out of breath than I realized. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is really hard actually!’ But I kept pushing. I wanted to get as fast a time as possible. I didn’t rest. It made it a little harder, not having my breath, but it was so fun!”
“It felt awesome. I was so stoked. I was really excited about that and really happy. It shows that I have earned my place. I didn’t just get lucky to be here. I’ve worked really hard and I love the obstacles and I love what I do. I’ve earned it. I didn’t get lucky on one course and earn my name, I feel like I’ve worked for it.”
“That night was awesome. It’s probably one of my favorite memories from the show. I love doing team stuff. Being able to do all of that together and win together and experience it together, makes it a lot better than just by yourself.”
You can read a full recap of this year’s USA vs The World here.