Drew Drechsel could stop his American Ninja Warrior season right now and it would already be historic. In the Atlanta Qualifiers and City Finals, he put together the first-ever “trifecta.” That means he took home $10,000 from the Mega Wall, the Speed Pass which advanced him to the National Finals, and the Safety Pass that allows him a do-over on Stage or Two once he’s there. That’s a pretty good start for someone who previously said he wasn’t too keen on pursuing the season’s new prizes.
Now, it’s all about the National Finals in Las Vegas. With the momentum he’s already built up, it’s hard not to put some big expectations on Drew’s forthcoming performances. But as viewers and Drew know, anything can happen.
On the ground in Vegas, we asked Drew to take a look back at the City Finals and give us his perspective on what the National Finals could possibly include this year.
His City Finals run
“City Finals was ... It was a different type of run for me because I had the Speed Pass. I had a trip to Vegas no matter what happened and I got to play on a course with zero repercussion, if I did something wrong. So it was a chance for me to test myself how I would do in Vegas. What I mean is after each obstacle, instead of pacing myself and resting, I was pushing to see where my endurance laid, where my strengths were, weaknesses and see how I would do without any rests or break.”
“And this was the first time I ever got a chance to do that and I crushed it. I did very well. I kind of put a City Finals course in comparison of difficulty to a Stage Two or Three. I even think a City Finals course is harder than Stage One in Vegas. To crush it that hard so many months in advance before the finals, I felt very comfortable going into Vegas this year. Not to say to take my training lightly, but knowing that if I did what I did in City Finals, that Stage Two should feel ...
I compare everything, by the way, to last year’s Stage Two and last year’s Stage Three. Yes, we could see some new things. But as far as difficulty on the course, I think that I am well capable of Stage Two and Three. Since then I’ve just been training extremely hard. And I had Flip (Rodriguez) come out for three weeks with me in Connecticut and we’ve been training very hard. I’ve never felt so strong, conditioned, in a good mindset than I have this year, so I’m excited to see how it plays out.”
What it means to have the Safety Pass in Vegas
“I’ve got the Safety Pass. Not that I want to use it because yes, falling on Stage One or Two, yes, I get to go again, but that’s a huge hit to your confidence, and confidence goes a long way on the course. If you’re timid or scared about something, chances are you’re probably going to eat it on that obstacle. You have to go into it with confidence and just approach it with a sense that you can do it. And if you fall on something, you lose that and it’s going to make it very hard to get through it a second time if you fail it a first time knowing how much is on the line.
I started getting nervous back in March. When the season starts, nerves kick in. I know that this is the time of year where everything I do from here on out is going to affect my performance over the next coming days. Everything I do. Don’t want to get hurt training too hard. You don’t want to not train hard enough and look back like, ‘Man, I could’ve given it more.’ You don’t want to go out there and make a silly mental mistake. You can do everything right physically, and just mental lapse will take you out, and then that’s it. There’s a whole year to wait.”
Is it time for a winner?
“We’ve been going for four years now. Is it four years, I think, without a winner? I think not only is it getting closer that we’re going to have a winner this year just because everyone wants it so hard and it’s getting that built up. Everyone’s just ready. Everyone wants a winner. Everyone wants it and they’re training harder than ever that I think we’re going to get a winner.
And when we do get a winner, I don’t see why the course shouldn’t evolve and become extremely difficult to kind of get ready for the next winner. There’s a lot more pressure this year in my eyes, my opinion, knowing that I think this year we’re going to have a winner and if it’s not me, then I have to wait another five years before it can be me again.”
His plans for the next run on Stage One
“I really can only expect to try my best. I’ve said it before, there’s only two things out there that I can control and that’s having a good time, that’s a good mentality, and then giving it my all. Anything else could happen. I can go out there and I can give it everything I have, but something goes wrong and I fall. I can’t really be too mad at myself if I’m trying the best I can try. Right? If I go out there and kind of only go half way at something, if I fall, then it’s my own fault and I have no one to blame but myself. I’ve got no reason to ever be upset other than at myself for not going all the way, giving it my all.”
Drew will step up to Stage One of the National Finals in just a few weeks. Can his pretty perfect season keep going?