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Climber Jody Freeman has big goals for Las Vegas

The rookie wants a crack at Stage Three.

Quantrell Colbert/NBC

Jody Freeman stepped up to American Ninja Warrior this season as a perceived underdog. At 19-years-old and 115 pounds, he was the youngest and lightest Ninja in the Atlanta region. But the long-time rock climber knew what he was capable of, and he was ready to show us.

During Qualifiers, Jody earned fifth place with his course completion. During the City Finals, he ranked seventh after making it to the tenth obstacle, the Spider Trap. He missed the buzzer when he slipped out of that last obstacle, but this rookie was safely on his way to the National Finals.

Making it to Vegas is a huge accomplishment for a competitor’s first season. Jody told us more about what happened in the final moments of his City Finals run and how it feels to have big opportunities right ahead of him.

“I got to the last obstacle, the Spider Trap. And then failed on that, I couldn’t push the doors open. But other than that, it was super good. The Finals obstacles, the three before that, were definitely catered to climbers. The Salmon Ladder, I have that in my backyard so that was easy. And then the other two were different grips, which is my wheelhouse, so that was good.”

“I was tapped (on Spider Trap). And then I wasn’t thinking super clearly, when I went to push the walls open, where I grabbed them with my hands was, I learned later, a terrible leverage point. I grabbed them in the middle instead of at the edge. And then, yeah, I couldn’t get a solid base with my feet to really push them open.”

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“(Making it to Vegas) was awesome, I was super stoked on it. I felt like I did what I wanted and made a good first impression for the show. And now that I’m here, it’s just living out even more of my dream.

I feel less nervous for Vegas than I did for the Atlanta courses. Like I said, the first impression’s done, I’ve made that mark. Now I can kind of focus more on seeing how far I can go, instead of, ‘I have to at least get this far.’ But the thing I’m probably most worried about is the Jumping Spider, just because that can take out anybody. And not having a whole lot of obstacle experience, that’s definitely one I’m looking at as a potential to take me out.”

“I expect that Stage One will probably be the most difficult for me, because that’s more catered towards the parkour guys and really kind of going fast and carrying your momentum. Whereas if I can get to Stage Three, I’m a climber, that’s what I’m good at. If I can hang on the grip, I’ll hang on and not let go. So definitely I would love to get to Stage Three, but I got to get through two more to get there.”

Do you think a rookie can make their way to Stage Three? We’ll find out when Jody returns to tackle Stage One of the National Finals.