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Rookie Philip Scott walks us through the courageous City Finals run that earned him a spot in Vegas

“Are you kidding me? It’s pretty wild, and I’m pretty excited to just be here.” — Philip Scott, on making it to Vegas

David Becker/NBC

A memorable rookie from the Cincinnati region, Philip Scott looked strong and confident on the Ninja Warrior courses this season, but his journey to the National Finals in Vegas wasn’t as easy as it sometimes looked.

Looking Back to the Cincinnati City Finals

Making it to the Cincinnati City Finals as a rookie is an awesome accomplishment, but for Philip Scott, it came with severe anxiety. During our interview in Las Vegas, Philip opened up about everything he experienced leading up to the City Finals.

“Well... I had multiple panic attacks the day before my City Finals run. I called up the producers saying, ‘I can’t run. This is too hard.’ They were really nice, though. They were understanding. They were like, ‘We can help you. We can give you a spot away from everybody just to calm down. You can make up your mind, and it’s okay, whatever you decide.’ My parents helped me a lot. My parents were like, ‘Do you want your anxiety to win, or do you want yourself to win?’ I’m like, ‘I want me to win.’

And win, he did! He came up with a plan…

“I was supposed to run eighth or tenth or something in City Finals, and I’m like, ‘Can I run first?’ And so, then they were going back and forth. They’re like, ‘Yeah, you can run first.’ So, that was cool. I got to run first…I had no idea what to expect. Panic attacks take a lot out of you, physically. There’s a lot of physical symptoms involved, such as lots of tremoring and all that, especially for me. It’s different for everybody. And so, I was at, probably, fifty percent strength for City Finals. I usually have a game plan for most of my stuff. I had a game plan for the obstacles that I’d done in the Qualifying Round.”

And then he followed through. Here’s Philip’s play-by-play of his full City Finals course run:

“I was pretty nervous, and I felt pretty weak going into City Finals… Honestly, when the dude went, ‘Five, four, three, two, one, go!’ all of a sudden, I felt normal because Ninja Warrior is what I do all the time. So that was the one thing that felt familiar to me, away from all the cameras and all the crowds. I could just focus on playing on obstacles, which I love. So I just somehow remembered my game plan for the first half of the course. I remember every second of it…”

Shrinking Steps, Ring Swing, Spinning Bridge, Wingnuts

“So on the Shrinking Steps, I was shaking on those, and I just thought of how to get through them a little bit more efficiently. And then Ring Swing, I was swinging multiple times on that, and I was just like, ‘This time, I’m going to get a big kick back, and just go, no matter what, dismount.’ Then, Spinning Bridge, I knew to keep myself up a little higher up. And then Wingnuts, I took a couple left swings.”

Slingshot & Warped Wall

“Then Slingshot, which I failed night one, I remembered to actually adjust my bar if it got a little off because that’s what did me in the first night. I remember just going down to the last Slingshot and making it. I’m like, ‘Yes!’ I dismounted immediately to the Warped Wall. I remember taking a couple seconds. I remember walking up close to the curve of the Warped Wall just to stare at it, just to be like, ‘I’m finally here, after so long.’ And then, I just went back and just went right up it. Then, I pointed, ‘You see me, Akbar?’, and you can’t hear what they say back, especially with the crowd going. You can’t hear what they’re saying in the booth. But I could see him pointing, like, ‘I see you!’ That was fun.”

Salmon Ladder & Slam Dunk

“Then I went and got to the Salmon Ladder, did that. And then, I was the first person ever to attempt the Slam Dunk. It was way slicker than I had expected, but I just held on every time. On the last one, because I was at fifty percent strength, my arms were just so dead at that point, but I made it to the last one and dismounted. “

Spinball Wizard

“And then, Spinball Wizard, I knew I was done for. I think I grabbed them wrong. I grabbed them like normal cannonballs on the inside instead of outside, because they’re the big, wide jumps, and I failed the first one. I was so gassed. But yeah, what an experience! I ran first, and I think I set the tone for the night because then there were, what, seven finishers? So yeah, I got ninth place, and here I am in Vegas.”

Vegas…what an accomplishment! Philip gave us his thoughts on Vegas, just a couple days before he ran the National Finals Stage One course.

“Vegas courses are my favorite, just because I’ve been watching ANW for so long, and Sasuke before that. This is very Sasuke-esque with the four stages. Stage One is my favorite course in all of Ninja. So I trained Stage One-style courses a lot… I expect myself to be a little nervous. Not nearly as nervous as I was for Cincinnati, especially City Finals because now ... It’s like Vegas, rookie year ... Are you kidding me? It’s pretty wild, and I’m pretty excited to just be here. But what I expect from myself is that no matter how much I doubt myself beforehand, I know that I’ll give it my best shot.”

And give it his best shot, he did! With the world watching, Philip conquered his fears, made a game plan, and followed through in the most heart-warming, fantastic way. We can’t wait to see how far you go in Season 12, Phil!

Tune in for more National Finals action on Monday, September 2 at 8/7c on NBC.