There’s just no stopping Mathis “The Kid” Owhadi. Season 10 was his breakout year as a rookie and he’s back on top for season 11. After completing the American Ninja Warrior Oklahoma City Finals course, he raced his friend and mentor Daniel Gil on the Power Tower where Mathis emerged victorious with the Safety Pass.
His Safety Pass hasn’t come in handy just yet. Mathis took Stage One of the National Finals apart, racing to the buzzer with the top time out of all the competitors. His next hurdle is Stage Two. There’s already chatter that he’s in the running to become this year’s winner, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
We spoke to Mathis ahead of his Stage One run to find out where his mind was at during this intense part of the competition.
How were the Oklahoma City Finals?
MO: So City Finals in OKC was really fun. It exceeded my expectations. I finished the course and got lucky enough to complete it in the fastest two times, and got to do the Power Tower. That was really fun. It was really intimidating, but I really wanted to get to play on it since I didn’t get to play on it in Qualifiers. So I got to play on it, and then got the win, and the Safety Pass. It just ended up really good for me.
Does it feel different returning to the National Finals for a second season?
MO: A little bit, yeah. I feel like now I have a little bit more experience and it’s not my first time anymore, even though before I’d tested and been on spinoff shows or whatever. But now I feel I’m also healthier this year. Last year I had a pulled tendon in my left hand, and my right hand had issues as well. I feel like I’m a little bit healthier than I was in the past couple of years.
So overall, I feel like this year is going to be just better for me overall, just because I won’t be so worried about hurting myself more.
Does having the Safety Pass make things more relaxed?
MO: For sure, yeah. Because definitely if I think about an obstacle that worries me a little bit, I’ll be like, “Okay, well, worst case if I don’t get it, I can try it again.”
What did it feel like to also know you were going back to Vegas on top of everything you accomplished that year?
MO: That was great. I mean, that was honestly my number one priority. When I was running on the course, I wasn’t thinking like, “Oh, go really fast to do the Safety Pass” or whatever. I was thinking like, “Just finish the course and go to Vegas again.” Right? Then it just so happened that my time was fast enough to be in the top two. It was definitely my goal. So anytime you achieve a goal it feels really good.
What does it feel like to be here in Vegas? Do you have any anticipation, nerves building up, while you’re waiting for things to actually start?
MO: A little bit. Not really. I mean, I think I was probably more nervous last year. This year I feel like it’s just always kind of fun for me. I never get too nervous. I do get nervous right before the run, but building up to it, you’re just pretty relaxed. I get to hang out with friends that I’ve known for a while, like Drew and Daniel and all them. So it’s more or less just hanging out, chilling and waiting to go.
What do you expect from yourself?
MO: I know that I can do most of the obstacles. It’s just a matter of not making a simple mistake, and just going through one obstacle at a time -- first obstacle of Stage One, second obstacle of Stage One. Get through that and then go to the next thing. I think I’m capable of completing all the stages. It’s just a matter of putting it together, and then anything can happen. So it’s just one of those things... Trying to make sure that nothing does happen. Make sure everything goes right.