Keep your eyes on Austin Gray. The Ninja, back for his third year on American Ninja Warrior, has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t beat on season 12. He placed fourth in the Qualifiers, third in Semi-Finals, and currently sits in third place on the leaderboard after night one of the Finals.
You can watch that full Finals run here.
Austin made his debut in season 10 with his incredible story of donating his kidney to a dear friend. In his impressive rookie season, he made it to Stage Two of the National Finals. His sophomore year of season 11 dealt a harsh blow of reality with an early exit in the Seattle/Tacoma Qualifiers.
Season 12, Austin returns as a spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation, and he’s found his stride. To be honest, the show hasn’t had a chance to spend too much time with Austin this season. But that will all change very soon. Unless something drastic happens in the second part of the finals, Austin is very well positioned to move on to the Power Tower playoff. And he’s ready for it.
Spend some time catching up on Austin’s stellar year and his strategy for the Power Tower, in his own words.
“I had no idea the season was going to happen until Thomas Stillings called me and asked if I had gotten my call yet. I was like, ‘What are you guys talking about?’ No idea what was going on. I was super out of the loop. And I guess they were called as team captains. And I hadn’t gotten a call for a couple of days, and then I started to panic. I was like, ‘Is this the season I finally don’t get called back?’ And I’m just a dummy, that’s not the case. I just wasn’t a team captain.
But as soon as I got called, it was a big relief, and I was really excited. Because I knew I was going to get back on obstacles. But as soon as I heard the season was happening, and they told me how soon it was happening, I was very excited. Because that gave an advantage to people that had been training. And then the people that had to start training were on the back foot.”
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Yeah American Ninja Warrior is cool and coming September 7th . But have you ever been around your favorite people without all the stress of real life? . Spending time with my best friends, new and old, was the best part of St. Louis by far. . Cheers to Season 12 . @cryofusion @pimovementninja @kttape
“I actually got quarantined with Caleb (Bergstrom) in Florida for five weeks. And I do not live in Florida, I live in Colorado. I was there for a competition right when quarantine started. My parents, instead of having me come home, I told them I could just go to Caleb’s house for a little bit, and a little bit ended up being five weeks. And their gym was closed, so we were just training constantly. That’s all we were doing. We were just eating and training with Caleb. And he’s crazy strong. And Ashley (McConville) and Katie (Bergstrom).”
“(Qualifiers were) Fun. Just fun. The obstacles were perfect. They do such a great job setting up the course and making it work as a whole force, that I just was able to go and just have fun. I wasn’t trying to go fast, I wasn’t pacing or anything, I was just doing obstacles. And it was just fun. Then I got to the Mega Wall, got a little unfocused and let go of the top, but then I just cleared anyway. I didn’t make the same mistake again by missing the 14. That would have been really embarrassing, but I didn’t, so it’s okay.”
“(Semi-Finals) was definitely more focused, more, not pressure, but it was a little more intense, I guess. I was also the first one up after the lunch break, so didn’t really get to see many people go. Because I showed up, warmed up, and then went. And nobody was running while I was warming up because it was a break. So I basically ran without seeing much, and it felt like a training session where I just walk in, we set up a course, and then I just go. So that was nice, that it felt similar in that way. But it just felt good to hit a buzzer. I’ve hit more buzzers this season than my two previous seasons combined now. That’s pretty sad, but it’s pretty funny. So, it feels good.”
“Strategy for Finals is to do what I’ve been doing. Just run, do what I do, run the course. I’m good at obstacles. If I just do what I’m capable of, I’ll be in the top eight.
Winning, make it to top eight. Once we’re on the tower, be faster than whoever I’m racing. That’s the strategy. Because on the tower you can sell out if you’re behind, you can just go for the hero move. Because you’re either going to fall or win if you do it. And if you’re already behind, falling is not really that much worse.”
Fall or win it all? We’ll find out if Austin makes it to the Power Tower on next week’s American Ninja Warrior finale on November 4.