During season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, Jesse Labreck added a few more items to her list of accomplishments by completing a second 10-obstacle course, making the top eight for the entire season, and advancing to the Power Tower playoffs. This was just the latest gem in her Ninja Warrior crown. So where did all this success begin?
The season eight Philadelphia Qualifiers has introduced us to rookie Jesse Labreck. Her run to the Rolling Thunder raised eyebrows. We might have something on our hands here. Jesse became part of the “Fantastic Four,” the four women who qualified for the City Finals. (The other three were Michelle Warnky, Rachael Goldstein, and Allyssa Beird.)
But it was Jesse’s City Finals run that put jaws on the floor and formally announced her campaign to dominate the sport. Let’s break it down!
Jesse’s thoughtful competition style was evident from the start. She didn’t fling herself across the Floating Steps. She landed each one with purpose and steadied herself before moving on.
On the Log Grip, there was a split second when the first drop gave Jesse a rattle. You can see here how close she came from losing her leg-grip on the log. After this, she immediately hauled herself up so the second drop wouldn’t shake her off.
After surviving that close call, Jesse debuted one of her classic facial expressions. It’s a fifty-fifty mixture of disgust and relief. It’s a look we’ll get to see more of as her career goes forward!
Jesse nailed the Paddle Boards but still gave herself a little toss over the finish line, just to be sure no last-second hiccups could end her run.
Between the trampoline and the awkward exit, the Wall Drop was a swamp of dangers. Jesse hit the trampoline just right and took several extra swings. This allowed her to build enough momentum to simply drape her leg over the wall and continue on.
Now Jesse was back at the Rolling Thunder. The obstacle ended her run in Qualifying. This time around, she plotted out every move, making sure she’d be as efficient as possible.
We were SO worried for her as she neared the end of the track. With her arms outstretched, it looked like Jesse wouldn’t have the strength to roll the cylinder again. She contemplated a dismount from too far away, eyeing the landing pad when we knew she was at high risk of not clearing the gap. But, she found just enough in the tank to inch closer to the platform and became the first woman to complete the obstacle.
With that, Jesse was energized. A huge hurdle was behind her and she sailed up her very first Warped Wall. The crowd exploded as she promptly continued to the back half of the course. (I’ll never forget the crew on the sidelines looking at one another and nodding in approval as this happened. They knew she was the real deal.)
There’s not much to say about the Salmon Ladder. She did it.. perfectly.
Jesse executed the Flying Shelf Grab with a shocking amount of power and stamina considering how many obstacles she’d already completed.
After completing that challenge, Jesse gave us the first sign that she was experiencing fatigue. She paused to lean over, catching her breath before starting the ninth obstacle.
The Stair Hopper required an intense level of precision and accuracy. Remember, no one, not even Geoff Britten or Joe Moravsky, would complete this course. Many of the falls happened on this exact obstacle.
Jesse was looking strong. This screenshot is from the moment directly before her fall. She’s actually in a great position. The bar is even and both sides are solidly on the track. As you watch, it’s like Jesse’s hands simply open and she falls straight down. It looks like the jolt of the fall or maybe just muscle fatigue opened her hands.
But with that, Jesse became the first woman in American Ninja Warrior history to qualify for the National Finals in her rookie season.
And we all knew we had seen the first moments of a Ninja Warrior career that would only skyrocket with each passing season.