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Alyssa Varsalona on her return to Ninja Warrior: ‘I know I’m ten times stronger.’

She’s put in the work to make this season her best.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

On night three of American Ninja Warrior’s Qualifiers, the top spot on the women’s leaderboard went to Alyssa Varsalona (she also made the top 30).

During her run to the fifth obstacle, Pretzel Twist, Alyssa made it look easy with a straightforward progression through the obstacles. Behind the scenes, those few minutes were a culmination of years of work and recovery.

“I’ve had five knee surgeries. I’ve torn my ACL four times, resulting in five surgeries. I never thought I’d get the chance to come back to competitive sports. I just want to share that, if you’re an athlete, if you’ve had an injury, don’t lose hope. Don’t give up on it. You can get back to sports. Whether it’s the same sport you did before or a completely new sport like American Ninja Warrior was for me.”

Thinking of all those surgeries changes the perspective on Alyssa’s run. She’s fearless, even knowing what an injury could mean.

“I competed in Atlanta in season 11. I have really ramped up my training,” Alyssa told us. “I have been training with my coach, Michael Johnson. He is a great coach. He’s been pushing me hard. We’ve been doing a lot of courses. A lot of endurance stuff.”

We spoke with Alyssa prior to her Qualifying run. She was calm and focused. Alyssa felt prepared because she knew she’d done the work.

“In season 11, I literally had no expectations. It was my first time, but I ended up doing really well. I fell on the fifth obstacle and I had one more move before I could have made the dismount. I was super close to the Warped Wall. It’s been two years since then. I know I’m ten times stronger. I have better endurance. I have better grip strength. I 100% know that I have the strength and the technique to hit a buzzer. I’m ready.”

Alyssa missed the buzzer by one obstacle but she’ll return for the Semifinals, giving her another chance at course completion.