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Brian Burkhardt is enjoying a ‘breakout’ season

He’s grabbed our attention and doesn’t plan on letting go.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

The first night of the American Ninja Warrior Semifinals taught us a very important lesson: Never underestimate Brian Burkhardt.

The lawyer returned for his fifth season of competition ready to grab our attention. In the Semifinals, he did just that.

“I finished second overall with my first Semifinals buzzer. The experience was really incredible. I felt really strong going in, but I can’t say the results still didn’t shock me. I’m still getting used to it, like it’s not even real.”

To add to the dramatic effect, Brian hit his nose on the fifth obstacle, Wall to Wall, resulting in a cut that bled for the rest of his run. Brian told us not to worry. “After hitting my face, I’ve had some time to recover. It’s actually not that bad. It looked worse on TV.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

That incredible experience resulted in a trip to the Power Tower to face Daniel Gil for the Safety Pass. Daniel became the season 12 champion by winning on the Power Tower three times in a row. Brian had never tried the vertical obstacle course before. However, intimidation was not on his mind prior to the race.

“I feel great coming into the Power Tower!” Brian shared. “I’m excited to take on Daniel Gil. Daniel is one of the greatest competitors both inside and out. I’m really fortunate to have such a capable competitor to go against. I don’t expect to compete against anyone who’s average so I’m glad I have the best one.”

And the race favored Brian in a striking way. Daniel got hung up on part of the course, allowing Brian to move swiftly and confidently into the lead, landing him the Safety Pass, not that he can remember any of that.

“The Power Tower is an incredible experience. Your heart is racing at the bottom before you hear that starting buzzer. It’s just a blur. It goes by so quickly. In 30 seconds, the whole thing is done. It’s a pretty incredible rush.”

Season 13 marks Brian’s fifth year of competition, and he’s ready to say it. This is his breakout year.

“I’m probably the lightest I’ve ever been. I’m probably the strongest I’ve ever been. I’m looking to hit that Stage Four buzzer.

Being my fifth year competing, I’ve always felt like I was one obstacle away from that buzzer. Falling early on Stage One. Or just at the end of Stage Two. Really, this year has meant so much, certainly, the word breakthrough comes to mind. I think it’s going to carry me through these stages in Las Vegas. Keep that momentum.”

Brian will hit the course once again in the American Ninja Warrior season 13 National Finals.