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Joe Moravsky on racing Jay Lewis: ‘As much as I love him, I can’t allow him to have a Safety Pass.’

Joe plans on taking it all this year, which means making sure he keeps the competition in check.

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Elizabeth Morris/NBC

On night two of the American Ninja Warrior season 13 Semifinals, veteran competitor Joe Moravsky was in fine form. The talk of the season has focused pretty heavily on the teens, but Joe was there to prove that he was still in the game.

After defeating the Mega Wall in the Qualifiers, Joe tore through the Semifinals course to take the second-fastest time of the night. First place went to his student, 17-year-old Jay Lewis. But Joe soundly claimed back his bragging rights when the two raced on the Power Tower. Joe bolted out to a confident lead the moment the bell rang and claimed the Safety Pass for himself.

Viewers always expect a lot from Joe Moravsky. And Joe Moravsky expects a lot from himself. What were his thoughts on facing his student and wanting it all? It’s always better to just let Joe tell you about things in his own words.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Heading into the Power Tower

“Right before we (Jay and Joe) left (Connecticut), we did an interview with our local news station. I had this little fun speed line (of obstacles) set up and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll go first. Jay, you can go after me.’

I went through and did it in like 12 and a half seconds or something. And he ends up getting through it in 12. I go again, and I get faster. Then he went again and went faster than that. I’m trying to figure out in my head why. He’s just got that young spirit and has to prove something.

So tonight, I definitely feel like I have to prove something over again. Not just to the veterans out here. We’re all getting beat up by these teens. We gotta prove a point to these teens that we’re still in this game.

Everyone would love a Safety Pass, but at the end of the day, I’m not doing it to get a Safety Pass, I’m doing it to keep it from going into his hands. That, I think is more dangerous. You give a rookie as good as Jay a Safety Pass on Stage One or Two, the chance of him falling is going to be on Stage One or Two. I feel like he’s going to shine on Stage Three. As much as I love him, I can’t allow him to have a Safety Pass.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Digesting the Semifinals

“My biggest challenge was beating my protegé. It’s not a jab at anybody else. It’s just I know how good Jay is. I’ve been training with him for well over a year. I knew I was going to have to push it if I wanted to make first place and if I wanted to make the Power Tower.

I got to obstacle nine and I saw those Tuning Forks. They looked so... Not easy. So I stuck with upper body. In order to actually feel like I was going to clear that obstacle, I had to take an extra few seconds. I could have pushed it, but I didn’t want to take that risk. I took an extra 15 seconds. And in the end, Jay beat me by about 15 seconds (for first place).

But it all went according to plan. I made the top two, which is exactly what I needed. I’ve been saying all along that my goal was not to get the Safety Pass but to avoid giving it to somebody.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Reaching the National Finals

I’m glad I have a Safety Pass. I’m not going to let it get into my head at all. I’m going to run this course in Vegas just like I don’t have it.

I feel like my confidence is one of my biggest strong suits. Out of all the Ninjas here, I’m not the strongest. I might be one of the fastest. What sets me apart? Why am I here? Why am I so good at this? What is the reason? Because I’m not better. What makes me so consistently good every year?

The key is ‘consistently.’ In order to be consistent every year, you can’t just be strong physically. There has to be a mental aspect that I think people are overlooking. Even myself. I think it comes down to believing in myself more than anybody.

You can believe in yourself but not really believe. Then there are people who believe in themselves whether it’s true or not. It doesn’t matter. They believe they can do it. I’m that type of person. It’s a legit, 100% trust in my ability.

Every year I come here and say I’m going to win it. But this year is different. This year I feel like it’s destined to happen versus I know I can. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. I’ve tried to find the right words. I feel like the pieces are finally connected. This is the time.

I have the experience. I have the confidence. I think it’s all here. It’s all ready. It’s time.”

With a coveted Safety Pass in hand, Joe Moravsky is off to Stage One of the American Ninja Warrior National Finals. So far, it looks like his plans are falling nicely into place.