On night two of the season 13 American Ninja Warrior Semifinals, viewers were greeted by a welcome sight. The episode started off with a rookie. A woman who was ready to battle her way almost all the way down the extended course. That was Rachel Degutz. And you’re going to want to remember her.
Rachel was one of only seven competitors to overcome the daunting new eighth obstacle, Padlock. Reaching the ninth obstacle on the Semifinals course is a milestone in any Ninja career. Doing it as a rookie puts a competitor in an elite class.
We asked Rachel to walk us through her stunning run. She shared her thoughts with us a few weeks after her Semifinals run, as she was preparing for the National Finals.
“During my Semifinals run, I was taking things one obstacle at a time. Looking at what I had to do to get through the obstacle. Focusing on that and only that. I was focused on what was right in front of me. What I had to do. Trusting my movements.
My third attempt on the Warped Wall, I trusted that I would get up there. After my second attempt, I was like, ‘Alright! Higher first step!’ Then I was up there.”
“During Padlock, they had just shown it to us. I was still trying to figure out how it worked! I remember on the second one, I had to move it so slowly. I was like, ‘Patience, Rachel. Patience.’ On the last Padlock, I forgot that it moved so it almost threw me off. But I was able to hold on and was like, ‘I gotta get off this thing.”
Reaching the ninth obstacle, Rachel was faced with a choice. Would she take the Inverter, a confusing upper body torture chamber, or the Tuning Forks, which were basically a roll of a dice in terms of success? Here are her thoughts on the decision.
“I felt like I put a lot of mental energy into gritting out the eighth obstacle. I didn’t feel confident in doing that again. I’ve been training a lot of sketchy balance obstacles like the Tuning Forks. I needed to be 100% confident heading into the Tuning Forks. Before I knew it, I was spinning around on that thing. Then I was in the water.”
Rachel picked the Tuning Forks and ended her run there. But it put her in seventh-place overall for the night, at the top of the women’s leaderboard, and into the National Finals. We asked her what she expects from herself in Las Vegas.
“I always try to come in expecting a positive outcome. I think I’m totally capable of clearing Stage One. I’m expecting to hit a buzzer. I know I’m capable of it and I’m ready to do it.
This season has literally been a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be on American Ninja Warrior ever since I found out about the show. This was my third year applying and I finally got cast this year. I feel like having to wait a little bit to be cast just made the experience so much more special and meaningful to me.”
Rachel will make her bid for a Stage One buzzer when American Ninja Warrior heads to the National Finals.