When Francisco Barajas had his chance to shine on American Ninja Warrior, he wanted to make sure that spotlight was shared. Fans saw Francisco make it to the Padlock on night three of the Semifinals while wearing a shirt that said, “One Percent Ninja.” That was to reflect that Francisco is part of the one percent of the population that has a stutter. But Francisco wasn’t there alone.
“Obviously, I wanted to hit a buzzer, but that didn't happen. Luckily, I did well enough for National Finals. That was pretty cool,” Francisco told us.
“This season has meant a lot to me because not only have a got to pursue one of my childhood dreams, but I got to do it with two of my training partners, Jose Gomez and Brian Montagnese. My best friends. We’ve done everything together. We went to Tacoma and Semifinals together.”
Just check out some of the love between these three friends. It’s pretty darn heartwarming.
With his two best buds cheering him on Francisco powered through to the eighth obstacle. But his speed to get there assured him a spot in the next round. Turns out, Francisco himself was a little surprised by the performance. We asked him to tell us about the most memorable moment on the course and he couldn’t help but laugh.
“Probably the three obstacles in the Semifinals that I should have been taken out on. The balance was a close call. The Salmon Ladder was a close call. The Ring Chaser was a really close call. I honestly don’t think I should have gotten past any of those three obstacles. Somehow, I managed to do it.”
That sense of wonder carried over into his preparations for Las Vegas.
“I didn’t even expect to get here! I’m just here to have a good time. It was more mental. I didn’t prep too much physically. I got all the training that I wanted to get done, done early on so I could taper off the week of. Relax, get my head game ready to go.”
Unfortunately, he’ll move on without his crew of friends. Brian was eliminated with his run to the Ring Chaser. Jose Gomez (who competed on his birthday) made it to Drop Zone, but also would not advance. Francisco will represent all of them when he takes on Stage One!