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Jake Murray versus Austin Gray: The interview

Is there any rivalry as tumultuous as this one?

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Warning: This article is rife with sarcasm.

The final night of the American Ninja Warrior season 13 Semifinals brought us our last batch of National Finalists. It also brought us our final Power Tower battle, an epic crusade for the lingering Safety Pass. The combatants? Longtime nemeses Austin Gray and Jake Murray.

Jake took the fastest time of the night on the 10-obstacle course. Austin came in second by about 16 seconds. That set the stage for their heated confrontation on the Power Tower. Both are extremely talented Ninjas known for their speed. This race could go either way.

The contention between the two was palpable from the moment the match was set. We interviewed both Austin and Jake to better understand this deep-seated conflict. Here’s what they had to say prior to that race.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Austin Gray: “I feel great. My course run was everything I could have asked for. I’m ready to go fast. I love the Power Tower. I’m super excited to race Jake. We train together. He’s one of my best friends. He’s been with me my whole Ninja Warrior career, it’s really cool that we get to race each other.”

Jake Murray: “I feel really good. I didn't get too taxed from the course. I feel pretty much 100%. I’m looking forward to racing Austin. He’s a good friend of mine and a training partner, so it’s exciting. I’d bet my money on him, but I’m really excited and I love racing friends. Any Ninja really, I don’t feel much pressure, but especially with friends. It’s just fun for me.”

Shudder! The unspoken threats between the two made our blood run cold! When the starting bell rang out, the two tore through the obstacles with the ferocity of dueling lions. As the final moments of the race approached, Jake made a miscalculation that caused him to plummet to the ground forty feet below (to an airbag). Austin finished the race and roared with triumph over his fallen foe.

Here are their post-race reactions.

Austin Gray: The Power Tower was super fun. The new tower is amazing. More obstacles. More to do. You’re racing somebody, so more opportunities to lose ground or gain ground. Jake and I are training partners and friends for a long time. When they first introduced the Power Tower, I told him we would race. The prophecy was that Jake and I would end up racing. Finally fulfilled it. Which was super fun. Just being able to race Jake was a win. We cared about the Safety Pass, but it was like we had already won because we got to race each other.

We got on the shelves and basically Jake was slightly ahead but he knew that if he didn’t keep going, that I would take off because I’ve done those shelves a bunch of times. He ended up missing a shelf. As soon as I heard him hit the airbag, I walked it home.

Jake Murray: The Power Tower was awesome because I got to go up against my good friend Austin. So regardless of win or lose, I was going to be happy. That’s exactly what happened. I ended up falling on the dropping shelves. I think I really need to work on my technique because I just don’t know how to navigate those more technical obstacles. Especially when you’re in a hurry and you have to go fast. I knew I was neck and neck with him, too. I rushed it a bit and didn’t make the move.

So what will Austin do with that Safety Pass? Wave it in the face of all who question him? Use it to mock his enemies?

“You only get to keep the patch after the season ends if you don't use it. I really want to keep the patch on my backpack. The plan is to not use it so I get to keep the patch.”

Take a deep breath because both Jake Murray and Austin Gray will return to the National Finals in a few weeks. Will this querulous duo hit Stage One buzzers take their mutual acrimony to Stage Two? We’ll find out together.