American Ninja Warrior season 13 came to a dramatic close when Kaden Lebsack became the Last Ninja Standing on Stage Four.
Before Kaden cleared Stage Three, the Ninja in position for the $100,000 prize was Austin Gray. Austin put together a strong run to Eyeglass Alley that capped off a fantastic year of accomplishments for him. He even had the Safety Pass which he ended up not needing.
That meant for the second season in a row, Austin is the year’s “runner-up.” During season 12, Austin fell short of the top title in the final Power Tower race against Daniel Gil.
Austin is so close to winning American Ninja Warrior that he must be able to taste it, and that deserves some major credit. We asked Austin to walk us through the National Finals from his perspective.
“It was probably the best run of my entire life. I did the best job not overworking or over gripping. I was relaxed and finished the run not even breathing hard. My mouth wasn’t dry. We’re in a desert. Everyone is like, breathing blood when they finish, but I felt amazing. I just want to keep that flow and rhythm going into Stage Two.
I don’t want to use the Safety Pass. It doesn’t really matter. I can do Stage Two in one try. I know I’m strong enough to. I’m keeping the Safety Pass to put on my backpack when the season is over.”
Going into Stage Two
“I feel great right now. No nerves. It’s kinda hard to eat. That’s about it. This happened to me all of last season and all of this season. Day of a course run, it’s hard to eat and hard to keep food down. Nerves kind of are there. But every time it starts happening, I just have to remember I literally have two tries.”
How it feels to come in second twice in a row
“Second place twice shows consistency, especially once on the Power Tower playoff and once on Stage Three. It means I’m really well-rounded and that’s good. But I definitely don’t feel as good about second this time around.
Last year it felt amazing to get second. This year I felt like I stepped it up big time and got the same result. But my Vegas performance was definitely better than my finals performance last season. I felt stronger and even more focused, just not enough to take first this year.
Now I have a much clearer idea about what I need to do for the next year to be back and in first.”
But this season still means everything to him
“This season has meant more opportunities to spread Share Your Spare. More opportunities to keep wearing the shirt and keep representing it. Every run I run is another chance to do that. I don’t take that for granted and keep taking advantage of it for Share Your Spare.”
Talk about motivation. We have no doubt Austin will be back next season, hungrier than ever to win it all.