CEDAR FALLS — In Monday’s “American Ninja Warrior” episode, you might be forgiven for missing the run by Scott Behrends. It was relegated to just a shot of him hitting the buzzer, not his full run.
But when the Cedar Falls man watched it on NBC on Monday, surrounded by supporters inside his Ninja U gym in Cedar Falls, he felt the love regardless of the amount of screen time he got.
“When I saw myself — that little clip — hitting that buzzer again, it just brought back that same emotion of when I did hit the buzzer,” Behrends said. “That celebration — tearing up as I looked down at my family, and now everybody’s cheering for me at the gym — it brought that all back.”
Behrends, 38, was just happy he completed the course, which included five obstacles and the famous Warped Wall, during his trip to Tacoma, Washington, in May. Only 13 competitors out of 97 who ran the course completed it.
“It all looked pretty doable,” he said. “But when you get all the lights and the cameras and the water, and knowing you’re going to be on TV, it’s a lot of pressure.”
Competitors on the show are rewarded for speed: The top 30 competitors make it to the next round, not just those who hit the buzzer, so the fastest ones to the farthest obstacles get those extra spots. Plus, those who push themselves and go for the show’s Mega Wall are rewarded with extra prize money — and the two fastest get to compete in the head-to-head Power Tower, which rewards the winner with a bye round for the next qualifier.
But speed also leads to falls. So Behrends took his time, even pausing between obstacles to wave to his kids or pump up the crowd.
“My thought process is, I’m a 38-year-old dad who, number one, doesn’t want to get injured,” he said. “Number two, I can’t compete with guys literally half my age. Number three, I know my level — if I would go too fast, maybe I make a mental mistake and fall in the water.”
You have free articles remaining.
Two obstacles were new to “American Ninja Warrior” — the Lunatic Ledges and the Barrel Roll — and both together took out about 40% of the field, with the Ledges taking out 24 competitors alone.
“I will say the Barrel Roll was incredibly fun, and I couldn’t wait to get on it. It’s a big swing and throws you in the air, and I really enjoy that part,” Behrends said. “The Lunatic Ledges looked way more intimidating than it was; I attacked it pretty aggressively.”
The Lightning Bolts, the obstacle right before the Warped Wall, knocked out the most competitors, at 25.
“It’s such a finicky obstacle it was taking out a lot of people,” Behrends said. “That was, by far, the hardest and trickiest.”
Calling himself an “overthinker,” Behrends said it was good fortune he was one of the first competitors to run the course early in the evening.
“I’m all for watching a few people do it and see about tips and tricks,” he said. “I actually just like to hit it right away and not have too much time to think about it.”
Behrends called the whole experience “a dream” that was “way better than you ever expected.” And because he moved on, he’ll get to live that dream again in approximately six weeks, when the Seattle/Tacoma City Finals airs — which he taped the day after the qualifier and can’t yet discuss.
“Just that whole community around me, and ‘Ninja Warrior,’ and the gym — that support — I’m just very humbled and grateful for that,” he said.