Little ready for second chance at American Ninja Warrior show


Jason Little of Mayfield grabs onto the edge of a wheel with just his fingertips at Albany Ninja Lab earlier in the month as he prepares to try out for American Ninja Warrior Season 14 on Monday, March 21, 2022 at the AlamaDome in San Antonio.

ALBANY — Jenson Little of Mayfield is a soft spoken 27-year-old physical therapist during the day — but at night he twists, turns, jumps, leaps, grabbing onto walls, handles and more — as a Ninja.

He is far from being considered a creature of the night like the latest Batman saga in movie theaters, instead he trains at the Albany Ninja Lab traversing through obstacles and testing his own limits for the past three years.

Little will have his second chance to try out for the physically demanding hit TV show, American Ninja Warrior Monday in San Antonio. 

“This means a lot to me, I get another shot to prove myself,” Little said. “The first time I competed was before this gym was built a few years ago so I had never really trained. I went on the show thinking, you know, why not? And I fell off the second obstacle. So not, not my best.”

Little will join more than 100 other Ninja competitors during the second day of qualifying. On Sunday he expected to be a spectator cheering on two other local competitors — Emily Holmes from Niskayuna and Andre Patnode from Ballston Lake — who also made the trip to San Antonio.

Little said he was in awe of the competition and the course during his first tryout three years ago.

“There’s definitely a lot of people, there are a lot of cameras, a lot of lights,” Little said. “I think it is important to focus on just you and the course. You have four minutes on that course and this could be your only opportunity to do it. So just one obstacle at a time, think about what you’re doing to get through.”

The top qualifiers from the AlamoDome will advance to the semifinals at Universal Studios Hollywood April 8 to 11 with the national finals being taped May 14 to 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We won’t know how Little or the local competitors fared — whether they advanced after this week’s events or not — until Season 14 begins airing later in the summer. All competitors have signed a strict non-disclosure agreement.

The AlamoDome course has five obstacles and finishes with the American Ninja Warrior Warp Wall, a 14.5-foot tall wall at a 45 degree angle. The goal is to complete all five obstacles and then run up and leap to the top of the warp wall, grabbing onto a hold there and hitting the buzzer to stop the race clock.

Little didn’t make it close to the Warp Wall during his first tryout, but has his sights set on it.

“I think if I didn’t have that experience I might not have been as fueled in my training these past few years,” Little said. “I knew when I jumped into it the first time that I dove a little bit deep over my head. I knew I had a long way to go in my training and that really pushed me to train harder and work on big moves.”

Little hopes to have nerves of steel this time around.

“[Last time]  I actually had to run right after Megan Martin, who is one of the strongest female competitors and that made me really nervous,” Little said. “I didn’t have anyone I knew on my sideline, but now I have friends who are competing. I know a lot of the community from training with them and that just makes me feel so much.

“Now I’ve been training for three years and I feel like I’m a lot stronger. I know what I’m doing and I could probably do a lot better this year.”

By Stan Hudy

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