Locals compete in fist round of American Ninja Warrior

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer

Two Kentuckians are gearing up to compete in the first round of one of America’s highest-rated summer television series, “American Ninja Warrior.”

Andy Harrington from Calvert City, Kentucky, and Nicole Martinez from Paducah, Kentucky, are traveling to Daytona Beach, Florida, to compete against 120 other athletes in hope of earning the title ‘American Ninja Warrior.’

Harrington, 26, works full time and takes apprentice classes in the evening, but never lets that interfere with what he is working toward accomplishing.

He trains nearly every day and said his training is so intense that he has dislocated his shoulder several times while training.

Harrington said he started training specifically for the show in May 2016 and focuses on cardio and conditioning workouts leading up to the competition.

He said what he is doing is not only about physical preparation, but also mental preparation.

“I have to think positive,” Harrington said. “At the same time I’m pretty realistic with myself, but I have to have the mindset that anything can happen.”

Harrington said friends are also a vital part of his journey; his friends initially pushed him to send his application and video to the show and continue to motivate him to keep working hard.

Jesse Treas, Harrington’s friend of three years, helped him build the equipment he trains on when he is not in a gym, because he knows achieving goals is important to Harrington.

“I like to see Andy happy, and when he is on a mission, he gives it his all and that is when I think he is the happiest- when he is achieving his goals,” Treas said.

Harrington said he wants to do well, but winning is not what he is exclusively focused on.

“I don’t care how I perform on the show; I don’t care what people think of me,” Harrington said. “I would much rather be an amazing example of the embodiment of Christ.”

Martinez, 26, is a Murray State alumna and elementary school teacher and will compete alongside Harrington April 7-8 in the Southeastern regional competition.

The first night of competition will consist of six obstacles challenging upper body strength and balance. Those who place in the top 30 will move on to the regional finals the next day, where additional obstacles will be added to the end of the course. Those who complete that course will move on to the national finals in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This will be Martinez’s second time competing; she competed in 2015, but failed to complete the second obstacle on the course, so she is committed to doing better this time around.

“I am motivated by challenge,” Martinez said. “The American Ninja Warrior and obstacle course world is extremely challenging.”

Martinez said she focuses on grip and hanging when she trains, but like Harrington, said mental strength is of just as much importance.

“It is difficult, but I just get my mind calm and peaceful before I compete,” Martinez said.

While Martinez said she is inspired by Jessie Graff, a 2013 and 2016 “American Ninja Warrior” competitor, people are likewise inspired by her.

John Veach, Martinez’s stepfather, said the dedication she has to fitness and working hard is not only inspiring to him, but also the students she teaches.

“She is a great person and has taught me a lot about life,” Veach said.

See if Harrington and Martinez make it to the show when the ninth season of “American Ninja Warrior” premiers on NBC June 12.