Meagan Martin got the monkey off her back.
At the Indianapolis finals in Monday's "American Ninja Warrior" episode, the 26-year-old climber from Boulder, Colorado, punched her own ticket to Las Vegas (i.e., qualified without needing a wild-card invitation), joining Kacy Catanzaro and Jessie Graff as the only women to achieve that feat.
Martin finished in eighth place after making it to the ninth obstacle, the Circuit Board, before her grip gave out and she hit the water. She knew she'd made a mistake early in her run and needed to fix it, but she lost her balance in the process.
"It was a little disappointing, but I'm still very pleased with my run!" Martin said via text.
It's hard not to be pleased. The former Vanderbilt pole vaulter has performed well in city qualifying rounds, hitting the buzzer in each of the past three seasons -- the only woman to do that. When it came to finals, however, she's come up short.
"It was really important to me to break that cycle," Martin said. "I really made a point to stay focused on each obstacle as I got to it and not get ahead of myself."
Martin, a member of the ninja training and rock climbing group known as the Wolfpack Ninjas, is no stranger to Vegas. After earning wild-card invitations to the finals the past two seasons, she became the first woman to complete the Jumping Spider in 2014 before stalling out at the Warped Wall. She equaled that performance again in 2015. Her success has earned her the respect of many, including ANW's biggest fans: kids.
"It means so much to me to be a role model," Martin said. "I'm the oldest of three girls, so I think I've always made decisions with setting a good example in mind. Now with 'American Ninja Warrior,' I am on a much bigger stage, so it's great to have the opportunity to show girls that they can be and do anything they put their mind to."
Indianapolis city finals specs:
Female finishers: 0
Women moving on: 1
New or modified obstacles on second half of course: 1 out of 4
We're into city finals episodes, where the first six obstacles remain the same as in each of the city qualifiers (except for a couple of tweaks). In city finals, the course builders added four obstacles on the second portion of the course (which we'll review below), bringing the total number of obstacles to 10.
The first obstacle on the second part of each city finals course so far (i.e., the seventh obstacle overall) is the Salmon Ladder. Ninjas hang from a bar and must propel themselves upward to jump the bar up a series of rungs.
The eighth obstacle in Indianapolis was the Hourglass Drop, which made its ANW premiere in Venice in 2015. It's a certified ninja killer. Ninjas hang from a bar, and then drop onto a trampoline to propel themselves to a hanging board. They must hop their hands along the unstable board, doing their best to keep it level, lest it tip and dump them into the water, before dismounting onto the platform.
The Circuit Board is the all-new ninth obstacle on this course. In both a cerebral and physical test, competitors grip two movable pieces that hang from cutouts in a board. The pieces can be taken in and out of the openings, and ninjas must slide them along the board's cutouts to maneuver to the next platform.
The Invisible Ladder returns as the 10th obstacle. So far, that's been the case on each city finals course. Ninjas grab rings suspended from a hole in a platform and pull. When their movement stops, the ring catches their weight so that it looks like they are pulling themselves up a ladder, through the hole at the top of the finishing platform.
Next week's episode features the Oklahoma City finals, which was a surprising region that saw the early exits of ninja greats Catanzaro and Lance Pekus. It should be an interesting ride!