WEST POINT — This Cuming County community showed up in force Monday night to watch their so-called “Nebraska farm girl” whiz through the obstacles as a contestant on “American Ninja Warriors.”
Leigh Jahnke, 19, grew up working on the family farm, which might have helped her prepare for the national network television show on NBC.
The 2018 West Point-Beemer High School graduate also competed in gymnastics, basketball, pole vaulting and wrestling before winning a chance to compete on “American Ninja Warriors.”
West Point residents who have watched Jahnke grow up over the years were eager to gather to watch her performance on the taped airing of the TV program shown at the West Point Community Theatre.
Jahnke spoke to the audience prior to the showing.
“I feel happy,” she said. “It was a real fun experience. You are my supporters, my coaches and teammates, family and friends. I hope I won’t disappoint you.”
Those in the watch party in the theater cheered, clapped and waved their arms whenever “the Nebraska farm girl” was mentioned and during her performance on the 25 foot-screen.
“For our neighbor girl, we didn’t know she could do all this,” said Kathy Schoch. “We hoped she could go all the way. We think she did pretty good.”
She made it to the third obstacle, becoming the first woman in her age group to do so.
Levi Mckay, 13, said he wants to go with her and train.
“I think it would be really cool,” Levi said. “There’s something about being bigger than yourself.”
An NBC crew also visited the Jahnke farm several miles north of West Point for an interview and video ahead of the show. Jahnke was filmed at her farm climbing barn rafters, pitching bales, riding a horse, working cattle and swinging from an irrigation pivot.
The Jahnke family had being regular viewers of the program as it was on at a time when they came in from their farm day of work for their evening meal.
That prompted Leigh Jahnke to set a goal of being able to compete on the program, and so she applied.
In March, she was notified her participation was a possibility. In April, her participation was confirmed.
The obstacle course that aired Monday night was set up and filmed in Oklahoma City, Okla. The contestants could not see the obstacle course ahead of time.
All the Jahnkes were impressed with the friendly members of the film crew that came to the farm. The program directors really want everyone to be a winner and the contestants support each other, they said.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln student, who carries a 4.0 grade point average, said she plans to try again.