They’re not talking. Ask Jon Alexis Jr. and Jesse Labreck – both Waterville-area natives – how they did on the taping of the NBC sports reality show “American Ninja Warrior,” and they simply won’t say.

In the end, it’s the experience and their competitive natures that really matter.

“Personally, I dislike spoilers anyway, so it makes it easy for me,” said Alexis, of Waterville. “You develop a set of things you can say. It’s almost like a little game.”

“American Ninja Warrior,” in its ninth season, holds six regional qualifying events, running entrants through obstacles that require strength, agility, endurance and guile – to be completed in a certain amount of time.

In the Cleveland finals, which aired Monday night after being recorded in May, Alexis and Labreck – a native of the Waterville suburb of Oakland – were among 15 athletes who qualified for the national finals in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas event was taped in late June.

Labreck, 26, a former track and field star at the University of Maine, was the top female finisher in Cleveland.

“I was surprised at how hard the eighth obstacle was,” said Labreck, who was one of the 20 competitors eliminated by the Nail Clipper, a new obstacle. In the Clipper, competitors must work through four rolling gears that are suspended over a pool of water.

“That one zapped my energy really fast,” said Labreck. “That was the one surprise this time.”

Alexis, who finished fourth overall and had the fastest time through the first seven obstacles, also was eliminated by the Clipper. Only two competitors finished the course.

“I was expecting to go fast. I didn’t see too many obstacles where I would have to go slow,” said Alexis, 28, who is completing his electrical engineering degree at the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology. “It surprised me how many people fell out on the Nail Clipper. It’s a large span of obstacles and people with all different types of skill sets went down on it. That was pretty tough.”

Nicknamed “The Giant” on the show, Alexis is 6-foot-6. He said his size presents challenges.

“Carrying around more weight, it’s easier to tire your muscles out,” Alexis said. “You have to have decent endurance. With my hands and fingers being large, it’s harder to develop those tendons without being into rock climbing a lot. On (some obstacles) those kind of grips are tough.”

Alexis often mugs for the camera, including one obstacle where he looked at an overhead camera and winked while crossing the I-Beam Gap. In that obstacle, competitors work their way down a large metal beam from underneath, using hands and feet. The ledges of the beam vary in size throughout the run, which add to the difficulty.

Alexis believes the show captures his personality.

“I’d say a lot of it is me,” said Alexis, who was eliminated by the I-Beam Gap during a qualifying run earlier in the season. “I’m more comfortable now with the cameras and the crowd. I’m a pretty goofy dude and I like to think I’m funny. Hopefully, I am.”

Alexis and Labreck – who by contrast appears focused and serious during runs – agree experience is important.

“I really upped my training this year,” said Labreck, who became the second woman to complete a course during the Cleveland qualifier. “Dating someone who does “American Ninja Warrior,” that helps. Improving my grip strength helps. But any experience on the obstacles really helps. I would say the experience on obstacles is the biggest thing.”

Although with physical strength, athletes must be strong mentally.

Labreck, who manages a gym in Naperville, Illinois, relies on her record-setting career at UMaine for that mental edge.

“If you ask certain Ninjas, they’ll say it’s more mental than physical,” Labreck said. “Something always ends up happening (on the course), and a lot of people let it get to them. My track experience with (Coach) Dave Cusano at UMaine – he mentally prepared us before every season for track, so we were mentally preparing while we were physically preparing and getting stronger. I have that experience. That’s really what’s helped me.”

The finals will be televised Aug. 23-24 on NBC.

“I’d only tell you (what happened) if I wanted to get into big trouble with NBC,” Labreck said with a laugh.