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Coast Character: Picayune-born athlete hopes 'American Ninja Warrior' stint inspires daughters

When producers for NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" called Texas resident Jasmine Cochran to say she had been selected for the show, her jaw dropped and she began to scream.

The Picayune native, who has been an athlete her entire life, decided in January to apply for the show that leads competitors through a treacherous obstacle course. Every time her cellphone rang and a number appeared that she didn't recognize, she hoped it was "American Ninja Warrior" representatives.

On March 3, the lucky number hit her caller ID and she had just three weeks to prepare for her attempt to beat the course.

Eagerly waiting

"While I was waiting, I got into really good shape, but I didn't have access to any of the obstacles," she said. After receiving her confirmation date, it was go time.

"I was super-excited, but I woke up the next morning and thought, 'Oh man, I haven't done any of the obstacles,'" she said.

Cochran was able to train at an obstacle-course gym in Oklahoma twice, but she relied on workouts she'd created herself to prepare for the competition.

She was a track star at Picayune Memorial High School and continued the sport at Mississippi State University, so many of her workouts to prepare for 'American Ninja Workout' had a track theme.

"I did track workouts. I believe track is the foundation of all sports. Name a sport where you don't have to run, jump or throw," she said.

Careful dieting

Cochran, who works as a personal trainer at her brother's gym in Euless, Texas, also developed her own diet. She focused on gaining upper-body strength without adding extra weight.

"I was very careful about what I ate so I could be in the best condition possible going into the competition," she said.

She competed March 28 in Houston. She wasn't allowed to see the track beforehand, and she said the show is taped after the sun goes down.

"Everybody goes in blind. On top of that, you compete in the middle of the night. You're already excited and you're up all night waiting on them to call your name," she said.

If she advances, she will compete in the finals round. From there, she can qualify to go the championship round in Las Vegas. The top prize is $1 million, and in its seven seasons on American airwaves, nobody has earned the title of American Ninja Warrior.

Going for No. 1

Cochran said one her goals was to be the first to take the top prize.

She couldn't say if she's made it to the final round, but her clip will air June 8 on NBC.

She said everybody on the show was very welcoming and helpful, and she felt like part of the ninja family. She also said the show is putting more female athletes into the limelight.

"There's more and more women who are being accepted onto the show, and it's awesome to see because I myself am a huge advocate for women's empowerment. I think women are strong and amazing and powerful and oftentimes not viewed as such," she said.

She said her biggest goal is to be an inspiration to her daughters -- Judah, who's 5, and Jael, who is almost 2 years old.

She and her husband, James, live with their family in Hurst, Texas. They moved from Mississippi almost two years ago.

A star athlete

In her days at Picayune Memorial, she set the 2001 record for high jump at 5-feet 7¾ inches. She was a senior. She held the high jump title at Mississippi State University until two weeks ago, when Emily Bougard jumped 6 feet, defeating Cochran's record .

"They're made to be broken, so now I just have to go break records on 'American Ninja Warrior,'" she said.