Junior competes on American ninja

Junior Ben Behrends and his father Scott have reached new heights on season 15 of American Ninja Warrior. Although this is a very unique opportunity for the 16-year-old, this is not his first rodeo. 

The first time Ben was ever on the show was episode 14 of American Ninja Warrior Junior in the age 11-12 division. The next time Ben competed he was out of the junior division. On American Ninja Warrior season 14 the entirety of his run was not shown on television. He fell on the second obstacle called Rollercoaster and did not make the top 30. 

“I went on there last year, but I fell early in the show. We got called back this year,” he said. “I’ve been training for eight years now, so I’ve been doing it for a while. You have to send in a three minute long video as your application. It’s a reality television show first before anything, you know? So if you have an interesting story and the skills, then you can get in. After that, they fly you out to the obstacle course”  

The way Ben (along with other ninjas) trains is at the Cedar Falls ninja gym. Scott owns this gym on University Avenue called Ninja\U. Every ninja gym has obstacles where aspiring ninjas can practice to prepare them for competition. If there is a new obstacle introduced, the majority of ninja gym’s will try to get their hands on it. One of the biggest advantages for the competition is experience with the obstacles of the course, and this was one of Ben’s advantages but also part of his downfall. 

He said, “The most nerve racking was the air surfer.”

Ben wasn’t familiar with the air surfer, which was part of the reason why he fell on that obstacle. The air surfer is a horizontal board with two handles attached underneath it. There are five tracks that ninjas must skip across, and each track gets progressively lower as they go. If the competitor does not keep the board centered between the tracks, then the board can get pulled off from either side. 

Out of 24 athletes to make it to the second of four final stages, Ben made it to stage two in the semifinals, where on stage two Ben went up against RJ Roman. 

“My goal was to get to stage two, which ended up happening, so I’m happy with my run. RJ is super fast, but there’s no tension between anyone; 99.9% of the ninjas are super nice and positive.”

Even though Ben fell, he remained optimistic. “If you fall, it doesn’t matter. The whole point is to keep trying and to show that you’ve bettered yourself from last year. My next goal is to get to stage three. If I get to stage three I will be very happy.”

Despite what other people say and what they think about American Ninja, Ben has a vision and he plans to follow it.

“It’s the dream,” he said. “Competing in these competitions is something really fun to do,” and

Ben said he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

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