Local teen competes on national stage

‘American Ninja Warrior’ to feature 15-year-old from Castle Rock

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After competing in the juniors category last year, 15-year-old Kaden Lebsack has made it to the big leagues. The Castle Rock teen has been selected to compete with adults on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Lebsack, who began training when he was 10, said he was excited as he has been going through the competition process on the NBC show, where he has traveled to compete at the first stop in Tacoma.

Last year, Lebsack advanced to the semifinals of the junior competition. Over the years, the Castle Rock teen has competed in professional ninja competitions nationwide as he trains at Ninja Intensity under coach John Maul.

Lebsack said being accepted to compete at the high level is a dream come true. In years past, competitors on “American Ninja Warrior” had to be 19 or older to compete.

This year, the show invited about 30 teenagers across the U.S. to try out. Lebsack was chosen as one of the finalists to move on and compete on live television.

“I started watching this show on television when I was round 10 years old,” Lebsack said. “Back then, I always said I would do it. I said I would get on the show. Now, it is like a dream come true. I have been watching for so long. Now I am finally here and it’s crazy.”

In preparing for the weekly show, producers of “American Ninja Warrior” were in Castle Rock filming Lebsack training and compiling his story for the live competition.

Lebsack, a quiet teenager, said he makes a louder impact in training and competing than he does on camera talking about himself.

When asked if he is nervous about competing with adults, Lebsack said he does not see age when it comes to professional competition.

“In the end, it is about who puts in the time and effort and can compete,” he said. “This sport is a lot harder than it looks.”

To focus on training between three and five hours per day, Lebsack has moved to online schooling. The teenager said he plans to compete as long as he can.

“I want to be able to do this forever,” he said. “Or as long as my body will let me.”

A future dream is for professional ninja competitions to be included as an event in the Olympics, Lebsack said.

“American Ninja Warrior” returns this summer for Season 13 on NBC. The new season begins on May 31.

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