Castle Rock teen gets within feet of $1M

Kaden Lebsack treasures experience on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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In a record-breaking season, Castle Rock teen Kaden Lebsack came up just short of earning the $1 million grand prize as he was the last one standing in the 13th season of “American Ninja Warrior.”

Lebsack did win $100,000 for strength and agility.

In the Sept. 13 finale, Lebsack continued to shock viewers as he zoomed through Stages 2 and 3 in his quest to have a shot at Stage 4. Lebsack broke the record of not only being the youngest ever to complete Stage 3 but was also the first rookie to do so.

“Being the only rookie to ever complete Stage 3, I know I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for my coach, John Maul,” Lebsack said. “He has trained me since I was 10 years old. He has put a lot of time and dedication into my training.”

After the Stage 3 competition, Lebsack was the only ninja left standing, earning his opportunity to proceed to Stage 4, where the only thing standing between him and $1 million was a 75-foot rope climb, which he had to do in 30 seconds or less.

With the country watching, Lebsack started the climb quickly, hitting the 30-foot mark, then 40, and then he ran out of steam. Getting near the 50-foot mark, climing about 15 more feet, Lebsack ran out of time, missing becoming a teenage millionaire by just over 10 feet.

After the show, Lebsack said, “I am super happy to complete Stage 3, but I will not be content until I conquer Stage 4. The rope climb was harder than I thought it was going to be. I really didn’t have a good technique. It will be something I will be working on now.”

In the 13th season of “American Ninja Warrior,” Lebsack, at 15, was the first teenage ninja to ever compete on the final stage. This was the first season teenagers were allowed to compete alongside adults. Lebsack outlasted 17 other teenage competitors.

Lebsack breezed through the season with ease, showing that the discipline is not about age, but about training. On the finale, Lebsack’s parents Ryan and Brandi said he started wanting to become a ninja when he was 8.

The couple opened a training facility in Castle Rock to allow Lebsack to train full time. Ryan said his son has remained dedicated to the dream of becoming a Ninja Warrior, training “like an Olympian.”

Lebsack said competing will always be a memorable experience because he was able to compete alongside veteran ninjas whom he has respected for years.

“It was amazing to get their support and have them cheering me on,” he said.

In looking at the future, Lebsack said he and Stage 4 still have unfinished business, and if the show asks him back, he will return.

“I want to compete in Ninja as long as my body allows,” he said.

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