Students at Minnesota State University, Mankato got to compete for the title of “Kato Ninja Warrior” Thursday, April 6.
The event, which was based on the popular television show American Ninja Warrior, showcased an obstacle course for contestants to run through. The preliminary round was held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and the 15 participants who took the least time to complete the course got to advance to the main event at 8 p.m.
Inspiration for the event came from a YouTube video of a father who created an obstacle course for his daughter. Dustin Slaughter, the Special Events Chair and Board Member of the Student Events Team, said that he has always wanted to do an event on campus that hasn’t been done before.
“This was one of those,” he said. “So I took it and I ran with it and turned it into a reality. The show is huge. A lot of people know about it and want to see what it’s like live.”
And a lot of people did want to see it, with over 500 people attending to watch the main event. All the contestants showed a lot of determination to do their best, and both audience members and those competing cheered each person on as they went through the course.
The course itself was a mix of inflatables and obstacles meant to test your strength and dexterity. Contestants first had to go through the inflatables, which were huge, blown-up red balloons mimicking the “wipe-out balls” from the show, and an inflatable obstacle course with tunnels and a rock-climbing wall.
The strength obstacle course equipment was provided by Conquer Ninja Warrior, a company located in the Minnesota metro area that specializes in training for ninja warrior and other obstacle adventure races. The obstacles used in the competition were similar to those featured on the show, including the salmon ladder, quintuple steps, peg board, floating monkey bars, and of course the infamous warped wall, which stood at 12 feet — two and a half feet shorter than the one used on the show.
Many of the contestants were fans of the TV show and saw this as an opportunity to try out a similar course.
Most didn’t have any prior experience or training and were planning on using skills they had learned from their varied athletic backgrounds, such as Kailen McGuire, who works out five days a week and incorporates body strength exercises into her routine. McGuire made it into the top 15 and placed 12th in the final round.
The final course where the top 15 competed was different from the preliminary course and was much harder, according to Travis Goss, who placed 9th in the final round. Goss was also the first one to make it all the way through the inflatable wipe-out balls course to avoid the 30 second penalty. For those contestants who wiped out on the inflatable balls, they were allowed to continue on with a time penalty added to their ending times.
A lot of the contestants were frequent rock climbers, a fact which seemed to help them in the course, especially Moses Wakaruna, who was the first and only contestant to complete the preliminary round and make it all the way to the top of the warped wall. He made it to the final round, where he got all the way to the warped wall again, but couldn’t manage to reach the top this time and went home with 2nd place.
At the end of the night, Matthew Drosky was crowned Kato’s Ninja Warrior. The top three winners received trophies, while the other twelve contestants who made it into the top 15 all received medals and a t-shirt from the Student Events Team with the Kato Ninja Warrior logo on it.
Due to the “enormous amount of positive feedback,” Slaughter said that the Student Events Team will definitely be considering doing a similar event in the future.
“It was an amazing night, not only for the participants and audience but the Student Events Team,” said Slaughter. “I hope that [students] got to come see something that they’ve never seen before.”