CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) - Eastern Iowa will be well represented in the national competition of intense obstacles. American Ninja Warrior will gain four local ninjas who have been training for years at a Cedar Falls ninja gym.
Chris Behrends of Clarksville, Levi Enright from Plainfield, Nick Hanson from Cedar Falls, and Hudson's Jackson Twait will be competing for the $1 million prize.
This will be Twait's third season in a row competing. He and another Cedar Falls resident made it through last season.
"I got super emotional because it's been like two years of working out for it and the past like eight years of actually watching the show," competitor Levi Enright said.
The four competitors have been training at Ninja U in Cedar Falls for years. Next Wednesday, the group will fly out to start the competition. Each of them are thrilled to have been chosen and excited to get started.
"Just seeing all the ninjas there competing at the same time, seeing all the friends I haven't seen in a while, and just meeting new people as well. And competing of course," competitor Chris Behrends said.
Behrends is the nephew of the Cedar Falls ninja gym owner Scott Behrends, and has been fascinated with the sport ever since it opened in 2018.
This next season will look a bit different than the last one. There will be about 400 contestants this year, while last year it was cut down to about 150 due to the pandemic. The audience will continue to be virtual.
"You're still going to have that adrenaline rush, I'll still have tunnel vision, and like just be super focused, and I think it'll play a small factor, but I don't think it'll be that big of a deal," competitor Nick Hanson said.
Representing their hometowns and eastern Iowa as a whole has helped them prepare for the journey.
"They're supporting me throughout the whole journey and they're going to be watching me while I'm competing too, so I feel super happy being able to represent my town, community, and stuff like that," Enright said.
All of the competitors will be fighting for the same prize. Some already thinking about what they will do with the money.
“Eat a lot of junk food that I haven’t eaten in a while and maybe buy a new car," Behrends said.
“Pay for the rest of college and then probably put a lot of it in savings,” Hanson said.
“Open my own gym somewhere and invest the rest of it and just be smart with it," Enright said.
The group of friends are excited about going into this competition for the first time, and are even happier for the opportunity to do it together.
"I'm excited. It's going to be really fun. It's going to be nice having my friends on the sidelines cheering me on as well," Behrends said.
American Ninja Warrior is expected to premiere at the end of May, and it will air on KWWL.