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Local ninja-in-training takes on ninja world series in Las Vegas

By Garrett Ammesmaki,


Levi Kingsbury of Lennox traveled to Nevada over the weekend of July 22 to take part in the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association World Series Finals.

Levi squared off against 200 kids from around the world at the Orleans Event Center in Las Vegas. While there, the 11-year-old got to brush shoulders with his heroes and get a taste of his dream to become a real American Ninja Warrior.

He took on around 12 metal courses that varied in range of obstacles, but all with their own degrees of difficulty. Levi’s favorite was called “The Little Dipper,” in which he had to climb a bar, hold it down a slide, and then transfer to another bar with a leap.

Placing in the top 20 would have allowed him a chance to compete on the American Ninja Warrior Junior television show.

“I was a little nervous to start out with,” Levi said, “but when I got on the course, I got more confident.”

He said that confidence came from completing obstacles and the sound of the crowd as they cheered him on. Some of his friends were at the competition as well.

Although the kids were supposed to be competing against each other, at the end of the day, they were only competing against themselves, said Shane Kingsbury, Levi’s father.

“The camaraderie between them was great,” he said. “It was hard for them not to cheer each other on.”

Due to his stature, Levi wasn’t able to complete some of the obstacles — one involved jumping from a trampoline to climbing rings. Unlike the television show, a contestant isn’t disqualified for not completing an obstacle.

“He couldn’t reach a few hoops to finish the course, so he lost a lot of points,” Shane said.

Ultimately, Levi placed 59th in his age group. But he was able to place 16th in a world record course. They don’t know how many people attempted the record, but Shane said one of the judges came to Levi afterward to remark how fast he was.

While anyone present could take on the world record obstacle, getting to finals was no small feat.

“Not just anyone off the street can compete in finals,” Shane said. “To make it, Levi had to qualify against some pretty tough kids.”

Levi took second in regionals to qualify for the Las Vegas competition. He faced off against kids from the five-state area, including competitors from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Levi trained four years for the competition, the last seven months he trained with Drew Nester at 605 Ninja in Sioux Falls.

“Levi’s a beast,” Nester said. “He’s kind of a little guy, but he’s got a lot of power and a lot of determination, and he works really hard.”


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