Looks like Las Vegas should begin preparing for a Kansas City ninja invasion.
In a grueling Kansas City finals round of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” Monday night, three of the four local competitors qualified to move on to the national finals in Las Vegas and the chance to compete for a $1 million cash prize.
With a monumental showing, Mitchell VeDepo of Mission placed first, and Alex Carson and Donovan Metoyer of Kansas City finished among the top 15 male competitors making their way through the obstacle course set against the backdrop of Union Station. But Independence mom, school teacher and “Ninja Warrior” veteran Annie Dudek did not make the cut among women.
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VeDepo, dubbed “The Science Ninja,” is a bioengineering doctoral student and Children’s Mercy researcher and says he brings a cerebral approach to his obstacle course runs. Carson, with his strongest run in his three seasons, placed ninth. And Metoyer, “The Classy Ninja” who competes in a suit, was participating in his first regional finals in five attempts.
In a rather stunning “Ninja Warrior” night, none of the competitors could complete the 10-obstacle course and reach the buzzer, though VeDepo came close. This is only the second time in the show’s nine year history that that’s happened.
Carson was the first local ninja to be featured on the show, which was filmed in April. With another Alex — Chiefs starting quarterback Alex Smith — his girlfriend, mom and dad and “Team Alex” contingent in the audience cheering him on, the 30-year-old manufacturing engineer was also given an NBC bio that delved into Carson’s shy beginning and love for the tuba:
“I’m not only hitting the buzzer, I’m hitting the right notes,” Carson said in the feature. And though he didn’t quite hit the buzzer, Carson did make it the farthest he’s been: “They’re chanting ‘Alex!’ and they’re not talking about Smith,” said co-host (and former NFL player) Akbar Gbaja-Biamila.
In his bio package, VeDepo said “Ninja Warrior” has been a way for him to maintain a bond with his girlfriend, who has attended each of VeDepo’s “Ninja Warrior” runs all over the country the past few years, despite their long-distance relationship.
VeDepo made it to the final stages of the final course, coming within a few feet of beating the final obstacle, the “Elevator Climb,” and reaching the buzzer.
“Hands down the Science Ninja just had the run of the night,” said co-host Matt Iseman.
Metoyer and Dudek were not featured on the show’s broadcast.
All four had made it past the first KC qualifying round, which aired in July and was also filmed in April.
Things will only get tougher from here. Until this point, moving on in the competition has depended on how far or how fast the ninjas could go on the obstacle course. To win the title at the national finals, however, ninjas must complete each of the course’s four stages, including the show’s final obstacle: “Mount Midoriyama,” a daunting 75-foot rope climb.
The first Vegas national finals episode will air at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, on NBC.