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Aidan Welsh, an eighth grader at St. Croix Prep in Stillwater, will appear in the March 20 episode of ‘American Ninja Warrior Junior.’ (Photo by: Eddy Chen/Universal Kids)

Aidan Welsh, an eighth grader at St. Croix Prep in Stillwater, trained hard in an attempt to make it on the first season of “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”

After applying but not making the cut, what did he decide to do?

Train even harder.

“My dream is to be on the adult American Ninja Warrior,” Welsh said, who is also a downhill skier and track athlete. “The sadness of not making it in the first season made me train even harder, and it really paid off.”

Welsh’s effort got him a trip to Los Angeles to compete on season two of “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” a version of the primetime TV show for age groups ranging from 9 to 14. He competed with 191 other ninja warriors in the summer of 2019, and will be featured in an episode on Universal Kids at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20.

“I like that it challenges me mentally and physically,” Welsh said of competing as a ninja warrior. “You can have all the right strength to do the course, but you can have just one mental slip up and not complete it. So it really is an all-encompassing sport.”

Welsh said that after getting his first taste of Ninja Warrior obstacle courses at a friend’s birthday party at a training gym, he wanted to take it more seriously. It took many hours of after-school gym sessions to get to where he is now. He even built some obstacles in his room for home training, and trained in the snow to earn the title of “Winter Ninja” on the show.

While he can’t quite share yet how he finished in the competition, Welsh admitted that he felt quite a bit of pressure competing at such a high level. “A normal competition doesn’t have a lot of pressure, but when I got there and saw all of the cameras, there was a lot of pressure,” he said. “But it was a really fun experience out there.”

Welsh’s time in Los Angeles allowed him to do some fun activities outside of the Ninja Warrior competition, such as visiting Santa Monica Beach and riding electric scooters through downtown. However, he said that his most memorable experience was receiving the phone call out of roughly 13,000 applicants to compete as a junior ninja warrior.

“Just getting a chance to compete in the show was super cool,” Welsh said.

His mother, Christine Welsh, agrees.

“I think one thing he’s learned from this is that failure is part of the process and that you need to get right back up again,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of him for working hard and never giving up on his dream.”

Kevin Ott can be reached at kevin.ott@apgecm.com

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