SIDNEY – This year marked the third year that the Shelby County Fair hosted the Ninja Obstacle Fitness Challenge, loosely inspired by the popular “American Ninja Warrior” television show.
The competition first came to the fair after the organizers saw other fairs around the area running similar events and hired contractors to build a course for the Shelby County Fair.
The course consists of nine obstacles, ranging in difficulty from easy to very difficult.
The course starts with competitors running through a group of tires, climbing netting up and over a wooden framework, climbing a knotted rope and ringing the bell at the top, navigating a balance board, climbing up and over a wooden structure like a ladder, army crawling under a net, swinging across a set of monkey bars, clambering up and through a plastic corrugated pipe and finally ascending the warped wall.
The warped wall is the most difficult obstacle, a 10 or 14 foot tall wooden wall, sloped upward, that contestants must run up, grab the edge, pull themselves up and then ring a bell to end their run. Not everyone can make it up the wall, so contestants are given three tries to climb the wall and then their time is stopped.
Competitors were able to compete from many age groups, from kids just 9 years old to adults competing in the oldest division. Three divisions were set up: ages 9 to 14, ages 15 to 18 and age 19 and older.
Going into this year’s competition, one contestant really stood out, Josh York, the two-time defending champion from Russia. York is one of the only contestants to consistently conquer the warped wall and credits his success to his height of 6 feet 5 inches and his skill gained from watching YouTube videos on the subject.
York is a former college basketball player for the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Although York has won both previous years at the fair, he had some interesting competition last year in the form of his father, who came in a narrow second place.
Eight contestants qualified for the ages 9 to 14 division with two contestants qualified for the ages 15 to 18 division and five contestants qualified in the 19 and older division.
Competition was fierce in all three divisions, with some contestants reaching times within seconds of each other. Most contestants did successfully complete the last and hardest obstacle, the warped wall. However, only one contestant out of the entire competition made it up the tallest warped wall, Josh York.
The winners of the 9 to 14 division were Xavier McEldowney in first with a time of 56.76 seconds, Logan Hollenbacher in second with a time of 1 minute and 7.81 seconds, Eli Putnam in third with a time of 1 minute and 9.49 seconds, Skylar Bowman in fourth with a time of 1 minute and 46.77 seconds and Bella Brown in fifth with a time of 1 minute and 50.9 seconds.
The winners of the 15 to 18 division were Benjamin Couchot in first with a time of 1 minute and 23.17 seconds and Kaydin Wolaver in second with a time of 1 minute and 24.83 seconds.
Two-time defending champion Josh York earned his third victory this year with a time of 1 minute and 4.48 seconds, also being the only contestant to climb the bigger warped wall. Devontae Weatherspoon got second place with a time of 1 minute and 18.57 seconds, and Jordan Richards got third place with a time of 1 minute and 22.39 seconds.
The writer is a summer intern with the Sidney Daily News.