CSU student aims to become next American Ninja Warrior 

Sergio Santistevan

A Colorado State University computer science student by day and American Ninja Warrior by night, Seth Rogers has taken the Ninja Warrior community by storm.

Seth Rogers competes in a course on American Ninja Warrior. Photo provided by Seth Rogers’ Family.

The 19-year-old from Pleasanton, California, is a rookie standout on this season of the hit NBC show American Ninja Warrior. The show, which is in its 11th season, is entering the final rounds over the next week. After years of dreaming about it, Rogers will be competing in those final rounds.

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At 13 years old, Rogers started getting involved in ninja activities at APEX Movement in Concord, California. Rogers’ skillset as a rock climber and pole vaulter translated perfectly to the Ninja Warrior competitions, where he started competing at 14. 

American Ninja Warrior is described as a sports entertainment competition that forces contestants to attempt numerous obstacles. These obstacle courses increase in difficulty as the competitor moves on. The goal for each person is to pass enough qualifying rounds to compete in the Las Vegas Finals.

The journey for Rogers started when he was chosen out of 80,000 applicants to compete in this season. Rogers started at the Los Angeles Qualifiers, where he powered through every circumstance to ultimately advance to the LA Finals.

Seth Rogers cheers after finishing a course on American Ninja Warrior. Tune in tonight to see if Rogers can advance to Stage Three. Photo provided by Seth Rogers Family.

“The hardest part of the LA Qualifiers was the wait time before we got to run,” Rogers said. “We had to arrive on set at 4 p.m. and would usually start runs at around 10 p.m. Both nights I ran towards three in the morning.”

In the LA Finals, Rogers’ timings earned him a way to the Las Vegas (National) Finals, where he was able to fulfill a childhood dream of finally getting to compete on the same stages he watched as a kid.

Last week, not every competitor made it through Stage One of the National Finals, and despite his nerves, Rogers wasn’t one of them.

Rogers is one of 28 competitors that paved their way to Stage Two. In years past, Stage Two has not been in favor of the competitors. The highest number of people that made it past Stage Two in a season was eight. Last season, only two people made it to Stage Three.

Rogers now awaits his biggest challenge as a ninja thus far with a calm demeanor.

“Stage Two, I think the nerves will be less of a factor, but the obstacles will be much harder, and the time limit much more unforgiving,” he said. “Success for me is just doing the best I can. Of course everyone wants to do well, but I would rather just enjoy the experience and see how far I can get.”

As a fan of the show, Rogers cites Ninja Warrior Brian Kretsch as his biggest role model because of his attitude. Kretsch has competed in nearly every season of the show and has reached the National Finals five times.

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Outside of the ninja community, Rogers looks up to his parents because they have supported him every step of the way.

“It makes me feel so proud that all of Seth’s hard work has resulted in such an amazing season on American Ninja Warrior,” Rogers’ mother, Lecia Shaffer, said. “I’m glad all his years of hard work and dedication (are) coming together.” 

Even if he doesn’t make it past Stage Two, Rogers vows this will not be the last time we see him on the American Ninja Warrior course.

“I absolutely will try out for Season 12,” he said. “The whole experience was so much fun, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Rogers will see if he can conquer Stage Two tonight at 6 p.m. on NBC.

Sergio Santistevan can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.