Spider walls and skyhooks

Kansas’ first Junior Ninja

Written by Amy Palser

Zoe Zogleman’s family and friends will be on the edges of their seats this month to find out just how the Wichita fifth grader fared on the grueling and exciting obstacle course on “American Ninja Warrior Junior.”

Zoe, 11, the daughter of Brandy and Jesse Zogleman, landed a spot on the contest-based TV show — an impressive feat considering there were over 11,000 applicants. Zoe is on Episode 5, which airs 6 p.m. March 21 on Universal Kids TV network. The show, which originated in Japan and is the junior version of the popular “American Ninja Warrior,” celebrates real kids taking on the iconic course with dedication, skill and determination.

In Season 2 of “American Ninja Warrior Junior,” which premiered Feb. 22, more than 140 boy and girl Junior Ninjas from across the U.S. face off on head-to-head courses in three age brackets: 9–10, 11–12, and 13–14. Zoe is the first and only contestant from Kansas. She was 10 at the time of the show’s taping and competed in the 9–10 age bracket.

With a history of tumbling, all-star cheer and gymnastics, Zoe has a love for climbing and challenging herself, said mom Brandy. To prepare for the competition, Zoe trained at Omnicut Motivational Fitness in Wichita with Marquis Bradley and traveled to Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado to train for the obstacle course.

As former Miss Kansas Junior Preteen 2018, Zoe chose the “American Ninja Warrior Junior” competition name Pageant Ninja, which ties in with her message about pageantry and performance. “She spreads a message that strong is the new beautiful,” Brandy said. “She’s also sharing a platform of advocating for childhood cancer, specifically leukemia, in memory of our friend J.C. Delamore, and she started a campaign of #jcstrong.”

Zoe, who also has been doing modeling and runway shows, said being on “American Ninja Warrior Junior” was a great experience. “I learned how to overcome obstacles and fears,” she said. “For me, it was never about winning but it was about believing and training for a goal.”

Three final winners (one per age bracket) will be crowned “American Ninja Warrior Junior” Champions — but folks will have to watch the show weekly to find out if Zoe is one of the Champions. The show is hosted by comedian and TV personality Matt Iseman and former professional football player and sports analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila; it is co-hosted by paralympian gold medalist and sportscaster Victoria Arlen.

“One of my favorite memories was meeting (‘American Ninja Warrior’ winner) Drew Drechsel, Matt Iseman and Akbar,” Zoe said. “Matt and Akbar put so much into the show. Drew is inspiring because he never gave up until he won — plus he wears cargo pants to compete!”

In Season 2, the courses will feature 10 brand new, iconic Ninja Warrior obstacles: Shrinking and Floating Steps, the Little Dipper, Spider Walls, Double Tilt Ladders, Crazy Cliffhanger, the Block Run, Flying Squirrel, Wingnuts and Skyhooks. In an exciting new twist this season, there will be four wildcard races per age bracket, where the two fastest Ninjas eliminated from the previous qualifiers will have another chance to move into the quarterfinals.

“We are so excited for this to finally be here!” Brandy said. “We can’t wait to watch these amazing kids tell their stories and how they trained for a year for one race.”

“American Ninja Warrior Junior,” Season 2

Saturdays at 6 p.m. Central
Universal Kids TV network
Zoe appears on Episode 5 on March 21
Check UniversalKids.com for channel listings

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