Student competes on NBC’s ‘American Ninja Warrior’

For Marshall student Tyler Cravens, it took two years of waiting before he was able to pursue his dreams of becoming the next American Ninja Warrior.

After recovering from a motorcycle accident last year, Cravens, 26, of Chesapeake, Ohio, will compete in the Philadelphia qualifier round of "American Ninja Warrior," a television show that features an obstacle course race that tests competitors’ strength, agility and climbing ability. The episode airs this Monday, June 27, at 9 p.m. (EDT) on NBC.

Cravens, an exercise science student in the university’s College of Health Professions, said taking exercise science classes and learning about muscle movement helped take his training to the next level.

"Having such a strong background in athletics has been a great way for me to transfer from basic everyday sports to more specific ninja warrior obstacle training," Cravens said. "’American Ninja Warrior’ really takes obstacle courses to a whole new level, and being so competitive, I had to give it a shot. This is the toughest obstacle course on the planet and I couldn’t be more excited to take it on."

Cravens said the obstacles of "American Ninja Warrior" could be seen as a metaphor for life’s challenges.

"That’s the most powerful element about ninja warrior – every obstacle is a metaphor for something bigger going on in our lives," Cravens said. "Not everyone sitting at home watching is going to take on this course, but someone who is sick or is going through a tough time might be inspired to overcome that personal obstacle."

With over 100,000 applicants this season, Cravens said he feels extremely fortunate to be chosen as a member of the "ninja community."

"Being a rookie on American Ninja Warrior was an experience of a lifetime – it’s an array of new feelings and emotions that you can’t train for. Having some of the other seasoned veterans like Joe Dubuc, David Campbell, Chris Wilczewski, Bobby Zavala and Dave Mytyk in our corner really made a world of difference. They took us under their wing and really guided us in the right direction," Cravens said. "It’s such a cool thing to be a part of something bigger like the ninja community. It’s more like a family."

Cravens said he would like to give special recognition to his Chesapeake community, his family and the faculty at Marshall University who allowed him to take his finals early last semester to prepare for the competition. He will be joined by teammates John Walsh, Julien McConnell, Maggi Thorne, Faris Xero, Art Reis and Josh Wallis. Follow Cravens’ journey on "American Ninja Warrior" by following him on Facebook or Instagram: @tyler_cravens1.

To learn more about the exercise science program in the College of Health Professions, visit online.


Photo: Tyler Cravens, 26, of Chesapeake, Ohio, is a contestant on the new season of "American Ninja Warrior." The episode airs this Monday, June 27, at 9 p.m. (EDT) on NBC. After graduating, Cravens said he hopes to open his own ninja warrior gym with a variety of obstacles to improve the health and well-being of his community members.