After taking a week off for the Stanley Cup Finals, American Ninja Warrior is back with a brand new episode Monday night. And if you tune in, you might see some familiar faces.
This week, ANW heads up Interstate 35 to Oklahoma City, where more than a dozen North Texas ninjas competed.
Here are some names to look out for.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Karsten "The Big Kat" Williams
Perrenial contender Karsten Williams is back for his seventh season of American Ninja Warrior. The five-time national finalist says Season 11 is "the most exciting one yet".
Since competing on the show last season, Williams' life has taken an unexpected, but exciting turn. In October 2018, he helped open a brand new ninja training gym in Frisco called Ninja Nation, where he now works full-time as its head coach.
"This is my career now," said Williams. "It's funny how your journey and path can change at any moment — and you just have to be ready to accept it and be ready to receive it."
He remains a fierce competitor, still hungry to get past Stage 1 in Las Vegas — a feat he has not yet accomplished. But now as a coach, who works with kids, adults in their 50's, and even his fellow competitors, his own success is no longer his only priority.[[511410922,C]]
"It's a great opportunity to be able to do what I do," said Williams. "I want to inspire others to do the same."
The group of ninja hopefuls he trains with at Ninja Nation sent more than a dozen competitors to the qualifiers in Oklahoma City. He hopes that number continues to grow.
"I take pride in that," said Williams. "And I can guarantee, this season is going to be electrifying to watch. You're going to see some magic happen this season."
Scotty K is a first-time ninja — and a morning show co-host on Hot 93.3 in Dallas.
He and his son Chance are longtime fans of American Ninja Warrior. Trying to be the "cool dad", as he puts it, he made a remark one night after they watched the show that set everything in motion.
"I said I could do that," said Scotty. "He said no you can't dad. Then I said well now I have to do it."
After making the bet with Chance, he sent in an audition tape — and much to his surprise, he was offered a spot on Season 11.
With one hurdle cleared, he quickly came up against another — he had never been on a course, or any obstacle for that matter, like the ones he would see in Oklahoma City.
"I knew if I was gonna do it, I was gonna need some help," said Scotty. "So there's no one better to help than Karsten."
He went to Ninja Nation in Frisco and got to work.
Most ninjas who compete on the show spend at least a year training. He had two months to get ready.
"The first time I stepped into Ninja Nation, I was like oh my god, this is the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. But that's what it's all about. It's about overcoming your fears and doing something that you never thought you could do."
He says waiting for the buzzer at the starting line in Oklahoma City was one of the most surreal experience of his life. And he's proud of how he performed.
He insists if he can do it, anyone can.
"Anybody that's thinking about doing something that's outside of their comfort zone, do it."
Jonathan "JB" Bange
Jonathan "JB" Bange is a two-time ninja, who coaches with Williams at Ninja Nation in Frisco.
He says there are still days he has to pinch himself to make sure this is his actual life.
"I am the youngest son of a single mother who had a 9th grade education," said Bange. "I'm from Oak Cliff. And I had chronic asthma growing up. For me — this was nowhere in the play for me."
Passionate about fitness, he began helping another American Ninja Warrior train for the show's 9th season.
"And I traveled with him to the show," said Bange. "I kind of wanted to do it, but I didn't think I had the time or money or resources. And from there, he challenged me to do it — and then signed me up involuntarily for my first competition."
During that first competition, he let his nerves get the better of him — and he fell on the first obstacle. He says that was when he "got bit by the bug" and was determined to do better.
"Ultimately, I do this because I want to be the best version of myself," said Bange.
He competed in Season 10 of ANW, but did not make it past the qualifier. He looks to improve in Season 11 — not just for himself, but for the kids he works with at the gym.
"I want to show them that you can do anything you put your mind and heart to," said Bange. "And if you're willing to put in the work, this can happen for you too."
Preston Bonds is a first-time ninja, who made it onto Season 11 as a walk-on — meaning the show's producers didn't offer him a spot based on his audition tape, but his name was drawn in a lottery for hopefuls.
He'd tried for six years to get on American Ninja Warrior, but was never successful.
Still he persevered.
"I kept going to the gym at least once a week, training with my friends and family, putting in the work," said Bonds. "And then finally, I got the opportunity to actually participate this year. So I was super excited."
Bonds traveled to Oklahoma City with no guarantees he'd get to run the course. He says he was speechless when they called his name.
"The whole time I'm thinking, you've put in the time, you've put in the effort, your name is going to get called," said Bonds. "And sure enough, number 9 of 20 was Preston Bonds. I ran down there and I gave the producer a big hug. I actually almost knocked him into this river that we were filming next to."
He would have to persevere one more time as he waited for his turn to face the course.
"I was THE last one to run the course," said Bonds. "It was in the wee hours of the morning. I'd been up all night. But that's the name of the game. You gotta be ready whenever they call you and perform."
Bonds says it was worth the wait. And he continues to train at Ninja Nation, hoping this won't be his last ANW experience.
American Ninja Warrior airs at 7 p.m. on NBC 5.