Sam Folsom on American Ninja Warrior

DORSEY - A local man is competing on season 16 of “American Ninja Warrior” on NBC, and he couldn’t be more excited to represent his hometown.

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Sam Folsom, 20, of Dorsey, Illinois, has been honing his ninja skills since he was 14. Ninja is a sport that combines elements of gymnastics, parkour and speed through a timed obstacle course. As a competitor on the television show, Folsom’s ability and story have turned heads as he prepares to enter the semifinal rounds.

“It’s been a crazy experience coming from probably the smallest town in America onto the biggest stage for ninja and the ninja platform,” Folsom said. “It’s kind of surreal.”

Folsom and his brother Phil and their friend Tyler Smith started training together at a young age. When they grew bored of the obstacle course at the gym, the Folsom brothers began building their own ninja obstacles in their barn. Known around town as the Barn Boys, the three young men soon built names for themselves in the ninja world as they dominated at championships around the country.

Folsom is pleased to report that a few of his homemade obstacles have even made it onto the “American Ninja Warrior” season 16 course. The “American Ninja Warrior” producers follow the athletes who they think will make it onto the show, and the design team chose to recreate obstacles that Folsom built in his barn.

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The three Barn Boys are still close, and Phil and Smith are cheering on Folsom as he competes in season 16. All three plan to try out for season 17 of “American Ninja Warrior,” and they’re excited to see where it takes them.

“Myself and my brother and Tyler still train,” Folsom said. “We are actually in the process of building a new barn. Our first one that had all of our ninja obstacles unfortunately went out in a barn fire, so since then, we’ve been rebuilding the obstacles and I still train there.”

While the trio remains close, there’s a new ninja in their midst. Folsom’s fiance, Isabella Wakeham, is a ninja in her own right, and the two of them competed on the “American Ninja Warrior” couple’s special edition a few weeks ago. As Wakeham finishes up school in Texas, they plan to move back to St. Louis so they can continue training and rebuilding the barn in Dorsey.

Folsom is proud of the work he has put into ninja and eager to see where it takes him. He noted that when he began training at age 14, the qualifying age for American Ninja Warrior was 21. Over the years, it eventually lowered to 15, allowing him to compete sooner than he ever imagined. But while it’s been a whirlwind, Folsom wouldn’t trade any part of his “American Ninja Warrior” journey, and he’s happy to be training alongside his loved ones.

“Everything happened so much faster than I could have ever imagined, which has been amazing and a blessing,” Folsom added. “It kind of took me by storm, and ever since I’ve been on my first season, it’s just been surreal and kind of a push to want to be on more and more and do better and better.”

You can watch “American Ninja Warrior” on Mondays on NBC.

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