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Sports Article
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Kemmerer Returns to American Ninja Warrior Competition
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Writer

Upper Perk alumnus Zack Kemmerer, Taylor Amann and Andrew Philibeck represented Team Wisconsin in the "Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness" event earlier this year in Los Angeles. Their competition will be televised on the Esquire Network on Dec. 13.

                For a few years following the conclusion of his amateur wresting career, Zack Kemmerer looked to fill a competitive void in his life. Though he dabbled in mixed marital arts, the 5-foot-7, 155-pounder settled on American Ninja Warrior, an obstacle course competition.

                "It has done a pretty good job" of filling that void,  said Kemmerer, a 2007 Upper Perkiomen High School graduate.

                In August, he competed in the "Team Ninja Warrior: College Madness." Kemmerer, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, recruited two other athletes from the school for the event.

                A two-time PIAA wrestling champion, Kemmerer competed with Andrew Philibeck, an avid marathoner, and Taylor Amann, a pole vaulter on the Badgers' track and field team, against teams from 15 other universities across the nation.         

                Their performance will be broadcast on the Dec. 13 episode on the Esquire Channel. His team will take on a three-person team from the University of Maryland in a Big 10 Conference-themed show.

                Kemmerer, who would not say how the trio performed or if they advanced to the finals, expects to host an informal viewing party for that episode at the PC Pub in Pennsburg on Dec. 20.

                Though not allowed to divulge how his team finished, Kemmerer, known as the Science Ninja, said he performed with mental and physical confidence.  "I felt confident and prepared," said Kemmerer, a Ph.D. candidate at the university in Madison, Wisconsin. 

                Kemmerer debuted in the American Ninja Warrior competition earlier this year in Indianapolis. Despite slipping on an early obstacle, he finished 15th out of 120 competitors in the event's qualifying round.  He call called the misstep a "mental lapse."

                The experience left Kemmerer hungry for a chance to redeem himself. That opportunity came in late August, when the trio complete in the team competition.

                Though he went into the individual event with just two weeks of physical preparation for the April competition, Kemmerer trained consistently in advance of the team event, which consists of an obstacle race against an opponent from another institution. 

                "I felt really confident about stepping up and tackling those obstacles," he said. "There was a real sense of anxiety and stress, and I think my wrestling background helps."

                Prior to the recent taping, Kemmerer ramped up his training. He said a friend transformed a building into a man cave for Ninja enthusiasts.

                "I couldn't get enough of the training," Kemmerer said.

                According to Kemmerer, the experience felt similar to competing in front of hundreds of wrestling fans in Hershey.

                "I could feel the competitive juices," he said.

                Kemmerer, who plans on competing in the American Ninja Warrior event next year, says his upper body and grip strength are at their peak. Though his cardio is strong, he said it doesn't compare to when he was wrestling.

                "It's a different type of athleticism," Kemmerer said. "I'm in good shape. I don't think I have lost a step. I feel great."






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