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Pipe Dream challenge ends Naperville man’s finals run on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ – Chicago Tribune

His dream was ended by the Pipe Dream.

The bad news for Naperville’s Cam Baumgartner is that he did not win the 14th season of the “American Ninja Warrior” show.

But as a consolation prize, the 24-year-old was the best finisher ever from the Chicago area.

Baumgartner, a Naperville Central graduate and North Central College student, made it to the third stage of the finals, which took place in May in Las Vegas and shown Monday on NBC.

Three Chicago ninjas have made it to the third stage in the past — Ethan Swanson, Michael Torres and Chris DiGangi. All three fell on the Ultimate Cliffhanger obstacle.

As Baumgartner was going through the course and hit the Ultimate Cliffhanger, show announcer Akbar Gbajabiamila said: “This has been the one obstacle that no one in Chicago has been able to conquer. Can Cam Baumbartner be the one to break through?”

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“He’s making it look easy,” Gbajabiamila said during the obstacle.

“He’s gone on stage 3 farther than any Chicago ninja!” announcer Matt Iseman exclaimed.

Then, the Pipe Dream.

According to the cwh.famdom.com website, ninjas in this obstacle grab a bar, swing to a wall and maneuver from pole to pole. That’s the point when Baumgarter slipped and hit the water.

“Well, he set a new standard for Chicago ninjas on the ultimate cliffhanger but on Pipe Dream, it’s a six-foot gap to the next pole,” Iseman said. “He tried to straddle it and that didn’t work, so he jumped and just couldn’t hang on.”

“Cam the Baum,” as he is known to some, is far from being alone in failing to reach the fourth stage.

Through the first 13 seasons, only five competitors mastered the third stage. This year, five athletes were able to finish it.

However, none of the five were able to earn the $1 million for completing the fourth stage — finishing the 80-foot-rope climb that needed to be done in 30 seconds.

Kaden Lebsack, 16, of Colorado, had the best climb in the event and became a two-time American Ninja champion, pocketing $100,000. He is just a sophomore in high school.

Only two competitors in the history of the show have ever mastered the fourth stage and won the million bucks.

This was the fourth year Baumgartner had been on the show and the second consecutive year he made it to the finals. In 2021, he exited after the first stage.

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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