Like a Ninja: Woodbury boy competes on national extreme obstacle course

As an athlete who plays just about every sport imaginable, Lucas Paulson enjoys a good challenge. But the 12-year-old from Woodbury is flying high after taking part in a national competition based on his favorite TV show.

"It's just a fun way to exercise. It's a fun thing to do during your free time," Paulson said. "It's not easy and people train for years to do it."

Paulson has been a fan of American Ninja Warrior since he started watching the show three years ago.

Now every other day, he's at the Conquer Ninja Warrior Gym training on a smaller version of the show's signature obstacle course.

"They've kid-sized the warped wall. They've given longer run-ups so you can get up from farther differences. They've made different obstacles, made new ones. They have the cliff hanger [and] added more holds so it's easier to do," Paulson said.

Last month, Paulson traveled to Dallas for the Ultimate Ninja Athletic Association finals. He completed 9 of the 12 obstacles, but fell short of qualifying for the finals.

"It was a wake-up call. You are not the best, and it's like there is a lot of good people out there. Not just in Minnesota," Paulson said.

But Paulson is determined to overcome every stumbling block and take the sport to new heights.

"I hope to do better at the next nationals. I hope this gym stays here for awhile, and I'm going to keep doing it," Paulson said.

Paulson qualified at a regional ninja competition last weekend, and he'll compete in another national competition at Conquer Ninja Warrior in December.