Savoonga Native competes in American Ninja Warrior Season 14

Second Alaskan to be featured this season
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 9:10 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Twenty-four year old, Isaiah Waghiyi of Savoonga, Alaska, is now the second Alaskan to be on season fourteen of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. North Pole’s, Tristan Wyman, was the first, and is still waiting for his semifinal episode to air.

Savoonga is located on St. Lawrence Island in the middle of the Bering Sea between mainland Alaska and Russia. It took five different flights for Isaiah to get from Savoonga to San Antonio, Texas for the qualifying round of American Ninja Warrior. It all started with an unknown number calling from California.

“Oh man, I thought I was in trouble,” recalled Waghiyi. “I got a missed call, and I was like, ‘Why is someone all the way from California was calling me?’.

The week following his episode of American Ninja Warrior airing, he made his way to Fairbanks for the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics (WEIO). Waghiyi actually described WEIO as the closest sports comparison to American Ninja Warrior.

“There’s people that are communicating and encouraging each other on rather than ‘me beating you’,” explained Isaiah. “We’re all trying to make our personal record. At Ninja Warrior, I like how they gave advice to other ninjas just like the native games here... That’s how it was with experienced ninjas giving advice to me.”

In addition to Isaiah going to Texas for the qualifying run, it was his first time out of Alaska. Many parts about the contiguous United States surprised and excited Waghiyi. There were many things that he enjoyed on the trip, but one thing stood out as a clear favorite.

Isaiah smiled from ear to ear and exclaimed, “I finally got to go on a rollercoaster, yes! I was so scared, and my older sister she wasn’t even yelling. I was screaming like a little girl.

Even though Waghiyi didn’t qualify for the semifinal round of American Ninja Warrior, but he always found the positive takeaways that inspire him to keep going and never give up on his dreams. Waghiyi noted the outpouring of messages and friend requests on social media saw a significant increase once his episode aired.

“Those are very heartfelt,” said Waghiyi. “The compliments of someone who is inspired by my story. That makes me want to keep going.

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