Fall 2017

Student by day, ninja by night

Dalton Knapp demonstrates a bat hang on the Devil Steps.
Courtesy of Dalton Knapp

Dalton Knapp, ’18, has been a builder since childhood. When he and his brothers Drew and Carter discovered the reality television series “American Ninja Warrior” as kids, they constructed their own obstacle course. The trio also developed a friendly rivalry. 

When Dalton’s athletic momentum was harshly interrupted with a Burkitt leukemia diagnosis at age 10, his brothers were his biggest supporters. Dalton eventually defeated cancer, but the treatments left him with little muscle mass. 

As Dalton relearned how to walk, run, and jump, the brothers’ competitive dynamic kept him going. “Seeing that they were better than me at anything athletic drove me to get healthy enough to play with them again,” he says.

Dalton and Drew eventually competed on “American Ninja Warrior” and were featured in the August 28 finals. Dalton was derailed by the “salmon ladder” (a structure with one movable rung that the contestant uses to ascend in a series of pull-ups) toward the end of his run.

Despite being head over heels for obstacle courses, Dalton says getting an education has always been his priority. Receiving the Charles and Ellora Alliss Educational Foundation Scholarship, he says, makes it easier to juggle his training and his studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

A mechanical engineering major, he one day hopes to design extreme sporting equipment. 

See Dalton Knapp compete in the Denver finals last summer: