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77 days in the walk-on line haven’t dulled Dave Cavanagh’s passion

He’s heading back to the National Finals for the second year in a row.

Bill McCay/NBC

Dave Cavanagh has earned the title of “King of the Walk Ons.” Since his Ninja career began in St. Louis during season six, he’s spent 77 days in the walk-on line. Dave chronicled his experience in two articles he shared on ANW Nation.

Season nine was one of Dave’s best. He made it all the way to the Wave Runner of Stage Two at the National Finals. Back for season 10, Dave is on a roll again. In the Philadelphia Qualifiers, he completed the course with the second fastest time. His run in the City Finals left him in the fifth position, falling on the ninth obstacle, the Spinball Wizard.

We spoke with Dave before he stepped up to the course that night. We asked him to share how he was feeling, which obstacles made him nervous and why he was so dedicated to walking on.

Dave on Stage One, Season 9
David Becker/NBC

“I felt pretty good going into Qualifiers. It was an awkward feeling, actually. Most of the time you get really hyped and really anxious. You start to have that turn in your stomach. But for me this time, I was more or less, not afraid of the course, but afraid of hitting the reset button. I had made it so far last year, and I had done so well and was so proud of myself. To think that I had to start all over was really scary to me. What if I don’t do as well?

But as soon as I started, the nerves went away again and I just kind of went.”

“It’s a bit of an addiction (walking on). It’s not the thrills. It’s just the idea of seeing myself get better, get further, get stronger, get faster. I can look back every year and see the differences. See what worked. I just feel like I can’t give it up so easily.”

“That Lightning Bolt thing. It’s a really small bar. I didn’t worry at first, but as I made the first transfer, I looked over and I saw that I had probably a quarter of an inch that caught me. Luckily, I wasn’t that tired, so I stopped myself. I hung, I fixed the bar. I just kind of sat there for a minute and let my heart rate go back down. Then it was like, alright now I can keep going. It was a little scary for a second.”

“It’s weird. I’m going to go really late (in City Finals). I got second in Qualifiers. So if they do the true order, I’ll be second to last. And I’m going to be looked at more. There’s going to be a lot of people watching. There’s a lot more pressure to do well. Obviously I don’t want to squander the fact that I got second and fall on the third obstacle. It’s a little more stressful but I’ve been training really hard. I think I got it.”

The King of the Walk Ons is back in the National Finals!