Dr. Steve Bachta.

Dr. Steve Bachta says his phone “blew up” Monday night, with more than 100 texts from friends and family who saw him on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.”

Bachta successfully climbed, swung, pulled and kicked his way through four incredibly difficult obstacle paths, running up stairs, across rolling bars, hitting boards with his feet and maintaining the proper pace.

“If you don’t run fast enough,” Bachta explains, “you can lose your balance.”

While he fell into a pool trying to finish the final obstacle, making it through four out of the five was good enough to move Bachta into the next round of the televised competition that will air later this summer.

“I did great,” says Bachta, a pediatric hospitalist at Evanston and Highland Park Hospitals, in the NorthShore University HealthSystem chain.

In the qualifying round which just aired on tv, only 40 out of 80 competitors are actually seen on the broadcast.

“Just to make it on the show,” now in its 14th season, “is a lot,” Bachta says.

To a viewer not used to “American Ninja Warrior,” seeing Bachta fall into the pool may have seemed like he was finished, and would not move on to the semifinals.

(Hint: that viewer who is not used to “American Ninja Warrior” is writing this story).

But actually, each obstacle is so challenging that any competitor who makes it through the first four is likely to make the semi’s.

“To make it to the fifth obstacle is huge,” Bachta explains.

“Only three rookies advanced.” And for a 40-year-old rookie such as himself, Bachta adds, “that’s amazing.”

The physician, whose Ninja nickname is “Doc-ta Bachta,” only began Ninja competition two years ago, as an outgrowth of a physical fitness activity he could do with his then-five-year-old daughter Sydney.

Bachta was going to have a “Ninja Warrior” watch party Monday night with his hospital colleagues, but with the risk of COVID-19 still a reality, the party was called off. The last thing anyone wanted was for a doctor to come down with the virus.

Monday night’s show was taped earlier this year in San Antonio. The semifinals, already taped as well, took place in Los Angeles. The finals, in Las Vegas, have also occurred, and will air some time after the semifinals.

As with all tv game and reality shows, contestants are not allowed to reveal results in advance, so Bachta can’t disclose how he did in the upcoming round (or perhaps rounds, if he made the finals).

Whatever the outcome, Bachta says he’ll continue with Chicago-area ninja competitions, and then, at the end of the year, will apply again for the “Ninja Warrior” show’s next season.

To be selected in the first place, Bachta had to send an audition tape.

Now, however, the producers have already seen how well Doc-ta Bachta can do under pressure.

So maybe, just maybe, they’ll invite him back again.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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