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Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge Finale

Last night the Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge season finale aired on NBC pitting the six top teams from the qualifying rounds against each other in the two-hour finale. The teams squared off to see who would take home the $250,000 prize purse. The finals brought in a few new obstacles to challenge the competitors including a 16-foot wall and the dreaded tire swing.

unspecified-5The first heat pitted Dream Team, Bounce Squad, and Muddy Minglers battled for the first spot in the finals. Muddy Minglers lead by Hunter McIntyre took a commanding lead to capture a spot in the finals. In the second heat of the night, Team Grit, Comeback Kids, and Free Spirits squared off for capture their spot in the championship. Tiffany Nguyen was subbed into Free Spirits after Joy Cox hurt her ankle in the qualifying round. It was a close race between the three teams as all had struggles on the tire swing and finishing the heat with an intense slip wall with all three teams on the wall at once. But in the end, the Comeback Kids would take the heat and move onto the championship heat with Muddy Minglers and Team Grit earning the wildcard spot.

In the finals, the Muddy Minglers struggled as they suffered an injury in the semi-finals and quickly lagged behind the other teams and ultimately had to pull from the race. Comeback Kids and Team Grit traded the lead throughout the finals but in the end, it was the Comeback Kids taking the championship and the $250,000 prize purse. We caught up with a few members of the Comeback Kids to hear in their own words what it was like to become the Spartan: Ultimate Team Championships Title.


Beni Gifford

(Check out our video interview with Beni here with some insight on “drafting” the ultimate team and the in-fighting that nearly ended their chances at victory.)

What was the biggest challenge in the finals?

Staying cool and collected knowing we were facing not only the best of the best, but teams stacked with American Ninja Warriors. Guys and gals who already had big names and were familiar with competing on obstacles on a national stage.

unspecified-3How do you think your combined OCR experience gave you a leg up on the competition?

While our individual skill levels on obstacles may (and i saw MAY) not have been equal to some of the other teams members (specifically the ninjas,) we were more familiar with exercising those skill sets in adverse conditions, like being exhausted and beat up, covered in mud, soaking wet, cut, bleeding and scraped, and cold as hell, so we all had complete confidence in each others ability to handle themselves in these conditions.

How did it feel when you crossed the finish line knowing you won?

Honestly, and this is something I told to Matt Campione on the bus ride back to our hotel afterward…it felt right. From the beginning of the application process, for me anyways, there was this sense of “this is what we are meant to do.” So when Matt asked me “has it hit you yet? Can you believe it?” I just replied and said, “ya man, it just feels RIGHT.”

What do you plan to do with the money?

I don't want to do any grand purchases. I was telling Jack Bauer on a run today in the beautiful mountains here at my home in Colorado Springs, that I literally ONLY have things in my life that I WANT in it. I have a beautiful home, in the only location I've ever wanted to live, with a woman I dreamed about being with for 2 years, with the dog I dreamed about having ever since I read “White Fang” as a little boy, participating in the only sport that has ever brought me so much satisfaction that I was ok with it taking up most of my time.

What I'm saying is, I want this money to just continue allowing me to live the way I am, cause when I live the way I am, I attract more amazing happiness and success in my life, which in turn will eventually put me in a position to where I can really truly retire my dad and my mom.

What is next for Team Comeback Kids?

As a team? Hopefully, we'll be back WHEN they renew the series. For me? ESPN BattleFrog League Championships in 2 weeks which I competed on, continued training for the OCRWC 3k course in October….and rumors of a crack at Hunter McIntyre's record on Broken Skull Challenge. We'll see!

Laura Messner

What was the biggest challenge in the finals?

I think the biggest challenge in the finals was focusing on just OUR race. It's easy to get distracted by where other teams are and how well they are doing. We did a good job staying focused for the most part, but there were definitely some moments (for me at least) when I had to tell myself to refocus!

Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge Episode 5 PreviewHow do you think your combined OCR experience gave you a leg up on the competition?
I definitely think that it gave us a leg up on the competition having an OCR background. We are more familiar with these types of obstacles and knowing which techniques work well for getting through each one.

How did it feel when you crossed the finish line knowing you won?
Cross the finish line knowing that we won was truly surreal! It suddenly hits you all at once and then you suddenly realize you have an overwhelming amount of emotions running through you. I cried like a baby crossing that finish line, reflecting on our meaning of our name, Comeback Kids! Shows that it doesn’t matter where you came from or what you’ve done in your past. If you give yourself the power/ability to change your life you will realize there is SO MUCH you can achieve, creating an unstoppable force!

What do you plan to do with the money?
I plan to use it to grow and spread love. So that means attending more seminars, workshops, giving to others, putting together my book, etc. There are so many ways to make a difference and I want to be a part of that.

What is next for Team Comeback Kids?
I will tell you right now, Comeback Kids are COMING BACK!!! You haven't seen the last of us. We plan on defending our title for season 2 so look out!

Matthew Campione

What was the biggest challenge in the finals?

For me, it was definitely that friggin giant tire swing. Getting the timing right on that was tricky and crucial. No teams made it through without some failed attempts, a definite game changer.

unspecifiedHow do you think your combined OCR experience gave you a leg up on the competition? 

I think the biggest advantage is just being used running all out through the woods, being used to the pain of it all and ignoring it, being able to throw yourself under the dunk wall and attack each obstacle even when you are oxygen deprived.

How did it feel when you crossed the finish line knowing you won?

It was such a surreal moment, knowing where each of us came from and have gone through, and the countless hours training and preparing, team strategizing. It was the one of the best feelings of my life, and I will never forget it.

What do you plan to do with the money?

Head to Vegas and put it all on red!! No seriously, though, a house is probably in the near future, as well as more equipment for training.

What is next for Team Comeback Kids?

We are so excited for what the future may hold, besides my own personal racing, we hope to be able to return in some fashion for Season 2 as well as some possible appearances on ninja warrior and team ninja warrior. 

Lynnae Kettler-Cheung

unspecified-2What was the biggest challenge in the finals?

For me, it was the tire obstacle. I swear that is one of the scariest obstacles I have ever done! Having a 500-or-something pound tire coming at you can be pretty intimidating, not to mention having to actually jump off it while moving. It took every part of me to allow myself to jump both on and off it. It became one of our strategies on the final race — for Beni to just chuck me on it because I didn't trust myself to do it! Teamwork!!

How do you think your combined OCR experience gave you a leg up on the competition?

I think it definitely helped us to figure out a strategy and working as a team. We knew what our strengths and weaknesses were, and we talked about them ahead of time and after each race. I think we were lucky in that respect, since we all even each other out pretty well.

How did it feel when you crossed the finish line knowing you won?

It was so surreal… the whole time there was surreal. I don't think I realized we won for a little bit. I was just on auto-pilot for a while.

What do you plan to do with the money?

I'm boring… I plan to finally pay off my student loans and bank the rest in my “race fund”. 🙂

What is next for Team Comeback Kids?

We'd love to get invited back next season to defend our title!

What did you think of the show? 

Do you want to see Season 2? 

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