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Milwaukie woman headed to 'American Gladiators' semifinals

Monica Carlson notched the fastest time on the show's obstacle course, ensuring her a spot among this season's eight semi-finalists
by: submitted photo, Monica Carlson

Those who tuned in to watch Milwaukie resident Monica Carlson compete in 'American Gladiators' on Jan. 14 saw a local gal do well. Very well.

In fact, the fleet-of-foot lass blew the others out of the water, and guaranteed herself a spot in the top eight.

Here's how it went down.

First up, Carlson and bull rider Belinda Gavin took on American Gladiators Stealth, Venom and Crush in a sort of grab the ball, run and stuff it in a bin contest. Score: Carlson 6, Gavin 4.

Then came the joust - competitors could score one point, just by staying on their feet for 30 seconds, but Carlson went one better and pushed Venom in the drink. 10 points! Gavin got herself disqualified. Score: Carlson, 16, Gavin, 4.

Carlson earned one point but was beaned in the tennis ball turret competition, while Gavin sent Helga flying. Score: Carlson 17, Gavin 14.

It was in the climb-the-pyramid contest that Carlson first distinguished herself. She evaded Stealth and became the first contestant all season to make it all the way to the top. Score: Carlson 27, Gavin 14.

Carlson earned enough points to get a 6.5 second lead over Gavin at the start of the final competition - the dreaded Eliminator.

She ran, swam, climbed and fought her way through the course, crashing through to the finish line in two minutes flat, and guaranteeing herself a place in the semi-finals.

'You have the fastest time of anyone in the contest, male or female,' Hulk Hogan told her.

Chad Carlson, Monica Carlson's husband, and their 8-year-old twin daughters were in the audience in Los Angeles watching her compete.

'It was quite a set up. It's a football-field size warehouse that has all these awesome obstacles. It's really long hours and not as enjoyable as it is edited on TV,' he said.

'You're basically there to work for the show, being a part of the studio audience. But then it's all worth it when the events finally begin.'

His daughters 'had a blast getting to know the other contestants and some of the gladiators and living in a hotel. What can you say? It was like watching cartoons while they should be in class.

'We play a lot of sports and games in our house so I think they thought this was pretty normal. Of course Monica and I were laughing about it,' Chad Carlson said.

He said he and the girls watched the competition on TV last week, right along with millions of people.

'It's funny, watching the TV show and knowing the outcome become blurred at the moment of each competition. The girls and I were nervous and yelling like something else was going to happen, even though we saw it with our own eyes.'

Chad and Monica Carlson are not allowed to answer any detailed questions about the next round of competition for 'American Gladiators,' but Chad Carlson said he guessed that the semi-finals would be the first Monday in February. With Carlson's showing in the Eliminator, she is guaranteed a spot among the final eight contestants that compete to become gladiators next season.

'American Gladiators' airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. on NBC. Visit www.nbc.com/American_Gladiators to see clips from the show.