“I found out actually a little bit earlier than the news release was,” the St. Mary High School senior recalled.
“When I was in Phoenix, my parents said that they had gotten the email and just said I have to keep it quiet for the next little bit until the news release was let out …
“It was exciting. It was some good news to get when I was down there.”
Provincial athletic association Saskatchewan Athletics nominated Lehner, 17, for the award.
Sask Athletics executive director Bob Reindl described Lehner’s nomination as a clear-cut choice. He noted that her achievements far outpaced the closest competition in her age group.
“Katelyn was our top youth athlete, and she did win our Bob Adams Award as our top female athlete in field and track category this past year in 2012,” Reindl said.
“Her achievements stood out over anybody else that we had in athletics,” he added.
As reported in the Daily Herald earlier this week, Lehner racked up an impressive list of athletic feats throughout 2012, winning medal after medal at a series of track and field competitions while breaking numerous records.
Despite her modesty, the Grade 12 student could not deny the lengthy series of achievements that netted her the Sask Sport honour.
“Was I surprised? I don’t know,” Lehner said of the recognition. “I mean, I know I had a good year last year, and I was up against other really good athletes too, so it was an honour to be up against them …
“I’m really honoured to be awarded the youth female athlete of the year, and want to just thank Sask Athletics and everyone that’s kind of helped me through this and … nominated me.”
Aspiring young athletes should take note: Such success doesn’t come easily.
Lehner constantly trains at home and with her fellow high school athletes at the Alfred Jenkins Field House track. She does strength training twice a week and squeezes in extra practice whenever possible.
“It’s definitely a lifestyle … when you’re at a level that you know you want to kind of continue doing it and you’re at that phase that you want to pursue it,” Lehner said.
She added, “I love going and training with a group and everything, and we’re such a a tight-knit bunch and everything and we’re all just a family out there and it’s fun to kind of go and be with a team like that, just because the track is so individual, so it’s good when you can get with a good group like that.”
The young track phenom has plenty of activity to keep her busy in the coming months. Besides city, district and provincial meets, she has been chosen along with other St. Mary students to represent Saskatchewan at the Nike High School Grand Prix competition in Toronto. Summer will also bring the Canadian Juniors meet as well as the Canada Summer Games.
She’s got lots of talent there, and she is young, so it’ll be interesting to see how she progresses. - Bob Reindl
Lehner’s long-term goal is to find a spot on a Canadian national team. Until then, she plans to attend university and continue her track and field career.
Unsurprisingly, she has received plenty of offers.
“I’m not sure where I’m going to go,” Lehner said. “I have a few options, in the States as well as in Canada, so I’m still kind of weighing out some pros and cons of different things and I’ll hopefully be making that decision soon so I can kind of get that weight off my chest, because it is a little stressful sometimes.
“But I’m excited, and I think next year it’s going to be a good year wherever I decide to go.”
The province’s sports authorities will certainly be paying close attention to Lehner in the years to come.
“She’s got lots of talent there, and she is young, so it’ll be interesting to see how she progresses,” Reindl said.
“She is on our list to represent Saskatchewan at the Canada Games if she qualifies for the team. But with her credentials behind her, she’s a gifted athlete and we hope to see her go far in track and field.”