Sometimes it is hard to remember that Katelyn Lehner is just 16 years old.
It is even harder to fathom that, for all intents and purposes, she is still a rookie in track and field competitions even though she has dominated her age class for the past five years.
The St. Mary High School star was competing in just her second heptathlon on the weekend and the stage she chose was the Canadian Junior track and field championships in Winnipeg. Entering the final day of competitions on Sunday, Lehner was well back in the pack, but a huge performance in the long jump — one of her specialties — got her into a position to challenge for a medal and after the javelin event, she was a mere 24 points out of first place.
With just the 800-metre race left on the schedule, Lehner not only had to win, but she had to do so within a certain time. Lehner won the race, but missed out on the gold medal by a couple of seconds to fall just 10 points short of the overall heptathlon title.
“To take the silver at nationals as a youth is amazing,” said Lehner’s coach Kelly Prins on Sunday in reference to the fact that competitors in the junior championship are 18 years of age and older. “She is a speed and power athlete. She has the rare energy system to do everything. She put it all together and is second in the country.”
Lehner has been competing in track and field for five years, but just recently decided she wanted to try the heptathlon. Her first competition was in Regina earlier this summer and she finished with a total of 4,441 points. In Winnipeg on the weekend she bettered that total by more than 300 points and set six personal best results along the way.
It has been a busy summer for Lehner and she still has two more major events to compete in. In addition to the national junior championships this past weekend, she was also in Calgary in early July for the national senior championships where she competed in just the 100-metre race and long jump. Lehner will be in Meadow Lake this week for the Saskatchewan Summer Games before heading to Prince Edward Island in late August for the national youth competitions.
Then it is back to school and with Lehner entering her senior year in September, post-secondary schools can begin recruiting her with scholarship offers and that is when it should get very interesting.