Prince Albert’s Lehner brings home gold at Canada West Track and Field Championship

Karson Lehner (left) won gold in the men's 300 metre dash at the Canada West Track and Field Championships. --submitted photo/Karson Lehner

Make it back to back first place finishes for Karson Lehner.

After winning gold in the men’s 300 metre race at the 2020 Canada West Track and Field Championship, Lehner put in a repeat performance, capturing gold in this year’s 300 metre race with the U of S Huskies.  His time of 33.27 seconds in the final was .42 seconds faster than second place.

With two championship winning times now under his belt, Lehner says his confidence has been steadily growing, especially now in his fourth year with the Huskies.

“It’s a bit of a step to take mentally with the sport,” Lehner said. “But just like everything else, it gets easier with experience. It’s fun to flash back on my rookie year when I would always be nervous before races compared to now in my fourth year of eligibility with the Huskies. I’ve noticed how much more calm and confident I am. The 300 metre race was really exciting for me.”

Growing up in Prince Albert and competing with the Carlton Crusaders track and field team, it’s certainly been a success story for Lehner. He was dominant in provincials during his junior year in 2015. He won provincial gold in the 200 metre dash, as well as bronze in the 100 metre dash. In his senior year in 2016, Lehner captured bronze in the 100 metre dash in a photo finish with a time of 10.99 seconds. The first and second place times in that race were 10.97 and 10.98 seconds respectively.

Taking his talents from the high school level into university, Lehner says it was a big jump at first.

“It’s a bit of a different atmosphere,” he said. “High school track and field is very competitive at districts and provincials, but once you get to university, you’re competing against some guys that are in their fourth or fifth years. They’re a little more experienced at this level, and it was a big transition for me, and I’ve handled it accordingly.”

Lehner’s training schedule also saw a big change. Compared to the high school level where you can only practice around the school’s schedule and in your own free time, the Huskies track and field program is committed to preparing athletes for big time races. He explained the biggest aspects to training at the university.

“Obviously speed is a very important aspect of our sport. We have systemic training days that will focus on some shorter runs so we can tune in that fast pace that we want to hit in our competitive runs. We have our tougher days too where we’re pushing our bodies to that lactic threshold that I experience in that 300 metre race. It’s a strenuous training program from time to time, but the results on the weekend were worth every last hour that I put into it.

“I’m a little bit older now, and a little stronger. You get a better feel for the training program. It’s kind of funny how more bodily aware you become as a track athlete. I’ve pushed through a lot of different injuries, and you pick up on a lot of little cues in your body. All of that adds up to getting a little more confidence when you step on the track, and I feel like I can just go out their and focus on the race plan that I have in my head and execute it.”

Lehner is looking forward to the Canadian National Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C. which runs from June 23-26. He will be competing in the 400 metre dash.

“Hopefully I can run a fast enough time to get a few looks from some of the senior teams and see where it goes from there in terms of my goal of representing Canada at some point.”