Lehman knows he can improve

Jon Lehman set a school record in the weight throw earlier this season.

Minnesota thrower Jon Lehman throws at the Jack Johnson Classic on Saturday at the University Field House.

Daily File Photo; Jaak Jensen

Minnesota thrower Jon Lehman throws at the Jack Johnson Classic on Saturday at the University Field House.

by Jack Satzinger

Nearly two weeks ago, Jon Lehman queued up in the throwing pit before tossing 22.09 meters in the weight throw. Neither Lehman nor throws coach Lynden Reder was thrilled with the senior thrower’s execution.

His throw, however, made history, setting a new school record.

“We certainly know he can throw a lot farther,” Reder said.

Though throwing events are usually associated with intensity, huge muscles and loud yells, Lehman said he needs to focus more, rather than get pumped up.

“I need to just relax, because sometimes I get a little too excited,” he said. “It’s such a technical event that if you get a little too pumped up, it’s not necessarily good for your technique.”

Reder said it’s easy for throwers to get caught in the moment when the adrenaline is flowing. He’s seen what Lehman is capable of in practice, but he said in meets, his technique sometimes becomes sloppy.

“That’s why we have these early meets,” Reder said. “Your body feels quite different when the chips are on the table.”

Lehman is trying to become more precise in competition but is also focusing on details off the field that can help him improve. He said that includes eating right, getting enough sleep, training right and being smart overall.

“I think over time, some good results should happen,” he said.

This season, Lehman is trying to do more than just shatter records — he wants to win.

“I want to be a Big Ten champion,” he said. “I haven’t done that yet.”

Lehman also wants to win an NCAA championship. A few years ago, that goal seemed unattainable.

He finished fifth in the weight throw at last year’s NCAA meet, with a mark well more than a meter short of his new record.

“When he was a freshman, I don’t know if I would have anticipated him being a school-record holder and a guy that’s going to contend for a Big Ten championship [and] a national championship.” Reder said.

Gophers head coach Steve Plasencia agreed and said the improvements in Lehman’s throws have been staggering.

“He’s been throwing so well and has progressed so much over his career that it’s fun to watch,” Plasencia said.

Reder said the leaps Lehman has made at Minnesota already peg him as one of the program’s best throwers ever.

That legacy could grow even more this year with a Big Ten or NCAA title.

“It’s something that we’ve really worked hard for all fall and through the winter here,” Lehman said. “I think if we can really hit our stride in the next few weeks and get some technical things worked out, we’ll have a really good chance to do that.”