Kalena Soehn carried a smile from ear-to-ear that faithful day last spring.
It feels like a lifetime ago for the Red Deer trampolinist, who captured a dream come true in front of friends and family on the national stage.
Soehn won a gold medal on the trampoline for Alberta at the 2019 Canada Winter Games last march, a day she still remembers fondly.
“I just remember it being so much fun, getting to do the sport that I love in front of friends and family that don’t usually get to see me compete. The result I got was obviously amazing, on top of all that,” said Soehn, who also won a silver in the team mixed trampoline at the Games.
For her full-body of athletic accomplishments in 2019, Soehn was recognized as the Red Deer Advocate Female Athlete of the year.
Soehn was also won bronze at an Elite Canada event last year in the double-mini trampoline, as well as bronze in synchro at the Canadian Championships.
She finished just off the podium in fourth at the 2019 World Cup in Valladolid, Spain and represented Canada in Toyko at the 2019 Trampoline Championships. That last one, where she competed with some of Canada’s best, including olympian Rosie MacLennan, was one of the highlights of her year.
“That was just cool to be in Toyko, that was the second time I had competed at a world championship and I didn’t get the result I wanted at the second one, but it was still fun experience and I’m still just starting at the world level,” said Soehn, is also a coach at Thunder Country Trampoline and Gymnastics and is currently attending post-secondary school in Calgary.
“To have another chance to be out there and compete against high-level athletes like me was an honour.”
The other female nominees included Kyla Leibel, Kaylee Domoney and Emma Holmes.
While Soehn has been in the pursuit of trampoline glory since she was old enough to walk, Jeremiah Lauzon, the Red Deer Advocate Male Athlete of the Year is relatively early in the pursuit of glory in his sport.
Lauzon burst onto the sprinting scene last year, winning a national medal as well as competing on the international stage for the first time.
“I’m surprised I got the award out of all the athletes in Red Deer,” said the humble sprinter.
The 19-year-old won gold at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in the under-20, 200 metre race. At a meet in June, he also ran the fastest time by any under-20 runner in Canada in the 200 metre, finishing in just 20.90 seconds.
“The big goal now is to break 20, I don’t know if it will happen or not but those are the two big barriers in running the 200,” he said.
“If I hadn’t have broken 21, I wouldn’t be so sure about maybe eventually going to a (NCAA) Division I school or maybe running pro eventually. They’re all still very far away.”
Later in the summer last year, he made the final at the U20 Pan American Games in Costa Rica and finished just off the podium in fifth.
“It was cool meeting all the other Team Canada athletes, it was pretty surreal. Just being in Costa Rica, for athletics and not because I had to pay was a pretty weird and interesting experience,” he said.
All that success earned him an invite from Athletics Canada to compete as part of the Canadian Olympic Developmental 4X100 metre relay team, a group of 11 runners that would have vied for chance to represent Canada at the Olympics in Tokyo.
With all his success last season and early in his career Lauzon also earned a scholarship to Simon Fraser University, where he is part of the athletics team. They are the only school in Canada that currently competes in the NCAA Division II.
Other nominees for the male athlete included Jared Howse, Tanner Butler and Brandon Hagel.