There is clearly no shortage of talent on the University of Regina track team this year, and Lex Ewen proves that.
Ewen secured himself a chance to compete in the CIS championships – coming up at the beginning of March – by hitting the CIS standard in long jump of 7.09 metres. That is a career best, and he is one of only three athletes in the nation to hit that distance this season.
If that isn’t impressive enough, in the summer of 2011, Ewen decided to have a scope performed on a minor knee injury, and even though he said his knee is right around 100 per cent, it is still a notable factor that he had that procedure done and is performing so strongly.
“I feel like I’m 60 years old when it’s cold outside and my knee is sore,” Ewen joked.
But it is no laughing matter for his opponents, as Ewen is currently the only Canada West athlete this season to hit the CIS standard.
Although many circumstances have surrounded his strong performance, Ewen believes track and field coach Bruce McCannel can take some credit.
“He is the best coach I have ever had, that is for sure,” Ewen said.
Along with the help of McCannel, Ewen stayed away from the track this past summer and concentrated on his own personal training, focusing on getting healthy and strong.
“It really wears on a guy when you are doing something for 12 months of the year. So, taking some time off, that was nice,” he said.
“When you see someone on your team have a big jump or a fast time, it motivates you to do the same because you see their reaction and how it feels.” – Lex Ewen
Coach McCannel easily noticed the difference Ewen’s personal training had on his game.
“The time he put into improving his strength and fitness over the summer has combined well with his consistency in training during the season,” he said.
But, meeting the CIS standard does not make it exceedingly easier for the third-year track and field athlete. Although he does not have to worry about qualifying for nationals in long jump, he must train and prepare as if he hasn’t reached the bar yet.
McCannel calculates his athletes training so that they peak for Canada West and CIS nationals.
Although Ewen may be happy with his past performance, he knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“It’s exciting that I have jumped so far this early because the way my training goes I haven’t peaked,” Ewen said. “My body isn’t prepared, training wise, to jump my furthest until Canada West or nationals.”
Aside from personal achievements, the current goal for the track and field team is to win Canada West.
Last year, the team came in second to the University of Calgary Dinos, so many of the Cougar track athletes are looking for vengeance on the team that beat them, and to regain the title they previously held.
Ewen’s achievement does help the Cougars overall by bolstering team’s CIS ranking, as well as inspiring his teammates.
“When you see someone on your team have a big jump or a fast time, it motivates you to do the same because you see their reaction and how it feels,” he said.
With the Golden Bear Open in Edmonton behind the team, it seems as if Ewen’s performance may have helped.
Second-year Arthur Ward jumped 14.18 metres, just one centimeter under the triple jump standard auto qualifier. Fellow second-year Connor Bloom had a personal best of 7.06 seconds in the 60-meter dash, and third-year Matt Johnson placed first in the 1500m with a time of 3:57:61 to break the Cougar record of 3:58:28.
And although Ewen dubbed himself the “cheerleader” of last weekend – since he decided to not compete – second-year Ahmed Alkabary represented the long jumpers with a jump of 7.07 metres, just 2 cm shy of hitting the CIS standard himself.
Overall, the Cougars seem well on their way to being a force to reckon with at Canada West, and with meets still to come in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, and Regina, they might have a real chance at breaking some records.
Photo by Arthur Ward