MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – If you ever want to know about the impressive resume of Penn State Harrisburg's Sarah Lehman, all you have to do is ask her… dad.
Lehman, a sophomore jumper for Penn State Harrisburg's women's track & field program, is already one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history. As a matter of fact, she's been racking up notable accolades since her days as a multi-sport athlete at Cumberland Valley High School. Just don't expect her to list off any of those particular awards because she has no interest in keeping track of them.
So allow us. Lehman's accomplishments, as follows:
Sarah Lehman Awards & Honors
- Fifth-place finish in the Triple Jump at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships
- U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division III All-American
- USTFCCCA Division III Outdoor Mideast Regional Field Athlete of the Year
- USTFCCCA Division III Indoor All-Region (Long Jump, Triple Jump)
- USTFCCCA Division III Outdoor All-Region (Long Jump, Triple Jump)
- Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Indoor Record Holder (Triple Jump)
- CAC Outdoor Record Holder (Triple Jump)
- CAC Indoor Track & Field Rookie of the Year
- CAC Outdoor Track & Field Rookie of the Year
- CAC Indoor Champion (Triple Jump)
- CAC Outdoor Champion (Triple Jump)
- CAC Indoor All-Conference First Team (Triple Jump)
- CAC Outdoor All-Conference First Team (Triple Jump)
- CAC Indoor All-Conference Second Team (Long Jump)
- CAC Outdoor All-Conference Second Team (Long Jump)
Not bad, especially considering she did all that during a freshman campaign that got underway well after preseason practice began. Why the late start? Because following a high-school playing career that included a couple of PIAA Girls' Basketball Championships and success at the PIAA State and District levels in track & field, the Mechanicsburg, Pa. native was ready to leave athletics behind her.
"I wasn't planning on doing any sports here," she said about her initial decision to step away from athletics. "I was excited to be able to focus on school and maybe join some clubs or something because all I did was sports in middle school and high school. So I wasn't even really thinking about track."
Her plans included an extra emphasis on academics and involvement with other organziations on campus. Restlessness eventually set in, however, and after spending a few too many hours in the library, Lehman's itch for track & field returned. She admitted missing the sport, prompting her to reach out to Penn State Harrisburg track & field head coach Danielle Lynch. Almost immediately, Lehman made a massive impact on the program, the conference and the national scene.
The first official triple jump attempt of her collegiate career put the rest of the CAC on notice. With one bound in December of 2017, Lehman broke the conference record in the event with an effort of 11.33 meters, besting a mark that had stood for nearly two years. Things only got better from there, as her indoor campaign included a conference championship, CAC Rookie of the Year honors, all-region recognition and an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Title. Her outdoor season proved an even better sequel, as she captured another conference title, her second CAC Rookie of the Year award and another ECAC Championship before being named the USTFCCCA Mideast Region Field Athlete of the Year. Lehman put an exclamation point on the spring by earning all-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships in May.
Most student-athletes can only dream of a career like that, let alone a single season. For Lehman, however, being nationally renowned in her sport of competition isn't a motivating force. As a matter of fact, when it comes to her accolades, she's usually the last to know.
"Before I got here, I didn't follow college sports so I didn't even know what an all-American was," she admitted with a laugh. "The day of the meet, they told me top eight is all-America and I'm like 'I don't know what that is but great,'" she said with a smile.
Unlike most college students her age, Lehman isn't enamored with the instant gratification social media affords. Facebook's not her style. She has no Instagram or Twitter accounts. Aside from the occasional glance at Snapchat, she's an anomaly when compared to her peers. Her hope is to spend less time on her phone. That's why, she says, unless someone else fills her in on her latest in a long line of awards won, there's a high probability she'd never know.
"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," said the 20-year old, laughing. "If I win player of the week or something I usually don't realize it. I don't have any social media so unless people send me stuff and tell me I probably won't know."
Surprisingly, track & field honors were the last athletic-related awards Lehman expected to rack up in college. As a teenager at Cumberland Valley, she also excelled as a girls' basketball and girls' soccer player. Her contribution to CV's well-known run of three consecutive state titles on the hardwood stands out but it was her soccer career, more so than hoops or track, that she thought might continue following high school. Joining the Eagles' track & field team was a way to stay in shape for soccer. Then, something unexpected happened; turns out she was having fun.
"Basketball took up more time and I was never able to do indoor track," she said about her involvement with track & field. "So track was always kind of second and basketball came first. Looking back I probably should have made it the other way around because track has obviously worked out better. Track was never that serious to me so now I kind of feel like I'm trying to catch up."
And catching up she is. Despite stating that she was never "amazing" in high school, Lehman picked up this whole jumping thing in a big way in a short amount of time. Now in her second season at Penn State Harrisburg, she's continued right where she left off following her freshman outing. Yet, as impressive as her list of achievements is, it's her easygoing disposition, unassuming nature and genuine enjoyment of the sport that stand out above all.
All it takes is a few minutes of chatting with Lehman to realize that the young woman isn't interested in personal achievement as a measuring stick. It's just not a part of her personality. Her humility is apparent in the way she shrugs off her accomplishments. Despite being her own toughest critic ("I'm so hard on myself"), she has no problem laughing at herself. The science major has a penchant for the earth and would like to explore geoscience or environmental law following graduation. When she's not successfully studying ("There's always something to study"), she's catching up with horror movies ("I see them right as they come out") or grocery shopping with her mom. But when she's not checking in on Michael Myers' latest offering or trying to get ahead on homework, you can most likely find her impressing in the jump pit.
"Like I said, I didn't come here for track and I didn't join track to get titles or anything like that," she said. "It was just something to do for fun to keep me in shape. Obviously it's more than that now but I didn't realize all that extra stuff came with it."
Thus far this indoor season, Lehman has posted the ninth-best mark in the nation in the triple jump and has twice been named the CAC Women's Field Athlete of the Week. But don't ask her to comment on those accomplishments because chances are, she's oblivious to them. If you need information regarding her record-setting career, you'd be better off checking with her father.
"He would know," she said about her dad with a smile. "He's the one who will go to Christmas dinner and tell everyone everything I did. Stuff I don't even know about. I can be humble because he's showy enough for the both of us."
Well, at least there's one Lehman excited about it.
Lehman and her teammates return to action this weekend when they travel to Bucknell for the Bison Open and Multi beginning Friday afternoon, Jan. 25.