CLEMSON, S.C. — Freshman sprinter Cordell Lamb collected a gold medal in the men’s 400 at the USA Junior Championships on June 27 in Eugene, Ore. In doing so, Lamb became the fourth USA Junior Champion from the Tiger men’s program. The previous three — Terrance Herrington, Jeremichael Williams and Todd Matthews — combined to earn 16 All-America honors at Clemson.
Running out of Lane 8 at Oregon’s Hayward Field, Lamb produced a personal best 46.44 to outlast My’lik Kerley of Stephen F. Austin (46.47) at the line. The victory gave Lamb a place on Team USA’s roster for the upcoming Pan American Junior Championships, held July 31 through Aug. 2 in Edmonton, Canada.
We caught up with the Miami, Fla., native to discuss the USA Junior title and much more on Tuesday.
You were faced with the difficult task of running out of Lane 8 … did you surprise yourself by winning the 400 at USA Juniors?
Lamb: I didn’t surprise myself; I expected to do as well as I did. But winning out of Lane 8 was probably a surprise. I ran a lot of events this past season out of Lane 8 or Lane 1, regardless if it was the 4×400 or the open 400. Coach A.T. (Althea Thomas) had me well prepped for it. We thought about Kala Funderburk at Florida State, who won the NCAA title in the women’s 400 out of Lane 8, so we thought it was possible.
Did you know you had won when you crossed the line, because you were only separated by .03 seconds?
Lamb: I was watching the clock, because I wanted to run a faster time. I did reach a personal best. It was a great race, any way you look at it.
By virtue of the win, you earn the right to represent the United States at the Pan American Junior Championships. How exciting is that?
Lamb: Oh, it’s amazing. I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t do anything but clap and thank the Lord. The fans were very welcoming. It was an amazing environment; probably one of the best I’ve ever run in. I was thankful to be atop that podium, no matter where I placed.
In looking ahead, what do you most look forward to about the experience?
Lamb: My birthday is the day after I leave Miami. But it should be fun to experience that in Canada, and to be able to compete for my country around my birthday. I’m looking forward to the experience that I’ll gain from running across the country with and against people I haven’t known. I want that good feeling of competition.
Let’s look at your freshman season — how would you evaluate it in totality?
Lamb: Looking at its entirety, I’d say it was okay. I didn’t put down the times I wanted. But I did PR in every different race I ran, so I’m thankful for that. It helped me gain confidence. And it showed me that I can do everything I’ve set out to do after leaving high school.
What do you think of Clemson’s future in men’s track & field, particularly in your event areas?
Lamb: What Coach (Mark) Elliott and Coach A.T. are doing in the 400 is amazing. We’re building a powerhouse group. As a 400 runner, you can run up or down. It’s a blessing to get so many versatile athletes. We’re just ready for next season; I can’t wait for it.
As someone who isn’t from Clemson, describe your first year of experience as a Tiger.
Lamb: The experience was definitely a culture shock, but that’s what I expected coming to college. You have to be open hearted and expect the change. When it happens, you have to adjust. Academically, it’s definitely a challenge, and that’s why you come to college. But Clemson has a lot of resources to help and encourage you. If Clemson is a possibility for you, I would definitely come. The team is family oriented and warm hearted, and we all get along and perform well. We encourage each other, and only want to see each other get better.
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