LOGAN, Utah – Cole Lambourne is the first person to admit his senior season hasn’t gone as well as he hoped it would.
But that doesn’t mean he’s giving up on it. Not by a long shot.
“Track is kind of like a peak and valley type of sport,” said Lambourne, a sprinter on Utah State’s track & field team. “There have been times where I haven’t been performing well and there are other times I’m performing really well, so you just ride the highs as long as you can and try to keep your head down and get through the lows. This season, so far, hasn’t been the best, but it hasn’t been horrible. I just haven’t been meeting the expectations I had for myself, but the season is not over.”
The season continues next week for Lambourne and the Aggies when they head to the Golden State to compete in the 2016 Mountain West Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis, Calif. The four-day event gets underway on Wednesday, May 11, and concludes Saturday, May 14.
“There is no one that outworks him and I know that maybe this season isn’t going exactly like he wants, but he’s going to be running faster at the right time of the year, which is next week at the conference championship,” veteran Utah State head coach Gregg Gensel said. “I saw it at the Drake Relays and I saw it the week before at BYU. He just needs some good weather.”
After placing first or second 10 times during the outdoor season in 2015, Lambourne had extremely high expectations entering his senior campaign. However, the native of Riverton, Utah, has garnered just one first-place finish during the 2016 campaign and that came as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team at the Utah State-hosted Mark Faldmo Invitational.
“I haven’t been racing well every weekend like last year,” Lambourne said. “Hopefully, I’ll just race well at the end of the year. That’s what we’re working for.”
Lambourne and the rest of the Utah State sprinters are a big reason why the Aggies have high hopes heading into the conference championships. Utah State finished second at the MW Indoor Championships, narrowly losing to Air Force by one point.
Hoisting that team trophy come Saturday afternoon would mean the world to Lambourne and his teammates.
“We’ve had times we were close to winning and times we weren’t even close at all, so there have been times where you just have to go to the conference championship and focus on winning your individual events and not really on the team title,” Lambourne said. “This year has been cool because we have a shot to win the team title and go out with a bang, which would be awesome. If we walk away with a team title, I’ll be satisfied. I also want to win the conference championship in the 400 meters and lower my time so I have a really secure spot into the First Round of the NCAA Championships. I’m kind of borderline right now because we just haven’t had good weather, so we’re running times that are good enough to get us in, but if we would’ve had good weather they’d probably be a half-second faster.”
Lambourne, who ranks second all-time in school history with an outdoor time of 46.10 in the 400 meters, currently ranks fourth in the event in the MW with an altitude-adjusted time of 47.08. With that time, he is currently tied for 48th in the west and the top 48 individuals advance to the NCAA First Round.
However, he is part of Utah State’s 4x400m relay team that currently ranks 19th in the west with a time of 3:06.93 set last weekend at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I view the post-conference season as a whole different season,” Lambourne said. “The mindset is just different for me and you’re trying to advance through rounds and putting yourself in the best position to make it to where you want to be at the national meet. I’d like to walk away with some first-team All-American honors. I think we have two relays that are capable of it and I think I’m capable of it in the 400 open as long as things keep going well for me and we keep to the plan of ending the season strong.”
Lambourne earned second-team All-American honors a year ago after placing 15th with a time of 46.53 in the 400m at the NCAA Outdoor Finals in Eugene, Ore.
“Last year at the NCAA Finals, I had never seen a first-time person go to the championships with the confidence he had and it showed,” Gensel said. “He ran decent there and became a second-team All-American. It was pretty impressive.”
Lambourne’s junior campaign was his breakout season. Not only did he garner second-team All-American honors, but he also earned first-team all-MW honors after winning the 400m (46.31) and 4x400m (3:07.48) at the Outdoor Championships.
During the indoor season, Lambourne earned first-team all-MW honors as he won the 400m (personal-best time of 46.55) and 4x400m (3:10.20) at the Indoor Championships.
“Cole Lambourne is the epitome of what a coach wants in an athlete,” Gensel said. “He’s enthusiastic about his event, he tries to get educated about it so he’s knowledgeable and he knows what he wants to try and accomplish. On top of all that, he’s got talent given to him that very few athletes receive, so over the course of his career here he’s been one of the most outstanding sprinters in our conference.”
In the summer of 2015, Lambourne represented the United States at the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, competing in the 400m and 4x400m.
“Overall, that experience was just great to get to meet some other athletes and represent the country and travel to a different country,” Lambourne said. “I had never been to a different country before.”
While Lambourne ranks second in school history in the outdoor 400m, he ranks first all-time in the 4×400 with a time of 3:05.28 and has the third- and fourth-fastest times (40.20; 40.32) in the 4x100m.
As far as indoor marks, Lambourne ranks first all-time in Utah State history in the 4x400m (3:08.89) and has the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-fastest times in the event (3:08.99; 3:09.48; 3:11.23; 3:13.31). He also ranks third all-time in the 400m (46.55) and 10th in the 200m (21.62).
For the past two seasons, Lambourne has had the privilege of sharing the track with his younger brother, Clay Lambourne, who is a sophomore distance runner at Utah State.
“It’s been awesome,” Cole Lambourne said. “I love having my brother on the team. He’s my roommate this year and it’s been awesome. I like watching my brother develop as a runner and succeed, too. I miss him this year because he doesn’t train with the sprinters. That kid is a stud and it’s kind of sad that I won’t be on his team anymore.”
Lambourne also excels in the classroom as he has earned academic all-Mountain West/WAC honors three times (2013-15), to go along with earning USTFCCCA All-Academic Team honors and being named a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete, both in 2015.
Lambourne was a five-time letterwinner in cross country and track & field at Riverton High School and a four-time state champion – twice in the 400m, once in the 200m and once in the 4x400m relay. He was a member of Riverton’s 2010 state championship team, as well as the 2012 runner-up squad.
The son of John and Tammy Lambourne, who enjoyed playing the drums in high school, will graduate this Saturday with a double major in business administration and marketing.
“I was never really that good,” said Lambourne, referring to the drums. “But I was decent and took lessons every week. It was just a hobby outside of sports and school.”