There’s a moment before the final race of every track meet.
Runners swirl the starting line, shaking out their legs in anticipation. With tape to mark their handoff spots still attached to their legs, relay members go through a spike and uniform inspection before nervously taking their spots.
Riverton’s Cole Lambourne, the defending state champion at 400m, is primed to defend his state title and possibly break a decadelong state record.
After struggling in his preliminary heat, Lambourne won the Simplot 400m title with a time of 49.55 seconds, edging the winner of the championship heat by just four-hundredths of a second.
After winning the UHSTCA Invitational at the Kearns Olympic Oval on February 4, the Riverton boys 4x400 team, made up of three sophomores and one senior, has its eyes set on a state title and Class 5A state record.
Clay Lambourne runs the third leg for the Silverwolves, handing off to his older brother in the anchor leg.
But one team remains unfailingly calm.
Amid the prerace flurry, the Riverton boys 4 x 400m team sit cross-legged in the traditional circle around a baton placed in the grass. In unison, they close their eyes, raise their arms and let out a resounding "Om."
"We like to meditate before the race," says sophomore third leg Clay Lambourne. "It’s sort of a joke for us."
The joke’s over when the gun sounds.
The Silverwolves move from meditation to blazing turns of speed. Last season, the team, then made up of three freshmen and one junior, stormed to an impressive second-place finish. Throughout the season, they inched closer to the state record time of 3:18.50 set by a 1999 Copper Hills team that included former Riverton coach Jake Garlick.
The Silverwolves are already on the right track.
On Feb. 4, with Syracuse and Davis right on their tails, they won the UHSTCA Invitational at the Olympic Oval in Kearns with a time of 3:25.28. Just last week, they were in good position to win on the big stage of the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho.
Heading into the third leg, Riverton held a slight lead before Clay Lambourne was tripped in transition on the second turn of his first lap. After pulling himself from the banked wooden track, he caught up to one runner before handing the baton to his older brother. During the final two laps, Cole Lambourne chased down two more teams to turn a lost race into a fourth-place finish.
But the Silverwolves didn’t go home without a victory in the prestigious indoor meet.
After struggling in his preliminary heat, Cole Lambourne won the Simplot 400m title with a time of 49.55 seconds, edging the winner of the championship heat by four-hundredths of a second. He’d done even better in recent weeks, recording a 48.80 at the UHSTCA Invite — just shy of his 48.28 personal best.
It’s the fastest he’s been at this point in the season. And now, anchored by another cross-country season of base mileage, the elder Lambourne has a shot to break the decade-old 5A state record of 47.01.
"He’s off to a great start," coach Mike Hutchings said. "But right now, we’re just talking about getting better and working on time goals."
"I’ve got to learn to run harder by myself, to push myself when no one is there by me," Cole Lambourne said. "But I know the competition will be there. I think I’ll be right there, too."
Still, he knows it’s a lofty goal — and a mark he’ll likely have to eclipse well before the state meet.
"If I’m feeling comfortable, I’ll try to take a meet to focus on and make it happen," he said. "But we’re racing to win. At state, it’s all about helping the team win."
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