April 11, 2012
By Robin Thuringer
CARBONDALE, IL - Accomplishing the unexpected has been the theme throughout J.C. Lambert's illustrious throwing career as a member of the Southern Illinois track and field team.
The multi-sport high school athlete never had any intention of becoming a collegiate thrower. In fact, the Harrisburg native had hoped to play football.
"I didn't start throwing until midway through my junior year of high school and really got into it my senior year, but I wanted to play football in college," said Lambert. "Coach (John) Smith came out and talked to me and really encouraged me to come walk on to the team."
After setting a Harrisburg High School throwing record and placing fifth in the state his senior year, Lambert walked on as a freshman to the SIU track and field team in the fall of 2008.
"No one recruited J.C. for track but I knew his background in wrestling and football and saw something in him and knew he could be successful here," said SIU throws coach John Smith.
Smith's intuition was correct -- Lambert's freshman season saw immediate success. Lambert was an NCAA regional qualifier in the hammer throw and placed fifth at the United States Track and Field Junior Nationals.
For the first time in his life, Lambert fully dedicated himself to the sport, and his training paid dividends his sophomore season. He claimed the Missouri Valley Conference titles in the shot put and weight throw and competed at the NCAA Championships, placing 13th in the nation, garnering All-American status.
"J.C. has been committed from the beginning," said Smith. "He has been here every summer and every break training, and has become a true student of the sport."
The dedication Lambert displayed earned him the privilege of becoming a full scholarship student-athlete at Southern Illinois his junior year. He took another step forward as a junior, placing fourth in the weight throw at the 2011 NCAA Nationals and breaking a school record in the process.
"I have just tried to be a hard worker and have dedicated myself to the sport and to Coach Smith's program," said Lambert.
The results speak for themselves. He is a four-time NCAA All-American, five-time NCAA national qualifier, and six-time MVC champion.
Lambert completed his senior indoor season one month ago, finishing second in the nation in the weight throw with a toss of 72-1.0". Lambert was edged out of a national title by only two inches by Marcel Lomnicky of Virginia Tech, who recorded a throw of 72-3.75″.
Lambert, or "Juice", as he is affectionately referred to by his teammates, hopes to finish his career this spring with a top-five finish at the NCAA Outdoor Nationals and qualify to compete in the Olympic Trials.
"J.C. has had an incredible career here and should be proud of himself," said Coach Smith. "It will be exciting to watch him these next few months and in the future."