By Tom Zulewski
Iron County Today
When Cedar High senior Jensen Lambert sat down and made a list of the good and bad things in two of his school choices, there was one constant that helped the cross country and track runner find what he was looking for.
With a familiar environment in Cedar City and his father, Adam, serving as the school’s director of bands, Lambert chose to sign with Southern Utah’s track and cross country teams Tuesday afternoon. The senior built his cross country resume from a 29th-place finish as a sophomore to fifth in the 4A boys meet last month.
“I was deadlocked between Utah State and SUU for a long time,” Lambert said in a phone interview. “I would lean USU over one weekend, SUU before that. USU far away from home – pro. USU far away from home – con. “My personal goals aligned with SUU. I loved how driven they were and wanted to be a part of that.”
Lambert was born in Provo and lived in Texas and Nebraska for seven years before arriving in Cedar City when he reached seventh grade. He admitted the timing of the signing as a bit of a surprise, but knowing his father will be around campus aided in the decision.
“I didn’t expect to sign this early,” Lambert said. “Once the offers were given, I had to jump-start things a bit. I realized Cedar was the town for me and it came down to familiarity. I like SUU and went with what I know.”
Lambert will be serving his two-year LDS Church mission first before joining the T-Birds. He’ll start with the indoor track season in 2020, then join forces with cross country – who advanced to the NCAA national meet this year for the fourth straight season – by 2021.
“I want to be part of a team like that,” Lambert said. “USU made their first national meet ever this year, so they’re looking to be a contender. SUU was established already, and that’s the future I’m looking at.”
Reaching the dream didn’t involve a lot of natural gifts for Lambert, which only added to his achievement that culminated with Tuesday’s signing.
“I wasn’t necessarily talented right off the bat,” Lambert said. “It was a lot of miles, a lot of increments getting better. As a sophomore and junior, I thought (the signing) could be a reality. I proved to myself that you can work hard for that high level of success, not just rely on natural talent alone.”
With Eric Houle as his coach, Lambert knows coming in to the program as a returned LDS missionary will only add to the challenges.
“The process for returned missionaries is long,” he said. “With time trials and interviews, he’ll keep us motivated in the direction we’re supposed to go. He’s focused on the team, the individuals, and making them comfortable.”