Last fall, when he was just beginning his freshman year of high school at Midway, Michael McLamb decided to try out for the cross country team. His older cousin Andrew Shirley was on the team and had convinced McLamb to give it a shot.
Before then, Michael had never been a runner.
“I guess I am now,” he says.
There’s no doubt that today, less than a year later, being a runner has become something of an identity for McLamb as he trains for the upcoming cross country season.
Last year he went from being a beginning runner to one of the key pieces of a Midway cross country team that ended up finishing second in their region and becoming the first-ever Raider cross country team to make it to the state championships.
This success was, in part, what prompted Michael to make running a year-round activity as he joined the winter and spring track teams.
McLamb had no trouble continuing his new-found success on the track; this spring he set a new school record for the two-mile.
Before last fall Michael had never given any thought to running. He played basketball and baseball and even struggled through his basketball conditioning.
“All that stuff is easy now,” he says.
McLamb’s success wasn’t immediate. When he first joined the cross country team, he found it a struggle to finish beyond the middle of the pack; he also had no idea where it would lead.
“When I started, it was just a sport that I wanted to try,” he says. “I went in thinking I was just going to do it and see how it went. It was hard at first.”
At one meet, however, he flipped a switch.
“At the beginning, I saw Caleb (Sanders) getting second and first in all the meets,” he recalls. “I was wondering how he did it. I didn’t think I’d ever do it.
“One meet I just decided that I didn’t want to get tenth, and at the last part of the meet I sprinted up and got third. Ever since I’ve stayed up there.”
His newfound speed was paired with consistancy as the season continued, and McLamb and his team began to move up in the ranks and improve on their times. By the time regionals came around last October, the Raiders knew that they had a shot to finish well enough to make it to states.
They did just that, qualifying by finishing ahead of Princeton High School and Raeligh Charter to take second place.
It was at the state championships, however, that McLamb would find disappointment as, during the race, he tripped and sprained his ankle.
But instead of letting the injury put him down for good, Michael used it as motivation. Rather than playing basketball in the winter, he elected to run winter track to continue to improve on his times. This decision eventually led to a new school record in the spring.
There is no secret to McLamb’s sudden ascention.
“(Before a meet) I go through my stretches, go through my warm-ups and get out there and run,” he says. “When I’m running, I try not to focus on being tired or how many laps I have left. I just run.”
This success has, however, made Michael realize what kind of a role he wants running to play in his life.
McLamb now devotes most of the months of the year towards his goal of making it back to states and, this time, emerging as a champion.
While he says he wants to go to law school at Campbell, Michael admits that a track scholorship could change his mind.
“It plays a big role for me now,” he says. “It takes up my whole year. A big part of my summer is training. But I love it.”
As he has gone from a novice runner to a school record-holder in less than a year, there’s no doubt that Michael McLamb is now a runner. He is not satisfied with what he has done so far, however.
“I want to come back this year and win a state championship,” he says.
With three years of high school remaining, as well as a work ethic and love for what he does, the odds seem to be in his favor.