Editor’s note: Our head coaches have been invited to submit one nominee for the MLT Athlete of the Year from their team from the past school year. The Murray Ledger & Times will open an online poll for the readers to choose one athlete from each school (Calloway High School, Murray High School and Murray State). Keep reading our series and watch for the opportunity to cast your vote.
MURRAY— Murray Ledger & Times Athlete of the Year nominee Tamdra Lawrence ended her Racer track career undefeated in the 100-meter dash. As a four-time OVC champion and the undisputed fastest woman in OVC track for four years, Lawrence came a long way from when she first started at 10 years old.
“I started running track when I was around 10 years old,” she said. “I always knew that I was fast and once my parents realized it they decided to put me in track.”
During her high school career, track wasn’t her only sport, but her speed helped make her successful at every sport she did.
“I played softball, soccer and basketball,” Lawrence said. “In all of these sports, my speed was always pointed out. I decided to have track as my main sport because I was good at running and I really enjoyed competing.”
Expectations for Lawrence were high when she was in high school. Everyone expected her to go on the college and be successful and that helped her build confidence in herself.
“When I was in high school, people would make comments like, ‘Tamdra is going D1,’ so, hearing that and knowing that I was good at what I did led me to believe that I could make it to the next level,” Lawrence said. “When I saw my times drop as I took the sport more seriously, I knew that I could be great in college.”
She wasn’t always a 100-meter sprinter either, it wasn’t until her sophomore year that she swapped from a 400-meter and 200-meter runner to the 100.
“It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I convinced my coach to let me run the 100,” Lawrence said. “I never liked the 400, but I was good at it when I was young. As I got older, I didn’t want to run it, so I stopped and became just a 200 runner, then a 100 and 200 runner.”
Her talent and speed caught the eye of several schools, but at the end of the recruiting process, there was only one choice for her: Murray State.
“When I came on my visit, I really enjoyed the team and coaches,” Lawrence said. “They were all really nice, and unlike high school, where track was just something to do, these people really loved the sport and this team. They seemed to want me there just as much as I wanted to be there.”
Her career at Murray State was one of the most dominant in Racer history. As a freshman, she won the 100 and the 200 at the OVC Outdoor Championships. Then, in her sophomore year, she repeated as champion in the 100 and 200, ran a personal best time of 11.51 which ranked third-best all-time in Racer history and set a personal record in the long jump at 5.37 meters.
As a back-to-back champion, Lawrence had quite the target on her back. Competitors were gunning for her and her times.
“People think, ‘Oh, she did it once, she can do it again,’ but in reality, that’s the hardest thing to do because it’s not about doing what you did the year before, it’s about being better than you were the year before in order to maintain that title,” Lawrence said. “I had people coming for my spot every year, so that meant had I to work twice as hard as I did before.”
Junior year came and Lawrence was once again the favorite to win the 100 headed into the OVC Outdoor Championships. She did not disappoint, but she was unable to keep a lock on the 200. She finished second in the 200 with a personal best 23.43 which ranked third all-time in Racer history.
For her outdoor career, that 200 loss would be the only championship she didn’t win in individual competition.
She returned with a vengeance her senior year last season and racked up on the wins and accolades en route to an OVC Outdoor team championship. Lawrence won the 100, 200, and was part of the 4x100-meter really team that finished first. Her career-best time of 11.36 during the season qualified her for the NCAA East regionals where she finished 37th. When it was all said and done, she was named the OVC Track Athlete of the Year, the OVC Track Athlete of the Championship, and she became the first female in OVC history to win the 11 four years in a row. Nobody could ever catch Lawrence.
“My favorite memory from Murray State Track was when we won the Outdoor OVC in 2019,” Lawrence said. “It felt really good to win as a team, it meant a lot to be apart of that team and will be something I will remember forever.”
Her performances were a result of the work and time she put into getting better and she said that the stuff that went into prepping for a meet was where her true leadership showed.
“I believe I was a team leader not by the success I’ve had in this sport but by showing everyone else that I cared about their success just as much as mine,” Lawrence said. “I tried to be encouraging at practice or meets and let my teammates know that they could finish that workout or race.”
On the horizon for the speedy Lawrence is law school and plenty of training as she attempts to start a professional career as a track athlete.