Four-Time All-American Elise Lambert Places Third in NCAA 800 Meters

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Nichol Weylman-Farwell, Managing Sports Editor

Despite placing third in the 800 meter at this year’s NCAA Indoor Track Championships and becoming an All-American for the fourth time in her career, Elise Lambert ‘22 seems remarkably nonchalant about her most recent success.

“I don’t know, sometimes it’s kind of just another meet, just another day at the office, but the stakes are a lot higher and the payoff is a lot higher too,” she said with a slight grin, adding that “the feeling of crossing the line third at nationals is unbeatable [though].” 

With five appearances at nationals, I suppose the thrill of it all can wear off rather quickly; regardless, Lambert loves the hard work and support that comes with competing at these meets.

“The support going into it, having everyone text me and hype me up is just really exciting, because it’s the biggest meet of the year,” Lambert explained. “All season is directed towards getting there as well. It’s always exciting to go and see the work pay off.”

Diligence is the ethos of Lambert’s career as a runner. Her mother ran in college, so hitting the pavement hard runs in Elise’s blood. The young Lambert started her career at the age of 4, and from there it took off, starting with a recreational team and then moving on to a Junior Olympic program and then her middle and high school teams. She said that while some Division I schools took notice, including the University of New Hampshire and Holy Cross, Bates “was definitely the way to go” because of the strength of its middle distance program.

Jennifer “Jay” Hartshorn, who has led the women’s cross country and track teams for 16 years, said that Lambert’s drive to succeed is impressive, and she’s shown that from the moment she stepped foot on campus.

“If anything, Elise is really intense and a really hard worker, so even though at the beginning she was like, ‘These workouts are too fast,’ she really had a breakout by the middle of the year at the New England Division III Championships, and she went from like 2:17 to 2:13,” Hartshorn explained.

During the middle of her sophomore year, Lambert reached another gear entirely and qualified for nationals in the 800 meters for the first time. 

“Even though she was running pretty fast, she hadn’t qualified for nationals [before then], and I think we, her moreso, were both pretty frustrated,” Hartshorn explained. “Then she finally had her race where she was like ‘I need to go out and own this more and make this happen.’” 

Unfortunately, just as Lambert’s collegiate career was beginning to hit supersonic speeds, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt. During quarantine, however, the grind never stopped; according to Hartshorn, once Bates reopened in the fall of 2020, Lambert “hadn’t missed a beat.”

“She has a really unbelievable ability to push herself, which sets her apart,” the coach explained. “She has to be busy and she has to be working towards a goal. She’s also become, in the past two years, pretty coachable. She will do what I think, or what we both think, she needs to do to get better, and is up for a challenge while trusting the process.”

Predictably, this work ethic has also translated to a high standard of academic achievement, as Lambert is a three-time All-Academic NESCAC selection.

“I’m really driven in everything that I do,” Lambert said. “I commit to everything. I’ve always kind of been the straight-A student with the best grades, and whatnot.”

According to Lambert, maintaining a schedule chock-full of meets, school work and hours of practice is rather difficult, but she “makes do.”

“A lot of early mornings and late nights,” she added.

Lambert has one season remaining in her Bates career: outdoor track. With that, she hopes to break the school record in the 800 meters and put herself in a position to continue running post-graduation.

“I’m hoping to run fast enough to qualify for a racing team after I graduate, and keep competing post-grad, then obviously get to nationals and do better than I did last year,” she said. “And, knock on wood, hopefully get that 0.2 seconds off my time [in the 800 m], and maybe get a school record in something.”

Ultimately, in spite of the sweat, late hours and trophies, Lambert will remember the fond memories she made with her team the most.

“All of my favorite memories from Bates definitely have to do with my teammates. [One of whom is] probably going to cross country nationals my sophomore year. With the group of people we had, everyone was so goofy. Just hanging out, I think we built a pillow fort in one of our hotel rooms. Just a really good time. I always have a good time when I’m with my teammates.”