Clark’s drive turns her into top sprinter

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Clark’s drive turns her into top sprinter

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Carey Reeder, Contributing writer

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As a track athlete, time is everything. For sophomore sprinter Tamara Clark, her short time on campus has been filled with wins, records and a constant growing confidence in herself.

Hailing from High Point, North Carolina, Clark set school records in the 100 and 200 meters at High Point Central High School and stacked up seven state championships in both her indoor and outdoor seasons her junior and senior year.

Clark also won the AAU national championship in the 100 and 200 meters in 2016 to cap her impressive prep accolades.

Her first indoor season at Alabama was in 2018, and Clark had some trouble finding her way early on.

“I was struggling the most with was confidence in myself,” Clark said. “I didn’t do well in indoor, and my confidence was even lower.”

When the 2018 outdoor season came around, Clark put herself on the map as one of the top sprinters in the Southeastern Conference. She won three events over the course of the season and qualified for the SEC Outdoor Championships (SECs).

At SECs, Clark set the school record in the 100 meters with a time of 11.02 and earned All-SEC honors with her performance in both the 100 and 200 meters – the first woman since Pauline Davis (1987,1989) to earn all-conference honors in both the 100 and 200 meters. Clark added a first team All-American selection in the 4×100 relay to cap her freshman season.

“That outdoor season boost my confidence in myself a lot,” Clark said.

Alabama sprinting coach Blaine Wiley is very high on Clark’s determination to be better every day.

“There’s no half speed with her,” Wiley said. “She goes, and everything she does, she goes. I’m trying to harness her energy because you’re more likely to hold her back than tell her to go harder. She trains hard every day.”

After her impressive outdoor season in 2018, Clark earned a spot on the United States U20 national team and competed at the 2017 IAAF U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. Only traveling to Cuba when she was 16, being out of the country was a new experience for her.

Clark accredits a lot of her success to her fellow sprinter and roommate Daija Lampkin. The two sophomores planned to come to Alabama together and have been very good friends since arriving in Tuscaloosa.

“I couldn’t have made it without her,” Clark said. “We’re like the same person but different at the same time. When I miss my family, I have her.”

Clark continued her run of impressive performances into this year’s indoor season, scoring three wins (two in the 60 meters and one in the 300 meters), earning a spot at the SEC indoor championships. Clark went on to win the SEC championship in the 200 meters with a time of 22.90.

“For her to go from not making the final to SEC champion as just a sophomore, I think is just fantastic,” Wiley said. “It’s a tribute to her hard work.”

The Alabama track and field program has been one of the rising programs in the SEC over the last few season. After making tweaks to how the men’s and women’s team practice together, the program has been elevated.

“It’s really changed a lot from my freshman year,” senior thrower Kord Ferguson said. “They’ve done a great job instilling into us about working together, and we’re now talking about championships in the locker room.”

While only a sophomore, Clark has played her role in helping elevate the program. However, she wants to continue to improve and says she can get even better with more time.

“This year it felt like we were family, and it’s better for us,” Clark said. “I’m just hoping to do my best and keeping improving every year.”