DEL CITY — In a sport where state championship contenders typically have several years of experience, Del City senior Clayton Lamb is vying for a title in just his third year of wrestling.
His high aspirations have a lot to do with the school's tradition of producing champions.
Becoming a state champion has become an obsession for Lamb, who is 26-7 at 132 pounds entering the Class 5A west regional tournament at Del City on Friday and Saturday.
“My goal is to go win (state) and join that list,” Lamb said. “When I first started, I didn't see myself having these high goals. I was pretty far off. Now, when I'm running and training, I tell myself that this is all about getting that state championship. I know I have to outwork everyone else and I can make it happen.”
Over the next two weeks, Lamb will be looking to improve on his fourth-place finish at state last year and join that historic list of Del City state champions, which includes the Smith brothers. He's already joined another set of accomplished Del City brothers, the James', as a state placer.
Pat, John, Lee Roy, and Mark Smith each won at least two state titles before becoming All-Americans at OSU. Lamb's coach, Ronnie James, and older brother David also were state placers at the school before winning multiple national championships at UCO where David is now the coach.
“I think (Lamb) exemplifies what it means to be a Del City wrestler,” Ronnie said. “Our tradition goes back (60 years) and as far as I'm concerned he's your typical Del City wrestler. Right there in the category with the Smiths and the James and the other great people that have come through here. He exemplifies the same things those guys did.”
Lamb has already left somewhat of mark on the program. With him leading the way, Del City won District 5A-4 and advanced to dual state for the first time since 2009, where it fell to eventual champion Collinsville in the semifinals.
“He leads more by example than he does by mouth,” Ronnie said. “He trains really hard. He reminds me a lot of me and my brother in that he's maybe not the most skilled wrestler, but he outworks people with his training so he can beat them in the third period. He's been a lot of fun to coach.”