LAMAR, Mo. —
The pride is evident as soon as you arrive in Lamar.
Business windows are decorated to declare its support for Lamar High School, and people are wearing Lamar Tigers T-shirts. Tiger paw prints decorate the street, leading up to the high school.
Of course, the town has plenty of reasons to be proud.
Up until two years ago, the Tigers hadn’t won a team state championship in school history. Now, Lamar boasts four state titles after winning in football the past two seasons and capturing crowns in boys cross country and boys track and field this school year. The Tigers also have two runner-up finishes in that time frame.
“The town has rallied around the school,” said Lamar assistant superintendent Zach Harris, who will take over as superintendent on July 1. “The community takes a lot of pride in athletics and academics, as well.”
Through the years
Harris recalls a time in the not too distant past when Lamar didn’t always win.
A 1996 graduate, Harris was part of a Lamar football team that went 8-3, but he also was on a Tigers squad that finished 0-10.
Tim Timmons, a 1969 Lamar graduate and current softball coach, said a five-win football season his senior year was the best during his tenure.
There were stints of success with larger gaps in between.
Several individual state titles had been won in track and field over the years.
The girls track team finished third at state in 1987. The boys golf team was third the following year. Lamar’s volleyball squad won six consecutive district championships 1989-1994 and were among the final four Class 2 teams in 1992 and 1994. The Tigers football team reached the quarterfinals in 1988. Lamar’s boys basketball team made the state playoffs in 1933, 1940, 1972, 1974 and 1991. The girls basketball team advanced in 1989, 1994 and 1999.
But no Lamar team had ever won a state championship, and no team had ever reached a state finals.
“To be honest, growing up I never thought about winning a state championship,” said Sam Bailey, who played a key role in Lamar’s two football state titles and the track and field title this spring. “As a kid, I just loved playing. It wasn’t until the eighth grade that I started realizing that we would have a chance to do something at Lamar that no one else had done.”