Friday’s cancellation of Day 2 of the inaugural Maine Basketball Hall of Fame Classic denied area fans a chance to see one of the top Class C North matchups of the season as the scheduled game between the top-ranked Houlton boys and No. 4 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln was among the casualties.
And while Mattanawcook senior forward Cayden Spencer-Thompson was looking forward to the game, he probably didn’t mind the day off from competition as he juggles his basketball and indoor track schedules.
Spencer-Thompson, fresh from earning All-Little Ten Conference first-team recognition this fall as a wide receiver for the MA football team, has helped coach Lucas Turner’s basketball team get off to a 4-0 start this winter. He also is in record-setting form as a first-year member of the Lynx’s indoor track team.
“The physical demands of doing both sports shocked me more than I expected,” he said, “but I’ve gotten over the first-couple-of-weeks hump where it felt really hard and it’s now starting to ease out where I’m getting into the season.
“That was a big shock going from football shape into basketball and track shape. It’s getting better now.”
The track records should come as no surprise, given that Spencer-Thompson set state records while winning New England championships on both the long jump (24-1 3/4) and triple jump (48-3 3/4) last June. He also earned All-America honors indoors last winter while competing unattached in top regional and national meets in order to draw the interest of college track coaches.
Those efforts led him to accept a scholarship to attend the Division I University of Louisville beginning next fall where he will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
With college recruitment out of the way, the chance to rewrite the state’s indoor track and field record book proved attractive to Spencer-Thompson, leading him to double up in varsity sports this winter.
His indoor track debut with MA last weekend at the University of Maine field house produced not only new Penobscot Valley Conference-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League records in both the long jump and triple jump, but erased two longstanding marks in those events.
Spencer-Thompson had a best of 23-7 1/4 in the long jump to break the mark of 22-8 1/2 set in 1989 by Ellsworth’s Rob Pendergist, who went on to become an All-American decathlete at Mount St. Mary’s University and competed in the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The winning jump was Spencer-Thompson’s second best indoors, trailing only his 23-10 1/4 at last winter’s New Balance indoor nationals.
He followed that effort with a best of 47-4 1/4 in the triple jump to break the previous conference standard of 47-0 3/4 set by Brewer’s Peter Phelan in 1996.
“That’s the reason I wanted to do indoor track for MA,” he said. “I’d never gotten the chance to do it before and I love track so I’ve only got two more seasons of high school track and field and then it starts getting really serious, so I might as well have fun, break a few records and just hang out with some friends on the team while I’m at it.”
Spencer-Thompson — whose indoor best in the triple jump is the 48-10 1/4 with which he earned All-America status and a fourth-place finish at the 2018 New Balance nationals — said he no longer spends time lamenting the marks he’s chasing.
“What I like to do is hear about the record after I break it because when I was younger I would sit down and just stare at the numbers I needed to beat and they’d get in my head and mess with me,” he said. “Now I like to wait until the day of the meet and right after I do it.”
Spencer-Thompson routinely attends two high school practices a day, basketball and then indoor track. He finds that the workouts complement each other.
“I’m actually kind of lucky,” he said. “In basketball practice my coach encourages me to jump up and try to block balls, and everyone else he wants to slide over and try to take a charge. He encourages me to get up for a rebound as high as I can and catch the ball at its highest point.
“With a lot of that comes some of my strength training and getting my jumping in, and when I’m sprinting up and down the court I’m getting in some of my sprint work,” he said.
Spencer-Thompson hopes that combination of training not only will lead to a deep tournament run in basketball for Mattanawcook Academy this winter, but also some bigger jumps as the indoor track championship season approaches.
The early signs for both endeavors foster optimism.
“Last year my PRs were 24 feet and 48-3 outdoors, so to come indoors and only be inches behind already feels really good,” he said. “Last year I improved by a foot and a half over the season and this year I’m already just inches behind my PRs so if I follow that same growth I should be jumping really far by the end of the season.
“And in basketball we’re 4-0 and getting better every game.”