Jake Thompson, a 2022 graduate of Portland High School, will continue running collegiately at Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU).
Thompson, who ran cross-country in the fall and outdoor track in the spring, visited the school’s campus in Willimantic and was sold after meeting the coaching staff and his future teammates.
“They were super supportive and I got to see practice for the first time,” recalled Thompson. “I saw the kids were really determined and it caught my eye. It felt like home.”
At Eastern, Thompson will study business as he competes with his Warrior running mates.
He took business classes at PHS, along with being part of the school’s DECA program, which is a group of students that encourages the development of business and leadership skills through academic conferences and competitions.
Over the past four year, he has been all business on the athletic fields and courts as well. Along with being a two-season runner, he also was a starter on the Highlanders basketball team that won a home tournament game for the first time in several years and then upset top-seed Coventry in the second round of the Division V tourney.
The rangy Thompson averaged 9.3 points per game and led the team in three-pointers made, as well as shooting a blistering 89% from the free-throw line.
The team accolades in the winter set the stage for his biggest accomplishment in the spring when teamed with Simon Kandeke, Teddy Williams, and Owen Delisle to break the school record in the 4x400 relay, running a 3:30.30 at the Shoreline Conference (SLC) Championships. The foursome won the event at the conference championships, helping the Highlander boys finish 3rd overall. Thompson was also a consistent trail runner for the boys’ cross-country team that placed 3rd overall at the SLC championships in the fall.
Thompson said breaking the school record in the 4x4 was a goal the relay team had eyed for the entire season and those moments are what made his high school experience special, adding, “I like that we are small school. Some people might not like it because there isn’t a lot of kids, but I like that everybody knows each other. That is what I will miss the most.”
Thompson is one four recent PHS-graduates – along with Delisle, Kayla LaMalfa, and Lindsey King – that will be joining an elite ECSU cross country/track and field program in Willimantic.
“We’ve grown up all of our lives and now we’re going for another four. It’s great, I love it,” said Thompson, who was born and raised in Portland.
Thompson will now run a revamped Warriors team led by head coach David Nicholson, who makes his return to the school to take over both the cross country and track & field programs. Davidson, a 2006 graduate of ESCU, was an All-American runner at the school and is a member of the ECSU athletic hall of fame.
The challenge of collegiate running is something that the versatile Thompson embraces.
“Knowing that I have four more years to prove myself is what excites me,” added Thompson, who also competed in the high jump as a senior. “I just want to keep getting better and have fun.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin