The inspiration for Maxamus Spaulding’s name came from Russell Crowe’s character in the movie “Gladiator.” This winter, Spaulding showed he can excel in his chosen arena, the track. The Winslow High School sophomore took wins in the 55 hurdles, 200 and 400 at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship, winning the Dave Martin Award as the top athlete of the meet. Spaulding followed that with a Class B state title in the 400, along with a fourth-place finish in the 200 and a third in the 55 hurdles at the state meet.

As Spaulding’s film namesake shouted, are you not entertained?

For his breakout season, Spaulding is the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Winslow track and field coach Ken Nadeau said he could put Spaulding in just about any event and expect success.

“We look at the competition. Where can he score the most and best and improve,” Nadeau said.

Spaulding thinks the 400 might be his best event. In the state meet at Bates College on February 17, that was certainly the case. After a clean start, Spaulding said he focused on getting and maintaining the lead.

“On the second turn of the first lap, I had a feeling it was going to be a good race,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding won with a time of 51.91 seconds, more than a second ahead of second-place Ben Cotton of John Bapst (53.55). Spaulding’s state-winning time also shaved more than a second from his 53.16 seconds to win the KVAC title a week earlier.

“I really wanted to break 52 (seconds), so I was happy,” Spaulding said.

“He’s got really long strides and good turnover,” Nadeau said, explaining how Spaulding excels in the 400. “His height and length for being so young’s an advantage.”

As a freshman last season, Spaulding was mentored by senior Ben Smith, who won state outdoor titles in the 100 and 200 while taking second place in the 400. In practice and in meets, Spaulding studied Smith’s routine.

“Watching (Smith) was a really good example,” Spaulding said.

There was no 400 at the New England championship, so Spaulding ran the 600.

“It was a very tough race. A lot tougher than I expected,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding followed a plan to run each of the first two laps at around a 27 second pace, then go for it on the third and final lap. His seed time was 1:26, and Spaulding finished in 1:25.45 in 19th place and the second-best finish by a Maine runner. Westbrook’s Mahamed Sharif placed 16th, 0.20 seconds ahead of Spaulding.

Last spring, Spaulding placed fourth in the 110 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles to help the Black Raiders win the Class B outdoor state meet. He’s not sure what events he’ll focus on this spring, but the ultimate goal is helping Winslow defend its state championship.

“The 800 has kind of crossed my mind,” Spaulding said.

Nadeau said Spaulding could have future potential in the decathlon.

“Really, the sky’s the limit,” Nadeau said. “I can put him pretty much anywhere and he’ll be OK.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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