Crispin Kamundala practices at the long jump at Lewiston High School on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

At the 2019 Class A outdoor state meet, Crispin Kamundala took first place in the triple jump with a jump of 44 feet, 5 inches.

That was only his third season of track and field — of his life, not just high school — and the ceiling was high for the then-senior at Lewiston High School. 

After two years away from the sport, Kamundala is preparing for his first season with the University of Maine’s track team. His journey to the Black Bears has been unique.

By the summer before his senior year, Kamuldala’s jumping prowess had caught the UMaine coaches’ attention, and men’s track and field recruiting coordinator Chris Flynn emailed Lewiston and Kamundala in hopes of starting the process of getting him to Orono.

“We were recruiting him out of high school,” University of Maine track and field coach Mark Lech said. “Carolyn Court, who coaches at Lewiston and coached at Bates for a long time, she had communicated to me about him, and we were emailing back and forth about him coming, and then he decided to do a year between high school and coming to Maine.”

Kamundala took a year off after his impressive senior season to evaluate his own time management skills and if school was right for him. Kamundala did a year at Central Maine Community College before transferring to UMaine for the 2020-21 year.

At UMaine, Kamundala said he was a resident advisor and was also named the Vice President of the Pre-Law Society. He’s also in the interview process to become the Vice President of Financial Advisors at UMaine. All of the anxiety Kamundala had about school quickly went away.

“I wanted to see how it was and take it easy and see how my time management was,” Kamundala said. “After a year (at CMCC) and then a year at UMaine, I feel like I can do it.”

Lech and UMaine tried to get Kamundala onto the track team last year but encountered road blocks that derailed their plans.

Crispin Kamundala practices at the long jump at Lewiston High School on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

Kamundala said he didn’t get his paperwork in on time and, Lech added, walk-ons weren’t allowed during the coronavirus pandemic-ridden season.

“I kind of lost track of where he was and what he was doing, but then last year, last fall, he contacted us again, asking if he could join the team,” Lech said. “I spent all last year trying to get him on the team, but they weren’t allowing any walk-ons because of the pandemic and everything else. They got spooked by that kind of stuff.”

While Kamundala has been away from track and field for a couple of years, he has continued training in his other sport: boxing.

“I’ve been focusing on boxing, especially,” Kamundala said. “It’s helped me a lot to be in shape — like, really, really in shape. I have coaches that tell me, ‘You are really in shape,’ with my heart rate and stuff. Boxing is the only thing that gets me in shape.”

Kamundala trains with Cugno Boxing in Lewiston, and has done so throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, even though all potential fights having been canceled over the past 16 months.

Crispin Kamundala practices at the long jump at Lewiston High School on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

Boxing and jumping isn’t a combination that Lech has ever coached, but Kamundala said that the two go hand-in-hand. 

“That’s the thing, in boxing you have to be quick on the hands and feet, and then in running you need power, so boxing has exercises that are very tough and have kept me in shape,” Kamundala said. “I am just trying to be ready when the track season starts because I am really trying to impress the coaches.”

Lech is excited to see where Kamundala is fitness-wise, and hopes boxing will have helped him. 

“It seems like he stayed fairly fit because it looks like he kept up with his boxing fitness and he’s still lifting and staying basically fit for everything, and strong,” Lech said. “Just getting him started on the technique will be the thing.”

Outside of his boxing training, Kamundala routinely runs a 4-mile route in his neighborhood in Lewiston, starting at Bates College and traveling around the city. He also brings his brothers, who are in middle school, to Lewiston High School’s track to practice jumping.

Kamundala said he’s also lost weight since high school, and that he’s excited about his current fitness levels. Lech said Kamundala will need to work on his technique, but he is ready to bring him right onto the team, which will start getting together Aug. 30.

Crispin Kamundala practices at the long jump at Lewiston High School on Saturday. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

“We are waiting for him to come in this year, and he’s already contacted us and we are putting him on right away,” Lech said. “He was a pretty raw talent and hadn’t had any formal training before he got to Lewiston. The triple jump, it seems like a simple event, but it’s fairly technical because a lot of kids will have a really big first phase of it and then the second phase will be short in anticipation of the third phase. It’s only when you learn how to do that second phase and be patient about it is when you start to jump farther. I think that will be one of the first things he will need to learn when he comes in.

“He’s a good athlete and we saw him compete (in indoor track) in his senior year. Athletically, he’s good; technically, he just needs to catch up to get better. He’s an interesting character and he’s kept after it, which is good.”

Kamundala looking forward to getting started at UMaine, and free of anxiety. 

“I’m actually excited,” Kamundala said. “I feel like I have it right now. It’s crazy. I feel very good. Being scared and anxiety, boxing has helped me with that. You know how you get in the ring and you get scared? That’s what is helping me right now. Whatever happens, happens, and I’m not going to be scared. You are doing what you like to do, so it’s about having fun.”

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