DURHAM, N.H. – “Clap, Clap, Clap,” is heard throughout the track. Spencer Shaw (Hampton, N.H.) is about to long jump. As he sprints down the track into the pit, the slow clap becomes faster as he leaps into the air. While at the Valentine’s Invite on Feb. 14 at Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center, Shaw broke the University of New Hampshire’s 67-year-old record with a jump of 23 feet, 10¼ inches. The senior captain shattered “Boo” Morcom’s 1942 indoor record of 23-7, after years of struggle.
“[The long jump record] was the oldest record on the indoor board – 67 years of attempts. It attests to the abilities of Boo,” said UNH Men’s Track and Field Head Coach Jim Boulanger.
Albert Richard “Boo” Morcom entered UNH in 1940, served in World War II for three years and came back to UNH to finish his Biology degree in 1947. The legendary athlete was notorious for high jumping with one shoe on and one shoe off and thus became known as “The Barefoot Boy.” Morcom is the 1982 100 Club Hall of Fame Recipient for his outstanding athletic talents.
Morcom was coached under the legendary Paul Sweet. Though his concentration was in pole vault, Morcom also participated in high Jump and long Jump. Also known as “Boo”, his accolades are never ending. In the ICAAAA Championships alone, Morcom is a five-time pole vault Champion, three-time high jump champion, as well as a long lump champion. Morcom is a five-time national pole vault champion and also captured three pole vault titles at the Penn Relays. At New Englands, Morcom is a ten-time pole vault champion, a six-time high jump champion, and three-time long jump champion. During the 1942 indoor season, Morcom set the indoor long jump record of 23-7 and also turned in records in the pole vault and high jump.
In 1948, Morcom went on to win the U.S. Olympic Trials and placed sixth in pole vault in the London Olympic Games. He also coached the U.S. women's pole vault team in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Even into his 70’s, the exceptional athlete participated in the masters competitions. He won Masters Track and Field Athlete of the Year for his age group in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1992.
“I’ve never had so much adrenaline,” said Shaw on last week’s performance. According to teammate and classmate Jeff Kaste (Atkinson, N.H.), it’s “sweet that Spence broke the record. It’s weird to think that no one has done it in nearly 70 years.”
In High School, Shaw was the indoor state champ in 2004, placed third at the New England indoor meet in 2005, and qualified for the national meet for both indoor and outdoor track. Shaw’s natural talents have been through multiple pulled hamstrings, wiping out his senior year of high school and his sophomore year of college. Currently, Shaw has “small aches and pains – nothing Advil can’t handle.”
“For the last two years [Spencer] has been trying for this record, but injury was an issue,” said Coach Boulanger of Shaw. “His next assault is Calvin Fowler’s [record] on the outdoor board.”
While at UNH, Shaw has produced three top-three finishes at the America East Championships. Coach Boulanger is looking for “good health and good weather” in order for Shaw to break the 51-year-old record in the spring. Feeling his “healthiest ever,” the senior hopes to jump 25 feet in the spring. Something he never thought imaginable until last weekend.
This weekend at the America East Indoor Championships held at the Track and Tennis Center, Shaw looks to jump 24-6. This mark would qualify him for the national championships, as well as earn him the new America East long jump record.
“We are looking for top performances this weekend. If we win, we win,” Shaw said. “We will need points wherever we can get them. It has been a great year as far as our team goes. We are breaking records right and left. [Coach] B[oulanger] always talked about this happening. I think we have 12 or 13 IC4A qualifiers already. Winning America East is definitely not out of the question.”
Aside from long jump, Shaw will also be high jumping this weekend. “I jumped 6-2 last weekend,” he said. “I’m hoping to jump 6-4 this weekend for a couple of points.”
After graduation, Shaw is continuing his education in pedagogy at UNH’s graduate school. He hopes to coach sprints and jumps for a local high school team.
Shaw and the rest of the Wildcat Squad return to action Friday, Feb. 20 at Boston University for the America East Indoor Championship. Events begin at 3 p.m. and conclude Saturday evening.