On June 22, The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram will honor the state’s best high school athletes at our annual banquet. A player of the year for each sport will be honored and we’ll name our male and female Athletes of the Year. What makes this year so special is that it’s the 25th year of honoring Maine’s best, so we will be catching up with all our Athletes of the Year since the first banquet in 1988.
Today, we honor the winners from 1989:
Stephanie Carter Thompson, Schenck High
IN HIGH SCHOOL: Stephanie Carter was a dominating basketball player for three years, leading her East Millinocket school to three straight Class C state titles. She was a 5-foot-11 center who played with grace and determination, scoring 2,167 points in her career. Maine had other notable female players in 1989, including Heather Briggs at Biddeford, Sharon Bay at Portland and Marcy Lane at Cony, but Carter went home with the state’s top postseason awards and plaudits in 1989.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: Carter left Schenck for the University of Maine to play for Coach Trish Roberts, and with new teammates Carrie Goodhue from Messalonskee and Julie Bradstreet from Central Aroostook. After two seasons and somewhat limited playing time, Carter transferred to St. Joseph’s College for its nursing program and to play for Coach Mike McDevitt. She thrived in that environment. Carter got her degree in nursing and was last known to be a registered nurse. She returned to her hometown, where her husband, Darrick Thompson, has been the girls’ basketball coach at Schenck.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: Stephanie Thompson did not respond to requests for comments.
Rob Pendergist, Ellsworth High
IN HIGH SCHOOL: Pendergist became one of the country’s top schoolboy decathletes literally and figuratively by accident. A star sprinter, jumper and hurdler, he stepped into a pothole during a workout, severely injuring his ankle. “I couldn’t jump and I couldn’t run,” said Pendergist, who still holds state records in the high jump (6-foot-7) and long jump (22-7.5). “My coach asked, ‘do you think you can get any points in the discus, shot put and javelin?’ I knew nothing about throwing.” He learned quickly. His javelin throw of 210 feet, 9 inches in 1989 is still a Maine high school record with an asterisk: The javelin’s weight was later redistributed. Pendergist’s newfound versatility was his springboard to the two-day decathlon of 10 events in sprints, distance running, jumps, hurdles and throwing. In his second decathlon in the summer of 1988, he set a 17-18 age group record in the Junior Olympics.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: Pendergist experienced national success competing at Mount St. Mary’s College. He was second in the NCAA Division I decathlon in 1994 in his last year of eligibility. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials as a junior but missed becoming an Olympian. He has been inducted into the Mount St. Mary sports Hall of Fame. He’s coached at Rider College, became an avid golfer and still competes at age 42 in triathlons, teaching himself how to swim. “I still have a 32-inch waist and I’m very dedicated to how I live my life.” He is a successful financial planner, a husband and father to three children, living in New Jersey near the shore.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: “I was happy. I thought I worked harder. I never missed a Sunday workout, which included 14 200’s (sprints) with no recovery. It was something I knew I had to do.”