Troy Gurski always had the talent to be a state champion, said Ian Wilson, Gurski’s track and field coach at Waterville Senior High School. This year, Gurski gained the confidence to make it happen.

“Troy would get really anxious and nervous at big meets and tighten up,” Wilson said. “This year, he learned the importance of relaxing.”

At the Class B state championship meet at Bates College in February, Gurski was nervous, but finally, he didn’t let the nerves affect his effort. Gurski won the state title in the 55 hurdles he’d been working for, then followed it with a state championship in the triple jump.

“At states I was just so relaxed. It was nice,” Gurski, a senior, said. “After the hurdles I was like, ‘This is what I wanted. No go have a good day.’”

For his two state titles and role in helping Waterville earn its first indoor track and field team championship, Troy Gurski is the Morning Sentinel Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Gurski’s winning time in the 55 hurdles was 8.09 seconds. Later in the day, Gurski won the triple jump with a leap of 43 feet, 10.5 inches.

“That was three feet better than last year’s jump, which is enormous improvement,” Wilson said.

Gurski came into track and field trying to emulate his older brother, J.D. Gurski, a former Waterville standout. Gurski’s favorite event is the hurdles.

“I feel way more solid in (hurdles),” Gurski said. “It feels natural.”

Despite feeling more relaxed than ever at the state meet, Gurski got out to a shaky start in the finals heat.

“I stumbled out of the blocks and didn’t think I’d win it,” he said.

One of the keys to Gurski’s training regimen is having a talented teammate as a workout partner. Jordhan Levine, also a Waterville senior, finished second behind Gurski in the 55 hurdles and triple jump at the state meet. Their one-two finishes in those two events accounted for 36 of the 60 points the Purple Panthers scored to win the meet.

“It’s surprising how much they pull for each other,” Wilson said of Gurski and Levine. “It’s remarkable what great friends they are.”

Added Gurski: “We’re pretty good buddies. We push each other. If you train with the best, you’ll be the best.”

When the spring track and field season starts, Gurski will once again hurdle, but he’s considering other events, too. Wilson said he may split Gurski and Levine into different events, which could help the team spread points around come the conference and state meets at the end of the season.

“I’m thinking about throwing some javelin,” Gurski said.

There’s no doubt the nerves will still be under control.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242 tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM