It was a straight forward approach for Waterville native Nick Danner heading into last weekend’s Atlantic 10 men’s outdoor track and field championships.
“Try to get a far throw,” the University of Rhode Island freshman said, “and win.”
Consider that mission accomplished on both fronts.
The former Waterville standout won the javelin with a throw of 67.52 meters (approximately 221 feet, 6 1/4 inches) at the UMass Track and Field Complex Saturday as the Rams went on to win the A-10 title the following day with 191.5 points. George Mason University (169) and Duquesne University (102) rounded out the top three.
Danner’s throw was a new personal best for the season that also gave him the title by a sizable margin over Duquesne junior Alex Gladysiewski (61.73m).
“He’s doing really well. I didn’t realize he’d make that jump and do that well for himself,” Danner’s high school coach Ian Wilson said. “We’re thrilled for that anytime you can see a kid go off and do that well. We love seeing kids grow and get better. You don’t want to think a kid’s best days were in high school.”
After the year Danner has had, it seems pretty clear that his best days in Keaney Blue still lie ahead.
In his final meet with the Purple Panthers — the Class B Championships — Danner set the Maine record with a throw of 192-9, and has only continued to progress since arriving in Kingston, Rhode Island.
He opened the outdoor season by winning the javelin at the UConn Invitational on March 29, and was named the A-10 Rookie of the Week for the first time two days later.
“I wanted to just kind of get over 200 and that’s what I thought would be a good goal at first, but then the practice and the training was there and the first meet I threw 197,” Danner said. “I thought that was a good baseline to start it. The next week it just exploded from there.”
The following week Danner won again at the American International College Invitational — this time with a huge PR of 66.73m (approximately 218-11) — and was again named the conference’s rookie of the week.
“That was nice,” Danner said. “I didn’t really expect to get any recognition just because it’s the throws and everything but it was a nice change I would say.”
From there the URI freshman placed second at the UConn Classic (65.30m) on April 19 and fourth at the Penn Relays (65.58m) on April 26.
Danner credits not only the coaching staff, but his fellow throwers at URI in helping him get to this next level in his athletic career.
“We all push each other really far, which is something that was really new to me I guess,” he said. “It was nice to have a harder training program.
“…(The coaches) had me more focus on (javelin) all year than to just focus on shot and (discus) like I did in high school. It was nice to just focus on one event for a change and get better at that.”
While the new lessons have certainly been helpful, Danner is also applying some old ones he learned in high school as well.
“Keep up with the upperclassmen, that’s what I learned in high school,” he said. “That’s what I want to do here.”
Danner will look to keep his strong spring going this weekend as the Rams travel to Westfield, Massachusetts for the New England Championships.
Evan Crawley——621-5640 | email@example.com | Twitter: @Evan_Crawley