One Sunday morning this spring, Winslow High School track and field coach Ken Nadeau stopped by the team’s storage barn to get a few things. As Nadeau approached the track, he noticed a few people working out. As he got closer, Nadeau realized it was senior sprinter Ben Smith, working on his starts. Smith had convinced a few teammates to join him for the Sunday morning training session.

“That shows you his character,” Nadeau said of Smith. “He has motivation for himself. He’s, ‘Hey boys, I’m going to the track. Who’s coming?'”

The 2017 season was Smith’s first and only as a member of the Black Raiders outdoor track and field team, but he made it historic. Smith won a pair of individual titles at the Class B state championship meet, in the 100 and 200, a second place in the 400, and was the anchor of Winslow’s second place 4×400 relay team. Smith’s individual accomplishments helped the Winslow boys win their first outdoor track and field state championship since 1966.

Smith was the only Maine athlete to compete in three individual events at the New England championships this year. For his accomplishments, Ben Smith is the Morning Sentinel Boys Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Also considered were Zach Smith of Waterville and Tanner Burton of Messalonskee.

“Coming into the year, I wanted to win individual titles, but I didn’t think we’d win team,” Smith said.

The Black Raiders knew the state meet would be close between them and Mt. Desert Island. As the meet progressed and Winslow maintained a slim lead, Smith knew it could come to the final event, the 4×400.

“I know going into the 4×400 we had a shot if we didn’t completely blow it,” Smith said.”When I got the baton, there was two guys probably 15 meters ahead of me. I just went for it.”

Winslow finished the relay in second place, behind MDI, but the two points the Trojans gained on the Black Raiders were not enough to close the gap between the teams, giving Winslow the championship.

Also a soccer standout, Smith ran indoor track for Winslow for a few years. This spring, he made the difficult choice to give up baseball, where he started in the Black Raiders outfield for three years, to pursue outdoor sprinting.

“His passion for (track and field) really came out his junior year,” Nadeau said. “He always wanted to do both (baseball and track). He’s probably one of the more well-rounded athletes Winslow’s had in a while.”

Smith always had the speed to excel on the track, and he picked up the technique quickly. Smith’s winning times in the 100 (11.31 seconds) and 200 (22.60) were formed in tough practices alongside teammate Jake Warn, who placed second in each event at the state meet.

“They both made each other faster,” Nadeau said. “We had six kids on the team running under 12 (seconds) in the 100. That gave him competition every day.”

Both Smith and Nadeau think Smith’s best event is the 200. Smith isn’t sure yet what events he’ll run when he continues his career at Colby College next year, but he expects the 200 to be one of the them.

“It’s a good combination of acceleration and maximum velocity. The 100 is a little too quick for me,” Smith said.

Smith is an athlete who is constantly thinking ahead, Nadeau said. When Nadeau was considering making a few changes to Winslow’s relay teams for the state meet, he mentioned it to Smith. The senior was already thinking along the same lines.

“You, as a coach, have to be one step ahead of him,” Nadeau said. “Ben’s kind of an introvert. He won’t say a whole bunch. He just gets himself prepared.”

Competing at the New England meet was a good experience, Smith said,

“There’s some really fast guys. It was a good experience to see the kind of guys I see at the next level,” Smith said.

Nadeau predicts Smith will excel under Colby head coach Dave Cusano.

“(Cusano) is getting a kid that can work,” Nadeau said. “When he gets a kid that can run, they get faster.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM