In the spring of his eighth-grade year at Waterville Junior High, Nick Danner joined some track and field teammates for a javelin practice on an open field.

Danner recalled how he heaved the javelin and nearly struck a stranger who was walking across the field.

“I had no idea who he was so I yelled out, ‘Hey, sorry, man,’ ” Danner said. “Turns out it was (Waterville varsity) Coach Ian Wilson. We had never been introduced.”

Wilson was impressed.

“The javelin went whizzing right by my ear some 150 feet away from me,” Wilson said. “He had this smirk on his face. We knew then he was really good. We knew he had the chance to be pretty special.”

Four years later, Danner graduated as one of the top throwers in the state. He set the Class B state record in the javelin with a throw of 192 feet, 10 inches. He also won the shot put and helped the Purple Panthers win the Class B state championship.

For his accomplishments this spring, Danner is the Morning Sentinel Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Waterville teammate Jordhan Levine was also considered.

It’s been an interesting journey for Danner.

When Danner first came to Wilson and the Waterville track team, he threw the javelin but also competed in the sprints and hurdles.

It wasn’t until his sophomore and junior years, when Danner bulked up for his role on the football team, that it was decided to become primarily a thrower.

“I started out doing mostly hurdles but I was lifting to get ready for football,” he said. “Coach told me, I think at the beginning of my junior year, that I was too big for the hurdles. I decided that I should do more than just throw the javelin. I started throwing the shot and in my junior year I decided to the discus. I wanted to do well in all three events. I just wanted to be well-rounded.”

He won the javelin at the Class B state meet in his junior year with a throw of 177-7. He was seventh in discus.

“Then everything started to improve dramatically,” Wilson said. “He was always a good javelin thrower but he never remained satisfied. He wanted to be someone who was significant in track and field.”

He certainly was this season.

Danner swept the throwing events at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meet at McMann Field. He then crushed the Class B state record in the javelin at the state meet a week later — eclipsing the old mark of 179-1 by more than 13 feet.

He won the shot put with a throw of 47-4.5. He would’ve won the discus but he misfired on a few throws after nearly missing the event because of the 4×100 relay.

“I really wanted the state record in the javelin,” Danner said. “I wanted to win all three at states but some things didn’t go my way. But overall I was pretty pleased with how things went.”

Danner will attend the University of Rhode Island, where he will compete on the track and field team.

“I wanted to try and do football but I don’t think I’ll have time,” he said. “I think I’m going to focus on track from now on.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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