Q & A with Manhattan Super Sophomore Sam Hankins

Name - Sam Hankins

Age - 16 years

Personal Bests - Javelin 211' 10"

Academic Interests - Pre Med

Hobbies - Fishing/Hunting, Coin Collecting

Favorite Quote - "Speak softly, and carry a big stick" Theodore Roosevelt

How did you get involved in the sport? - I became interested in Javelin when I was 10 years old and competing with Manhattan Track Club. Our coach was Jeremy Lehning who was a javelin thrower for Kansas State.  Jeremy had me throwing Turbo Javelin, Shot Put and Discus.

Tell us about your trip to Louisiana last week - I traveled to Baton Rouge Louisiana to attend a 4 day javelin camp sponsored by NSAF. I am a member of the NSAF Project Javelin Gold development team and was able to spend the time with an amazing group of teammates, top javelin throwers in the country, and coaches who push me to improve past my limits every time I throw.

Please walk us through any pre meet rituals - I don't really have a specific ritual, I just work on keeping a calm composure and thinking through the effort, time and dedication I have put into the sport to motivate me.

What is your favorite track event and why? - Of course Javelin is my favorite event because it is what I enjoy the most and because it is me against the tape measure which makes it a very quick measure of how I am doing.

What is your goal for your upcoming meet and where is it at? - My next meet is the Washburn Relays in Topeka Kansas, and my goal is to improve on my PR while being able to handle the weather conditions.

How do you look at being ranked as the top Javelin thrower in Kansas and the Nation? - It is an amazing feeling and honor when you look at the rankings and see your name at the top of the list, but realizing that it didn't get there without expert coaching from the great group of coaches I have, lots of practice and effort, plus support from my family and teammates.  I know that to keep leading the State and Nation, I must continue to work hard and continue to improve my throwing technique by listening to my coaches, giving maximum effort, and breaking down videos from the top javelin throwers in the world.

From your success in 2017, what do you hope to do this season coming up? - My goal for this season is to break the Sophomore High School National Record (221' 2"), continue to improve my throwing technique, and just to enjoy the sport.

Do you have a specific motivation? - I am motivated by trying to beat my PR everyone time I compete. I love to see that my work and effort is paying off.

What has been your biggest challenge in the sport? - My biggest challenge is not to overwork at throwing the javelin. It is very easy to want to throw maximum distance at every practice, but you have to learn to not over work so that injuries do not become a problem.

What do you hope to achieve in the future?  In the near future I hope to repeat as the 6A State Champion and bring back a youth championship from Europe where I will be competing and training this summer. In the distant future I hope to represent the United States of America in the Olympic Games.

Walk us through a competition for you -  Throwing the javelin in competition for me is like an art that takes a lot of time. Pre throw I focus on getting the nervousness out by focusing on my warm up routine and evaluating the weather conditions and track surface. When it is time to throw I focus on beating the tape measure, not the other throwers. I will leave it all on the track when I throw on every throw. If the throws are really coming together, it is an amazing rush just to watch the javelin fly. After the competition the first thing I want to do is congratulate all the athletes, and then I spend time evaluating my throws with my coach to see where I can improve next time.

What goes through your mind? - Honestly, not much goes through my mind except concentrating on my run up approach, throwing technique and thinking to myself to throw far.

Do you play other sports? - Yes, I play QB on my High School Football team. 

How does track help you with other sports and vice versa? -  Track helps with my footwork, speed, arm strength and concentration for football. Football helps with strength, agility and composure in competition.

How and when did you start training for track and field this season? I actually train for javelin all year long, even when I am competing in other sports. I was fortunate enough to be selected by the NSAF to join the Project Javelin Gold Team which allows me to attend training sessions and competition throughout the year.

What do you enjoy most about the Manhattan High Track Team? -  I really enjoy the fact that each coach and each athlete are there for one another to improve as a team overall. Even though I participate in an individual event, it is the "Team Feeling" I enjoy the most.

What team goals does Manhattan High Track have? - As a team, we want to bring home the 6A Team Championship trophy from Wichita this year.

What do you feel you have learned from your coaches, teammates and the sport? - I have learned so much from my coaches and teammates it is hard to put into words. Most of all I have learned how to be a good competitor and teammate, how to focus on technique first, and how to be a strong competitor while still displaying the highest degree of sportsmanship. Track has allowed me to make a great group of friends locally and nationally even though we may be competitors on the track.

What would you like to see happen in the future in the sport? - I would like to see more young kids getting involved in track and field, because I think it has so much to offer them both as a sport and as something that will help them develop into a better person in the future. I would specifically like to see more participation in Javelin in all the US and make it available to kids at a younger age so that we may be more competitive in Javelin on the world stage.

If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?  - The thing I would like to do most is be able to compete in the Olympic Games.  I think it would be an amazing feeling and experience to compete against the best athletes in the World, while being able to represent the United States of America and be able to show what we have to offer.