Manhattan's Hankins continues javelin dominance as junior

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Manhattan High School junior Sam Hankins began competing in track and field when he was 6-years old.

"I always did shot put, I always did discus and I needed a third event so I didn't have to run the 400," Hankins chuckled, "so I decided to start throwing javelin because I didn't want to run.

He then won his first national championship in javelin when he was 11-years old.

"I was at the AAU Nationals in Detroit and I threw 140 feet, 10 inches and won nationals by about 20 feet," Hankins said. "It's still a national record today."

Fast forward to the present and Hankins has world championships under his belt as well as two-straight state 6A titles in the event.

But his first national record isn't his only.

Hankins holds the national record for the longest throw in 2019 for high school boys-- a 210 foot hurl he recorded at the Lansing Invitational this April.

In fact, Hankins' four next best throws nationwide this year are still further than his closest competitor's top mark.

This year, only three other throwers in the nation have documented throws over 200 feet. The only other in Kansas is Trey Patterson of Cheney, who notched a 205-foot mark at the Kansas Relays.

Hankins said he and Patterson have known each other for a while.

"It's really about the tape measure at this point," Hankins said. "There's not a whole lot of competition in our region for people who are throwing about 200 feet.

"I want to get longer throws, I want to beat my personal best and I want to excel in the event."

Hankins' personal best is 231 feet, 7 inches which he set in the boys under-18 javelin event at the JenJavelin meet in Germany last summer.

That throw was 20 feet more than his competition.

"Sam has a unique crossroads of unbelievable talent and a nearly unmatched work ethic," said Ryan Small, Hankins' javelin coach at MHS. "He comes in every day motivated. That's a quality that not a lot of kids have these days and it's a reason why he's a junior captain on our track team."

In his three years representing Manhattan, Hankins has never lost in javelin.

This year, he's won javelin in each of the Indians' five meets, notching throws over 200 each time.

And in 6A state, he hopes to three-peat then four-peat as champion, the last of which has never been done before in high school boys' javelin in the state of Kansas, at least since 2002. (The documented results stop at 2002.)

"I think the passion for the sport (motivates me the most)," Hankins said. "I love doing it. I have fun doing it and when it's fun, it's easy to do and to get better at."

Hankins said his next focus is on throwing in college, and he's already received quite a bit of interest from schools.

"He's got a lot of hard work to do, especially at the next level," Small said. "Everyone at that level is going to be pretty good.

"But I have no doubt with the work ethic he's shown me in the short time that I've got to be around him that he'll have no problem."