Oxford Hills junior Dawson Stevens is one of the top javelin throwers in the state.
Dawson Stevens stays busy doing stuff well.
He runs footballs with speed and power, and kicks them with accuracy. He wrestles with skill and tenacity.
He even throws a mean dodgeball. And seeing that during wrestling practice inspired Oxford Hills track and field coach Nate Danforth to have Stevens put his arm to use during the spring.
“I help coach wrestling, and sometimes the coach has them play this game where they have dodgeball,” Danforth said. “And me being the throwing coach, I saw how hard Dawson could throw the dodgeballs.
“I’ve been trying to get him to come out for track because he’s always been fast. So when I got him to come out and do track, I definitely made sure he was going to be throwing the javelin. I tried him out, and just like I thought, he has a cannon for an arm.”
Stevens, a junior, is one of the best high school wrestlers in Maine. He placed second in the 160-pound division at the Class A state championships and fourth at the New England championships earlier this year.
During the fall, he was an All-KVAC first-team running back, running the ball 86 times for 792 yards (which ranked second in the conference) and seven touchdowns in the regular season. He scored another touchdown on a kickoff return. He also was the Vikings’ kicker, and made 13 of 13 extra points.
“Dawson, he’s very athletic,” John Bowen, Stevens’ football and track teammate said. “Wrestling, football, track — I mean, he does it all. He’s real athletic.”
Track and field wasn’t part of Stevens’ dossier until Danforth, who is also an assistant football coach, finally convinced him to join the team for his sophomore season.
“Coach Danforth was on me freshman year, and I told him I didn’t want to do it, I wasn’t interested,” Stevens said. “And then finally sophomore year, I was like, ‘You know what, I might as well give it a shot. What’s it going to hurt?’
“He said, ‘You come for a week, and you don’t like it, you don’t have to come.’ And I went for a week, and I loved it.”
Now Stevens is one of the standout performers in Class A track and field.
Take, as an example, Thursday’s five-school meet at Edward Little High School. Stevens won all four events he entered: the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the 4×100 relay and, of course, the javelin.
As Stevens winds down what has been an impressive junior year athletically, throwing the javelin might end up being his crowning achievement.
Stevens’ throw of 170 feet, 10 inches on April 27 ranks as the longest javelin throw not only in Class A, but in all of the state, according to the MaineTrackXC Milesplit rankings.
Although the start of the postseason is still a few weeks away, Stevens does have his sights set on still having Class A’s longest throw by the end of the state meet in early June.
“That’s his plan,” Danforth said. “He’s been watching other throwers and he really wants to be a state-champion javelin thrower. So, definitely, it’s on his radar.”
Stevens obviously has natural throwing ability — that was clear when Danforth saw him throw dodgeballs — but he’s also worked on the craft of throwing the javelin.
“Javelin’s really technical. If you don’t have a good technique, you can’t throw far,” Stevens said. “Obviously, strength’s a big thing with it, too, but if you have good technique then you can throw it far.
“When I first started, I just used my arm. But I learned over time to use my whole body and got way farther.”
Danforth said that Stevens has a solid grasp on the technique, but that he has yet to reach his potential in the javelin, in part because of the several intricacies of the event.
“As long as we can get him to do it all at once consistently, he throws it really well,” Danforth said.
“I think he can throw even farther than 170,” Danforth later adds. “I just think that the jav is so hard to throw consistently well. There’s all kinds of things that go into throwing the jav.”
When it comes to the sprinting events, Stevens has no trouble staying motivated and focusing on technique.
If he is even a step slow, he’ll get beat by Bowen. The two have gone back and forth this season. Stevens has won most of their showdowns this season, but Bowen did get him in the 100-meter dash last Monday at Mt. Ararat.
“He got pissed about that,” Bowen said with a laugh.
“We actually feed off each other,” Stevens said. “We have competitive spirit, me and him. It’s usually really close, photo finishes. We have fun with it.”
Danforth said wrestling is Stevens’ No. 1 sport — no surprise, since his dad, Tony Stevens, is the Oxford Hills wrestling coach — and Dawson Stevens said Thursday that he and the seniors-to-be are already getting ready to lead the 2017 football team.
His summer might be primarily occupied by those sports, but Stevens and Danforth have already talked about preparing for the New England championships should Stevens finish in the top two at the state meet.
So track and field is more than an afterthought to Stevens. It’s something that provides a competitive outlet in a fun environment.
“Track, it’s really unique,” Stevens said. “It kind of is like a social event, but then when it’s time to go, it’s very competitive. With wrestling and football it’s like, all the time you have to think about that.
“It’s a good time to relax mentally. Because football, I’m always like, go, go, go; and then wrestling is the same way. In track, I’ll run the 100 in 12 seconds or below, and after that I’m just hanging out with friends.”
Oxford Hills’ Dawson Stevens (8) gets forced out of bounds by Lewiston’s Davin Jackson during game in Lewiston last September. Lewiston’s Jeremy Madore and Oxford Hills’ William Mazariego are also in on the play.