AUBURN — Javelins don’t always stick in the ground. Depending on the landing trajectory, the spear-like throwing implement may bounce when it lands. Often the best throws do solidly stick.

Unlike an ideal javelin throw, Cole Butler didn’t stick in one place. Yet, he’s still been the best at what he does wherever he’s landed.

In his first year throwing the javelin as a sophomore at Edward Little High School, Butler won the Class A state title. He then left the big-city school in the name of academics for Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone — a town of 2,000 people. There, Butler continued to throw the javelin, and won the Class C state title last year as a junior.

But again, Butler didn’t stick.

“If I had to sum it up in a few words, I’d say that MSSM just wasn’t for me,” Butler said.

So Butler returned to EL for his senior year, and with that comes a return to the top of Class A in the javelin. His season-best throw of 173 feet, 11 inches in Saturday’s KVAC Championships is the best in the state this year in any class. It was also Butler’s best throw ever.

His previous season-best was a hurl of 171 feet, 8 inches, which was enough to break the meet record at Maine Central Institute’s Husky Throw Down. That throw was actually a regression from his previous career-best. That came at last year’s Class C state championship, when Butler threw an inch farther.

It’s also only 13 inches more than the state-title winning throw Butler unleashed as a sophomore.

“It felt pretty good at first,” Butler said of throwing so far as a sophomore. “And I said if I stuck to it I could definitely improve, but I just didn’t train the way I should have. I put attention toward other things at the time.”

Butler said he didn’t have the same resources last year at MSSM that he does this year at EL. Butler now has two throwing coaches and a lifting coach.

Still, Butler said his results this season have been “mixed.”

“One meet, I’ll go from throwing 160s and just peaking at 170, to not even breaking 150,” Butler said.

Butler’s lifting coach, EL assistant Nicolas Keene, is less critical of Butler’s results.

“Cole has had a great senior season. While he might describe it as ‘up-and-down,’ I would not,” Keene said. “He has placed first in javelin every meet and set a meet record at the Husky Throw Down. He has had lifetime PRs in discus and shot put — including two first-place finishes in shot put.

“We had to ask Cole to carry our throws team this year on the boys’ side and he has. I believe this illustrates his level of expectation for himself because it shows that he is never satisfied, not even with a season in which he has exceeded his previous bests.”

Keene has had a big hand in Butler’s progression this year, even if that progress hasn’t necessarily shown up in the results.

“He’s helped me a lot, especially with the workout routine. It’s given me a lot of change, definitely a lot of different things, but I trust him,” Butler said of Keene. “It seems like it’s paying off because I’ve seen a serious improvement in my weightlifting abilities, as well as my coordination and agility.”

Butler said he had gone into every regular-season meet sore from working out. But that was all part of the plan for Butler to peak in the championships.

The biggest meets have been where Butler has been at his best in the past. Throws of 170-feet plus in both of his previous state championship meets proves that.

“I’m a lot better with competition. Much better. I feel much more confident in myself when I’m up against people that I know that are going to give me a run for my money. I can perform a lot better under pressure,” Butler said. “It gives you a sense of anxiety, and that helps in the end because you know you have to out-perform yourself in order to convince yourself that you can win. And even then you have doubts, but I like that.”

Butler said his season of rocky results has given him a “fair share of doubt.” He said he’s never had a lot of confidence in himself, stemming from not putting in the necessary training for the event in his first two years throwing.

He’s had more help than ever training this year. Besides working with Keene in the weight room, Butler has also worked with Maria Philbrook and Dawna Daigle on throwing technique. Keene said that pair has done an “outstanding job teaching and refining” those javelin nuances.

Butler is hoping that combining the proper training with what he calls his “natural” abilities will mean a long-awaited jump in his throwing distance.

There’s a certain mark that he’s still shooting for: A 176-foot throw that would break the school record.

“I’ve been looking at the EL school record for three years now,” Butler said. “I want to at least beat that.”

At least one person will be watching as intently as Butler at where his javelin (hopefully) sticks into the ground, and that’s Keene.

“As we move forward into the unknowns of championship season, one thing is for certain: All eyes will be on Cole, because every time he is holding the javelin there is a chance you might see something special,” Keene said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.