CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (CBS19 Sports) -- Nine Cavaliers are representing UVA at the NCAA Championships, including Ethan Dabbs.  The javelin thrower is underway in a record-breaking season, but his comeback story is not done being written.

Arm strength has always been a part of Dabbs identity. In high school, he was a quarterback and a pitcher but had no idea where his arm would take him.

"I subbed into a game because my starting quarterback got hurt and my head coach was like 'take the ball drop back wait a couple seconds and just throw it as far as you can. So I did exactly that, waited, stepped and threw and I threw it like 75 yards in the air and overthrew our receiver by like 15 yards or something to the time."

The high school throwing coach saw him and convinced him to join the school's track and field program to compete in javelin. He joined UVA track & field and just like his introduction to the sport, his story with Virginia has been anything but conventional.

His first season, Dabbs joined a competitive javelin group. Still, he made his mark by winning the ACC title and setting the ACC Championship record at 76.04m. Eager to for more, he would not get to compete for the next two seasons. His sophomore season was canceled because of COVID. His first meet back his junior season, he tore his UCL in his throwing arm, sidelining him for the remainder of the spring. 

From March to May, he did not pick up a javelin as he dealt with the pain. However, he didn't want the entire year to go to waste and trusted his own confidence. He went out to ACC Championships his junior season and ended up repeating with the title, even with the tear in his elbow.

"I didn't throw before ACCs," said Dabbs. "That was the first day I threw in three months. I'm not someone who reminisces a lot but it's cool to say I did that because you get this sense of resilience and if I could get through that I can get through everything."

In July, Ethan had Tommy John surgery to fix the tear. With all of the missed time he already had during his UVA career, he was motivated to get back to full strength.

"The one thing that motivated me through the recovery process was 'How good would the story be of having UCL surgery in July and then coming back and winning nationals in June?'" said Dabbs. "So that's been my biggest motivation throughout the whole recovery process is kinda digging deep into myself and figuring out where my values lie and really kinda getting after it to make that story happen."

Ethan focused on lifting and jumping training during the start of his rehab process to return to throwing form, adding another challenge when he was unable to pick up a javelin.  

"I think I am overshadowing the fact that there's mental battles, physical battles there's emotional stuff that you have to get through," said Dabbs. "I think with throwing, at least for me, it's kind of part of my identity and going through that I think the mental battle was harder than the physical battle because you get part of your identity taken away."

 Ethan now sports a scar on his elbow but carries the load from his rehab into a historic year. At ACCs, not only did he repeat as the conference champion for the third straight season, but he is just the fourth ACC athlete to do so in history. His throw was 82.92m, setting a new ACC record and the highest mark in the NCAA at the time.

Virginia student-athletes vote each year for different honors with the Hoos Choice Awards, and Dabbs was recognized as the Comeback Athlete of the Year. But his comeback story is still far from over.

"I think I'm a stronger person for it and I'm passionate about javelin and I kinda take this attitude of nobody's outworking me and I kinda take that into competitions because I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything but I really doubt anyone's been putting in more work than me this past year," said Dabbs.