Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Next year’s main event: runners’ shot put throw
When the state track meet kicks off Friday, one event won't be held at Cessna Stadium in Wichita.
The throwers' relay, an event pitting teams of shot putters and javelin and discus throwers against each other, won't be included in the state program.
Actually, it never has been.
The 4x100 throwers' relay teams compete during the regular season, but their finishes don't count toward overall standings.
Instead, this is comic relief for the cheetahs and gazelles who zoom around the track in the sprints and distance events.
As for the throwers' relay, also known as the weight man's relay or even the fat man's relay by some, the event usually draws heftier guys whose metabolism might not match that of an 800 meter runner.
With the crossover taking place from throwers to runners, why not have actual relay members and other runners throw a shot put?
It might not be all that big of an adjustment, but then everyone could watch athletes compete in events that don't cater to their physique.
During my high school career, one track meet used rubber chickens as the "batons," while another invitational used a discus as the hand-off instrument.
If runners competed in throwing exhibitions, perhaps the shot put event could use grapefruit instead of the 12-pound weights.
This crossing-over maneuver actually worked well for one thrower.
When junior Billy Baska bowed out of the Tonganoxie boys' 4x100 relay May 14 at the Kaw Valley League meet, senior James Hartsthorn filled in. Hartshorn throws the shot put and has competed in the Chieftains' throwers' relay throughout the season.
The Kansas Wesleyan-bound football player motors around the track at strong pace.
Although Tonganoxie didn't place in the event, they stayed with the pack.
"He's obviously got some quickness for his size," THS coach Phil Williams said. "A lot of guys in his position wouldn't do it.
"I thought he did great."
Hartshorn competed in the 215-pound division in wrestling, so he doesn't rank as one of the larger weight throwers.
But he still was a thrower, and Hartshorn competed with the sprinters running their 100-meter increments.
Maybe it's time for throwers coach Matt Bond to start combing the running events for potential entries next season.
Come next spring he could have a new group throwing shots -- or grapefruits.