Penn Relays hammer throw preview

It is very easy to spend all three days of the Penn Relays inside Franklin Field. With so much action going on, there is rarely an opportune moment to get up from one's seat. Most people who leave the seating bowl only go as far as the concourse or the Carnival Village to get some food.

But Franklin Field is not the only stage for Relays events. The fields across the train tracks host events such as the discus, javelin and hammer throw.

I am as guilty as anyone of not getting out to those events. Perhaps I'll find a way to make it out there this year... or perhaps I'll get stuck in my seat watching 4x400-meter relays for hours on end. Oh well.

Here is a preview of this year's Penn Relays hammer throw event from Frank Bertucci of the Daily News.


Walter Henning is a hammer thrower.

At St. Anthony's High School on Long Island, he was a hammer thrower, even competing in the Olympic Development event at the Penn Relays rather than in the high school throws.

At LSU, where he's a senior, Henning is a hammer thrower.

"I did 69 (feet) in the shot put the one year I did it in high school," Henning said. "But the hammer is something I picked up and was really good at."

At 6-0, 215 pounds, Henning is probably the smallest weight thrower in every event he enters. Yet he is one of the best, a two-time winner in the college championship event at the Penn Relays, at 225-6 in 2009 and 237-9 last year; the NCAA outdoor champ last year at 239-5; and the NCAA indoor 35-pound weight-throw kingpin in 2010 and again in March with a winning 72-8 1/2.

In an event frequently dominated by foreign athletes, Henning is probably the most accomplished American hammer thrower in several years.

Yet, you will not see him at the Olympic Games. In fact, after this summer's NCAA meet, you may not see Walter Henning in a throwing ring again.

"That will be my last meet," he said. "I've accomplished everything I've wanted in my career. I've had a few job interviews (he's a criminology major at LSU) and have a few more interviews lined up.

"Sprinters get all the sponsorship money in track and field. For a thrower, all I'd get is shoes and clothing apparel."

And he's not one to complain about the fact that no one sees the hammer throwers, who are told to take their ball-and-chain to out-of-sight areas far way from the crowds watching those sprinters.

But it would be worth the trip to the Penn fields to see one of the best at his event one more time.