"Imagine that!" the big hammer thrower said, mopping sweat from his face, "getting beat by a little guy like that." The speaker was 262-pound Shorty Folsworth, the place Lincoln, Nebraska's Memorial Stadium last July and the "little guy" Harvard's Samuel M. Felton, Jr. '48 who had just finished second in the National AAU 16-pound hammer throw with a shot of 172 feet, 5 inches.
Today, with the Olympic tryouts at Diche Stadium, Evanston, only a month away, Folton is high man in this country with a heave of 180 feet, 5 1/2 inches, made at last Saturday's New York AC meet. He has won the hammer throw in every meet he has entered this spring, including the IC4A championships, and is favored to take the National Collegiate title at Minneapolis this Saturday, and the National AAU crown on July 2-3 at Milwaukee. He set new Harvard records in both the hammer and discus during the recent season.
Most people wonder how he does it. Unlike the famous New York AC "whale" back around 1900, who used to have a dozen raw eggs (shells and all) dipped in mustard for breakfast every morning, Felton eats normally, claiming there is no special diet for hammer throwers today. He weighs only 178 pounds.
To make up for the brute strength he lacks, Felton uses speed and finesse. Like most good hammer men, he takes three turns, which require perfect timing and footwork. Getting the iron ball whirling around at top speed while staying within a seven-foot, hard-clay circle takes split second coordination. A hammer thrower should be able to start quickly, hold himself stiff without breaking at the waist, and on the turns, glide, not jump across the circle to the final explosive pivot lift. Some experts say he should be able to run 25 yards as fast as a sprinter. Felton can't break 12 seconds in the 100, but he has marvelous timing, and he glides across the circle with the deadly smoothness of a burning fuse sizzling toward a keg of dynamite.
May Break American Record
Most college hammer throwers figure they'll die happy if they hit 160 feet. The recognized world's record is 193 feet, the American record 189 feet, 7 1/2 inches, and the National collegiate record 183 feet, 10 inches. Felton, a six foot, 22-year-old Senior from Philadelphia, has thrown better than 180 feet twice this spring and hasn't fallen below 170.
He hasn't collected news clipplugs, though, since last year, when his Adams House maid accidentally threw out his entire set of notices. Medals, he keeps, carefully folded in strips of gray flannel. They fill up three or four small boxes. No meet is too small for him in the off season. Last summer, after placing second in the Nationals, he went down to Manchester, Connecticut and won the hammer throw at Tinty's Flying Ranch track and field meet.
Sam holds his coach, Jaakko Mikkola--Finnish Olympic coach in 1920 and 1924--responsible for most of the medals, although he admits Ed Flanagan, who helped Jaakko for awhile last year taught him a lot. A pre-med student, Felton wrote a psychology term paper this spring analyzing the reactions of track athletes under competitive pressure