For 200 feet, the 16-pound ball arcs silently over the grass, trailing a long wire like the tail of a comet. Then a lung-straining howl pierces the air—a sound of exertion that invokes the fury of ancient warring tribes.
This is the hammer sailing through the air, and like the shot put, the discus and javelin, it has never traveled so far in Durham as it does these days. Last spring, four upperclassmen throwers qualified for the NCAA East Regionals, where they competed with some of the best field athletes in the country.
Into this success steps the very large foot of a 7-foot, 350-pound freshman discus and shot put thrower named Matt Riley '13. Riley, who may also compete in the hammer and the weight (and, if he is selected in the spring, the football team), comes off a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy.
Three of his new teammates hold school records in their respective events: Paey for the shot put; Mike Simon '11 for javelin; and Jeff Kaste, a graduate student competing in his final year of eligibility, for the indoor weight throw.
Asked about the psychological make-up of a typical thrower, track and field coach Jim Boulanger '75 says a thrower can be laid back, "but when they get into the ring or on the javelin runway, they turn a little nutty."
Walk within a mile of the ring this year and you'll hear the proof of this statement. Paey spins a few times and sends the hammer into its brief orbit. He follows it into the sky with a strange caterwaul.
Riley says his yell helps him throw. "When I yell, or scream or grunt, it's usually when I throw the farthest. You release a little more energy and it helps that ball go a little further."Return to UNH Magazine Campus Currents