Do Yourself A Favor And Pay Attention To The 'Put


By Glen Hazelwood

In the last article I wrote, I stated that there were two things that I personally thought were going to develop into the biggest, most compelling stories in New York high school track and field going into the 2015 track season.

The first was how completely psyched I am about the prospects for our boys distance runners this year. There's just such a deep pool of talent there, and I think we're going to see and hear about some incredible things happening on virtually any day there's a meet.


The second is easily as compelling as the first, and in some ways even more so.


Every single event in high school track and field comes with a huge, all but unattainable standard that over the years became nothing less than the "Holy Grail" of that event.

A 4:00 mile, a 10 sec. 100m, an 18 foot pole vault, etc. and so on.

Of the hundreds of thousands of athletes that participate, it comes down to just a handful that even sniff at these marks, and only a fraction of that group ever actually attain them.

These marks are so close to impossibility, for even the most extremely talented high school athletes, that it's silly to even bring them up for discussion in most cases.


The athletes that hit these marks are a special breed, that somehow have combined whatever genetic inheritance they're fortunate enough to possess with superb coaching and unbelievably intense training, to achieve by the age of 18 what many successful college athletes never even approach in their entire careers. Some of these marks are more “well known” than others, but in my opinion one of the most overlooked "Holy Grails" of high school track and field is a shot putter throwing 70'.


I'm going to cut right to the chase here and say that I sincerely believe that Eric Favors of North Rockland has an absolutely legitimate shot at being New York State's first ever 70' shot putter....and that's my other New York high school track and field "Story of the Year" for 2015.


Let me start by saying that I do not know Eric Favors outside of watching him at meets, and that everything that leads me to believe that he can achieve 70’ is based upon observation, speculation and past performance.


I first heard about Eric a few years back, when his brother Darius was still throwing in high school. Darius was a real good thrower and one of the top guys in Section One at the time and as a former thrower, I tend to pay attention to those guys.

I heard somewhere that he had a younger brother just starting out and the name stuck.

And quite honestly, it didn’t take Eric very long to stop being “Darius’ little brother” and start being extremely noticeable in his own right.


One of the first things you might notice about Eric Favors, in the context of being a shot putter, is that he’s not the typical huge guy you’d expect a shot putter to be. Nobody would look at him on the street, out of uniform, and say, “Wow…you must be the nation’s pre-season #1 ranked high school shot putter!”

If anything about Favors could be construed as a “downside”, I suppose that would be it.

But you’d have to be trying awfully hard to find a downside.

And you would be laughably incorrect.

Because when all is said and done, and the ball ends up out in the parking lot, you’re going to look completely ridiculous even approaching the notion of a downside to this kid.


Moving on to the vast amounts of “upside”…


Eric Favors is an absolutely incredible technician in the ring. He throws like he completely understands every part of what it takes to make a 12lb ball get from here to there…and what he then needs to change or improve upon to get it out to THERE on the next one.

When you watch him throw, be it in warm-ups or in competition, he looks like every single throw is a learning experience for him, and that he takes something away from the circle with him every single time.

I can almost imagine him at practice, taking a throw and then coming out of the ring shaking his head, unhappy with it….then running into the gym, picking up a 50lb weight and curling it three times…then going back to the ring, throwing again and nodding like, “Yeah…that was it.”

No motion or effort seems wasted, and every blink, twitch and breath seems designed purely toward one objective…making the ball go farther.

In an event that often comes down to millimeters, that kind of attention to detail matters tremendously.


A lot of high school shot putters get by, and even do very well, on just brute strength.

Favors has that.

Those that don’t have it can sometimes compensate for that with speed and quickness.

He has those things, as well. Oh boy, does he have those things!

But not many high school throwers take the time to learn and understand the elements involved into why the ball does what it does when it leaves their hand.

Favors adds that, too…and the manifestation of that “total package” approach makes him an extremely scary high school thrower.


Another thing I’ve noticed about Favors is that he’s one of the most intense high school athletes that I’ve ever seen. He has an aura about him when he’s ‘working’ that makes him seem unapproachable…like he’s in his own private world, and there’s just no place there for you.

I’ve gone up to him once or twice and shook his hand to congratulate him on a good performance or ask how he was feeling going into a meet.

But there were a whole bunch of other occasions where I intended to do that, and after seeing the look in his eyes and the vibe he was putting out, thought better of it and just let him be.

He’s super intimidating when he’s got the “game face” on, which I imagine is a huge factor on the football field, where he also excels…but is so in its own way in the ring, as well.

I want to be 100% clear that I DO NOT say what I just said as if it were a bad thing.

Quite the contrary, on those occasions where I walked away I did so chuckling to myself and saying, “Man…this kid’s gonna drop some bombs today!” I get that. And it matters a lot!

And the few times I did speak to him, he was completely polite and respectful and seemed to be a real nice kid.


That kind of intensity is beyond uncommon in high school athletes, but at the same time seems almost a necessity for one who’s questing after a “Holy Grail” standard.

You’re simply not going to run a 4:00 mile, or pole vault 18 feet, or toss the shot 70’ in a casual manner. You have to be 100% “ALL IN” mentally to do that, along with all the other elements, and Favors seems like he has a pretty good grip on that part.


The thing that locked this whole thing up for me happened back in August of this year.

I’d brought my sons to one of the Summer Twilight Series meets at Somers High School. Kevin was running the 1600m, and my younger boy, Justin, was competing in his first high school age-group meet in shot and discus. Kevin’s been around and knows the ropes, so I stayed close with Justin by the throwing rings.

Favors was at the meet and warming up when we got there. We stopped and watched him throw for a while, as he dropped bomb after bomb in the 58-60’ foot range. For whatever reason almost every one of them was a sector foul to the left, but it’s still impressive to watch 60-footers, as well has having an opportunity for my “newcomer” son see someone doing this event exceptionally well.

Then it became insanely impressive when I heard someone say he was throwing a 16lb ball.

I texted Kyle Brazeil right from the field….”Eric Favors is going 70’ this year”


In the previous article, I listed a number of potential pitfalls that “high level” high school athletes start facing when they get to a certain point in their careers.

Increased school pressures and life pressures and whatever other pressures are applicable.

The higher expectation levels…which I find predominantly come from the athletes themselves, but occasionally are put forth, completely unintentionally, by some writer who’s a big fan, but who doesn’t really matter at all. J


But I sense that Eric is going to do just fine with those things. He seems so wired in to his sport, in a way that’ll make most of that stuff just bounce right off of him…and that’s another layer that sets these “Holy Grail” athletes apart from the norm.


As I said earlier, I don’t know Eric Favors.

Everything that leads me to believe that he can achieve this incredible standard is based purely on observation, and my conclusions are no more than my own opinion.


But there are a few things I do know about him…


I know he put the work in. You just don’t get to this level without doing so. There is no “natural ability” that would allow that without extensive training piled on top of it.


I know he comes from arguably one of the best high school throwing programs in the country. North Rockland has consistently produced monstrous throwers for a long time.


I know that he has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone but himself, and whether he hits 70’ or not, his body of work already speaks for itself.


And I know that I want so much for him to find his 70-footer.


Because I’ve never seen a high school 70-footer, and I want to be there for his.

Because I’m a former thrower myself, and I totally “get” how ridiculously big that would be!

Because it would be so incredibly cool to have a 70-footer from New York State!!


But mostly because of what it takes to get there…all the hard work, all the training, all the pain and sweat that’s involved in achieving a goal such as that.

That “Holy Grail” mark would be an absolutely amazing reward for all that this young man has invested into his sport.


Best of luck to you this year, Mr. Favors.

I can’t wait!