While there might not be much
track going on in New York State, there is plenty of history to pore
through. In our time off, we are looking to revisit all of the State
Records for the Outdoor Season. Who these athletes were, where their
marks came from, and where are they now. Twice a week, we'll be
releasing "Snapshots Of A State Record," where you can learn what it
takes, to put your mark on history. Tune in!
We look here at a record from back in 2007. Enjoy!
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Walter Henning is feeling right at home as he steps into the shot put pit for a throw. And he should be. It's the 36th annual St. Anthony's Invite at St. Anthony's HS on Saturday, May 5th, 2007, and Henning has been the star weight events guy on the St. Anthony's team for pretty much his entire high school career.
The shot put isn't the outdoor event that Henning is most known for in the nation. That would be the hammer throw, which will be held separately on Monday for this meet because it's a bit dangerous to run it at a crowded invitational. Henning will make a big statement in the HT at that time.
But here on Saturday it's the shot put he's doing, and he has a decent resume in this event too. He won the national title in the shot at National Scholastic Indoor Championship in March with a throw of 64-1.75, so he has all the right moves in the SP also. There's not a lot of pressure here since only States Indoor runner-up Dennis Faherty of West Islip can throw even in the high 50s. Henning will win the shot by almost 10 feet.
Henning is not a huge guy, but he is known for his technique in whatever weight event he has tried, and he has tried them all. On a good day with great footwork and perfect spin, he can send the shot out to where the marking officials will be dodging for their lives. He has been known to destroy basketball backboards with overeager throws while practicing in the gym. The Armory spent $150K to upgrade its throwing cages because Henning's monster weight throw tosses were endangering runners.
With a quick whip around, Henning lets fly with a toss that's way way out there on the St. Anthony's stadium infield. It takes a while for the distance to be measured and remeasured, but when the result is announced it is a PR by a huge amount of feet. It is also a state record at 68-11.75, adding more than a foot to the old best NY mark.
Henning's day is done, except maybe for the remote chance he might be called on to do a relay leg, since he has some good speed for a weight guy. But his meet will not be over until Monday when he flings the hammer out to a national record of 255-11. All in all, a good couple of days worth of work.
Walter Henning Jr. started learning how to do the weight events when he was a skinny 8th grader in Kings Park on Long Island. His father, Walter Henning Sr., was the head track coach and assistant football coach at Farmingdale HS, and Henning got to hang out with his dad and see the track world from an early age. He grew up playing a lot of different sports and spent 10 years in gymnastics learning skills that would translate well to T&F's weight events. Although on his middle school track team he was a sprinter and hurdler, he also had a big interest in the weight events, especially the newly introduced hammer throw for NY athletes. This enthusiasm led him to seek out the local private throws coach Marty Engel who was an American Olympic hammer thrower way back in 1952.
Under Engel's tutelage, Henning learned the expert techniques for doing the hammer throw, javelin, weight throw, discus, and of course the shot put. Henning was a dogged student of the weight scene, watching films and the spin moves of other throwers and gradually as he put more and more distance on his heaves and some bulk to a frame that would eventually reach about 6'2" and 220 lbs. in high school. As an 8th grader though he was already breaking records with states bests of 144-2 in the hammer throw and 137-11 in the javelin.
Enrolled at St. Anthony's in Huntington, his throws coach John McCree was hugely impressed with the freshman's maturity, and with good reason. During indoor season he won at the NSCHSAA Frosh/Soph championship with a shot put throw of 58-2.5 with the lighter 8 lb. weight. He also threw the weight throw 56-8.5 to set a national frosh record. Outdoors he set another national record with a 193-2 throw in the hammer and a state record of 156-6 in the javelin. Taking a break from spring football practice, he traveled down to the Adidas Outdoor Nationals in Raleigh NC in 2004 and took 3rd place in the hammer with a heave of 187-0. From then on, football was in the past and track and field was his future.
In 2005 Henning continued to roll up the big heaves, setting a national sophomore record in the weight throw of 75-0.5 at the Farmingdale Invite and then winning a national title at the National Scholastic Indoor Championship with a toss of 69-8.75. Outdoors he set a state record of 226-6 in the hammer throw and finished 2nd at Nike Outdoor Nationals at 213-4 while also compiling some big marks in the other weight events, including a 57-0.75 to win the shot put at the St. Anthony's Invite.
Henning just plain dominated in his junior season as he won the States championship in the shot put with a throw of 58-0.5. He then took a national title in the weight throw at the Nike Indoor Nationals on Saturday, March 11, 2005 in Landover MD with a meet record 83-2. His parents drove him back to NYC that night, and on Sunday he took a second national title in the rival NSIC at the Armory with a toss of 85-6. Still versatile in the four weight events in the outdoor season, he pushed the state record in the hammer throw to 247-0 with a national title at the NON, and then pushed it up to 252-6 at the Empire State Games. His year ended with a trip to Beijing for the IAAF World Juniors championship where he placed 8th.
The senior season for Henning followed a similar successful pattern. Indoors he won a state championship in the shot put at 59-11.25, and then won national titles in the NSIC in the shot at 64-1.75 and the weight throw at 86-5.5 for a national record. Outdoors he set that big state record of 68-11.75 in the shot put and a national record of 255-11 in the hammer throw just days apart at the St. Anthony's Invite. He went on to capture another NBON HT championship with a meet record 249-0. One more record came his way in July at the USATF Juniors in a slightly heavier Juniors class weight as he won the hammer throw with a throw of 241-5.
Henning had a very successful college T&F career, splitting time between University of North Carolina and then LSU. He won NCAA indoor championships in the weight throw in 2010 and 2011 and an outdoor title in the hammer throw in 2010, finishing 2nd in 2009 and 2011. He did throw the shot put a bit, but it was not a special event for him.
Before Henning had his big shot put toss, the record was held by another Long Islander Ed Ellis of Patchogue-Medford at 67-8. Ellis set the record on May 20, 1982 at the Suffolk County Championship.