The Impossible Record? Michael Carter's Untouchable Shot Put

AUSTIN, Tx. -- The high school national record has stood for over 40 years. It might last another 10, 20, heck, it may never be broken again. 

To this day, Michael Carter is still the only high school athlete in history to throw 80 feet in the shot put with the 12 pound implement, achieving rarified air in 1979 when he launched the ball 81 feet, 3.5 inches at the Golden West Invitational. 

On that day, Carter achieved the dream: A performance so great it may never be touched again. 

There are some boys records that remain legendary: Michael Granville's high school national record of 1:46.45 at 800 meters from 1996; Darrell Robinson's effort of 44.69 seconds in the 400m from the National Sports Festival in 1982; Alan Webb's mile time of 3:51.83 from the Prefontaine Classic in 2001; and Andra Mason's high jump mark of 7-7 from the IAAF World U20 Championships in 2002. 

But those records, while great, are relatively within reach by many high school athletes these days. 

Carter's 81-3.5? 

As LetsRun's Jonathan Gault first wrote in 2019, "the difference between Carter and the second-best thrower in high school history at the time, Sammy Walker (72-3.25), was just over nine feet, or 12.5%." 

To this day, Carter's career best outdoor mark with the 12-pound weight is still over five feet better than the next best throw in history -- Brent Noon's 76-2 in 1990.

In 2011, Ryan Crouser -- the current World outdoor and indoor record holder with the 16 pound shot put and a two-time Olympic champion in the event -- threw 77-2.75 in his last year of high school, which is still a little over four feet shy of Carter's record. 

Michael Carter, now 62 years old, is the greatest high school thrower anyone has ever seen. 

MileSplit sat down with the Dallas, Texas native during the UIL Outdoor State Track and Field Championships at Mike Myers stadium in May, for our ongoing Legends of Track and Field series. 

Below, an excerpt of some of Carter's most significant thoughts: 

On his national record, which still stands today from 1979: 

"That's at the top for me, you know? All the NCAA titles, the World University Games title, the football boards and titles that we won. This was an individual effort when I had to get out in that ring and compete. I had to go out and do the training. No one can push me to be the athlete or go out there on a cold day and throw. You had to go out there and make it your mind's determination to get out there and go to work every day, regardless of what the weather says, how you feel, what injuries you have, you have to make yourself better." 

On the Texas State Championships: 

"This is the Holy Grail for track and field, high school track and field, here in the state of Texas. Regardless of what you do, how good you were during the season, whatever times and mark you met, it doesn't mean anything until you get to the state meet and give it your best and walk away with the medal, if not the championship."

On breaking national records in the late 70s: 

"I was motivated and I was driven to say, 'OK, in my senior year, I wanted to smash it.' I wanted to go for it 10 times. I wanted to break it 10 times, but things didn't work out that way. And so I wanted to go out with a bang and that's what kept me going forward to try and break the record, whatever it was." 

On developing his athleticism: 

"The speed comes into the different movements in the technique of the glide and being explosive and all that came out just being in my childhood, just being outside playing and doing the things that we now take for granted." 

On breaking 80 feet in the shot put: 

"Michelle's mom, Sandra, which was my girlfriend at the time, she's the real reason why I went 81 feet. Going into that meeting, that was my last high school meet of my high school career. I said, 'OK,' my goal was to go in there and break 77 feet and that's all I was thinking of. 'I"m going to break 77 feet.' I talked to her the night before on the phone. And so when I'm getting off the phone, she said, 'Throw 80 feet for me.' I ain't never thought of 80 feet, you know? And I just say, 'OK,' so I couldn't make myself out to be a liar."

On the perfect throw: 

"The perfect throw is never going to be perfect, but you can get as close as you can and see what happened. If you happen to have a person that has the perfect throw and he's the perfect athlete, it may be 90-95 feet." 

On whether 80 feet is reasonable again:  

[It's going to take] "Someone that's going to be very special and dedicated to throwing, it's going to take a special athlete and, with this day and age, everyone pushing special athletes to either football or basketball, to split their time up, it's going to be tough to get."

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