There's only one thing Tony Tenisci loves more than track: field.
Listen to the veteran throwing coach talk about his passion:
"I tell my kids they're a physics equation," said the Penn assistant women's coach and four-time NCAA All-America in the hammer throw for Washington State. "Axis of rotation. They're like Newton. Axis-rotation. If you do it right you get closer to God. The whole universe is axis-rotation. It's just fantastic."
OK, before you dismiss Tenisci as someone who has rotated one too many times on his axis, the guy is an affable, intelligent fellow who simply has a passion for his sport.
"Wow," said Tenisci. "If you stick a throw after a triple or quadruple rotation and it goes 60 meters or 200 feet, where does that happen in real life?"
Well, it happens Sundays in the spring immediately after dad hammers his thumb instead of a nail. But enough carpentry humor. Competitive hammer throwers have heard them all. Here's a quick primer on the tools of a thrower's trade:
Hammer: A heavy steel ball (16 pounds for the big guys; 8.8 pounds for women) is attached with wire. After three or four spins the competitor lets it fly, hopefully in a straight line. The most famous hammer thrower of all time is probably the mythological menance, Thor. Back then, hammers looked like hammers.
Shot put: A heavy metal ball (16 pounds for men, 8.8 for women) called a shot is held against the neck before it is pushed up and out in an arc from inside a circle. Competitors either spin or glide and hit a toe board with their foot as they release. They never throw the ball like a baseball unless they want to rip something on the inside of their arm.
Discus: A heavy Frisbee-like disc made of rubber, plastic, wood, or metal with a metal rim and a metal core is flung side-armed after spinning. Unlike those ancient sculptures you might have seen, competitors wear clothes.
Javelin: A lightweight spear made of metal, fibreglas or carbon fiber is held overhead and thrown after sprinting down a padded runway. As an unsuspecting official learned a few years back, the stick is sharp on the end and it's advisable to keep out of the line of fire.