Michelle Carter remembered the first conversation she had with her famous shot-putting father about following in his shot prints.
Carter, then a seventh grader, approached her father, Michael, an imposing figure (6-foot-2, 285 pounds, circa 1984) with an even more imposing track record (seven-time NCAA champion, Olympic silver medalist), and said, "Dad, I'm thinking about going out for track."
Dad: "What are you going to do in track?"
Daughter: "I'm going to throw."
Dad: "Are you sure?"
Daughter: "Yeah, why not?"
Dad: "OK, but you don't know what you're getting yourself into."
About eight years later, Carter got herself into the winner's circle yesterday at the 113th Penn Relays, capturing the college women's shot-put crown.
The Texas senior also got herself one of those coveted gold watches, joining her father as a second-generation champion. In 1981 and 1984, Michael Carter claimed the college men's shot put while at Southern Methodist. His title-clinching toss of 68 feet, 41/4 inches in 1984 stood as a record for 22 years until Florida State's Garrett Johnson eclipsed the mark by a quarter inch last year.
The women's record (60 feet, 6 inches) withstood Carter's best try yesterday, a heave of 56-6 on her fourth attempt. Actually, Carter couldn't top her two previous bests at the Relays - throws of 57-6 in 2006, and 57-43/4 in 2005.
But those marks came in runner-up finishes, last year to four-time champion Laura Gerraughty of North Carolina and the previous year to Miami's Kimberli Garrett.
"Winning was one of my goals coming here," said Carter, "especially after finishing second the last two years."
The 2006 NCAA indoor champion led the nine-woman field throughout the competition, but Northeastern's Zara Northover did make things interesting with a hurl of 53 feet, 1/4 inch on her fifth try. Her sixth and final attempt, though, was well short.
Carter, meanwhile, said her father (and mother, Sandra, too) would receive her first good-news phone call. Michael Carter, perhaps better known as the all-pro nose tackle for the San Francisco 49ers from 1984 to 1992, is retired in Dallas, but still coaches a summer track team, the Texas Throwbacks.
Michael Jr., a junior in high school, competes for the Throwbacks and is a football-playing shot-putter just like his old man. If you think Michelle has big shoes to fill, Michael Sr. still holds one of track's most revered records for high school boys, a chuck of 81-31/2 in the shot put in 1979.
And there's one more Carter throwing heavy objects. D'Andra, a sophomore at Texas Tech, is more accomplished with the discus, but she, too, partakes in the family business of shot-putting.
According to Michelle, her father never pushed his past on his progeny. They were encouraged to play other sports, but all three naturally gravitated to the unique event despite their father's big shadow.
"It was never a burden," said Carter, who flew home last night before competing in tomorrow's Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. "I just always looked at him as my dad first. If anything, it was easy."
Maybe Carter knew exactly what she was getting herself into.