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Tony Harlin Tony Harlin
Inducted: 2003 - Graduated: 1976

Did Tony Harlin put his heart and soul into shot-putting?

That’s like asking if Paul Bunyan knew how to handle an


Tony sliced a mean swath through his field en route to the

greatest shot-putting career any Rocklander has ever produced.

The pinnacle of his career came in 1984, when he

finished fifth in theU.S. Olympic Trials and missed a berth

in the Olympic Games by just two places. It remains the

highest finish in Olympic-sports competition of any

Nanuet High School alumnus.

The 6-foot-2 man-mountain, who weighed anywhere from

240 to 300 pounds during his competitive career, burned

with a fiery passion that manifested itself in statements

like, “Shot putting is one thing I can always do, and I’ll do

it till I die.”

Or, back in 1984 when he was aiming for that shot at the

Olympics in Los Angeles: “If I don’t make the Olympics,

I’ll find a meet that day. If there are no meets around, I’ll

go out and throw in the woods.”

Or, after he had suffered a broken breastbone and damaged

chest cartilage when a 500-pound barbell fell on his chest

while weightlifting: “I guess I’mlikemy English bulldog. I’m

stubborn. I always have to try that one more time.”

That’s classic Tony Harlin. Give himthat heavy steel ball—

12 pounds for high school competition, 16 pounds for college

and open competition—and watch him unleash a few more

of his trademark, high-arcing heaves.

During a career that spanned two decades, Tony barreled

through the high school, college and open ranks like the

Incredible Hulk on a rampage. It all began innocently

enough, when he was cut from the basketball team his

freshman year at Nanuet. As Tony remembers it, Ed

Denton, who was an industrial arts teacher at the school as

well as the weights coach for the track team, asked him to

forget basketball and give the shot put a try.

Tony’s response: “Shot put? What the hell is that?”

After some good-natured coaxing, Tony accepted

Denton’s offer—and was eternally grateful for it. “He told

us we’d have a lot of fun, and we did,” Tony says. “I couldn’t

wait to see what he would do the next day” to keep things interesting. “He made it fun to be there.”

Tony combined natural strength, speed and flexibility to

make an indelible imprint on high school shot-putting. His

scholastic accomplishments include the following:

• As a senior at Nanuet, he was the 1976 New York

State indoor (winter) track champion, and came

within a quarter-inch of the spring track state title,

finishing runner-up despite competing with a partially

separated shoulder.

• He’s the Rockland County scholastic record holder

at 66 feet, 1/2 inch, which ranks him fourth on the

all-time New York State list in that event. His best

indoor track mark of 62-4 1/4 ranks eighth.

• He’s a six-time Rockland County champion and

four-time Section 9 Class B titleholder.

• He placed third in the GoldenWest Invitational

national scholastic meet in California. The meet

was recognized as the premier high school meet in

the country.

• He finished third in the U.S. Junior National


• He won shot-put titles at the prestigious Penn

Relays, New York Relays, Iona Relays and

Hartford Invitational.

Tony was no slouch in the discus, either. He broke

a 25-year-old Rockland County record in 1975,

with a throw of 166 feet, 11 inches. That mark still

ranks sixth on the all-time Rockland County list.

As a senior he won Rockland County and

Section 9 Class B titles in this event.

He was awarded a Black & Gold Scholarship in 1976.

After graduating from Nanuet, Tony enrolled at the

University of New Mexico, where he spent one year

and set the school’s freshman shot-put record. But his

collegiate career really took off when he transferred

to Manhattan College, where he won six IC4A

(Eastern) titles—he never lost at that meet—and captured

several other major invitationals.

After college, Tony continued to train and overcame a

series of injuries and other setbacks to become one of the

better throwers in the country. He won the Metropolitan

Athletics Congress championship eight times, besting the

top throwers in the New York metro area. Seven times he

walked away with the gold medal at the Empire State

Games, an Olympic-style competition for New York state

residents.He’s still theGames record-holder in the shot put.

In addition, Tony holds the Rockland County record for

the 16-pound shot, at 68 feet 7 inches. In his last major

competition, he finished 11th in the 1992 U.S. Olympics


These days, Tony, who’s 45 and lives inNanuet, works as a

laser technician at Chromalloy in Orangeburg. His job

involves drilling and welding to repair jet engine parts.

Tony has two children: James, 18, a freshman at Ramapo

College in Mahwah, N.J.; and Amanda, 12, a sixth-grader

at HoHoKus (N.J.) Middle School.