The Lockhart Hand Off
By Harry Hilgers
LHS Class of ‘44
Back in 1943, I was a member of the 4 by 100 relay team. I was the lead off man. Red Ewald was second, Albert Livengood was third and Bill Blackwell was the Anchor man. We went undefeated that year, beating Austin High School as our crowning achievement. I know now that we owe our success to a young boy, barely out of his teens, a student at the University of Texas, who “hitched hiked” every day to come to Lockhart to coach the track team. That was during WWII and all of the Coaches were in the Service. Well, it turned out to be a blessing since we were taught a new, untested, method of “handing off the baton.” It was considered to be high risk but he taught it so well we never had an accident such as bad handoff. I wish that I could spend just one hour with any “sprint relay” team and teach them Byron Fullerton’s method which he named, “The Lockhart Hand Off.” Byron, later became the Associate Dean of the University of Texas Law School and following that, The Dean of the Texas Tech Law School, so we had a very smart Coach who proved his worth by beating Austin High School with their 3,000 students in a dual track meet. I have outlined the essentials below of that method so that one can see the wisdom in his new concept.
Significantly, the method in the Lockhart Hand off was we did not “look back ever.” This was all forward thinking and faith in our teammate to deliver the baton in the right place. The hand was always “fixed” in place and never moving, the thumb was placed, firmly against the thigh so that the runner never need search for where it would be as it was in the other methods being used, even today. The baton was delivered in an upward movement by the incoming runner’s hand, not downward which, along with the receiver’s hand being moving was never a reliable method. That upward motion was easy to do and was instantaneously received allowing the runner to save as much as two seconds time. Today, I still see the wrong methods being used, even in the best universities which I know that they have never discovered the Lockhart Hand Off and if they did, all of the Universities would, for self preservation, adopt it, immediately. I hope the Lockhart Track Coach reads this. I know his reputation and what a great distance coach he is, but even though this will not be necessary in the distances, he is the caliber of coach who will always want to do what is best for his team. If he needs it, I will come down and show him the details but I doubt that he will need it after reading this description. I want the name, “Lockhart Hand off” to stick. It started here.