Timmons had to petition to let Knop put the shot at Detroit, because the NCAA only allows two men per event from any one school. This was unfair to Doug, because he had been consistently over the 55-foot qualifying standard and had been beaten only by Karl and Steve.
For a while Timmons toyed with the idea of splitting up the trio last weekend, sending one to the Penn Relays, one to the Colorado Relays and one to Drake, in the hope that they could win six titles. "But we've been a team all year, and I just couldn't do it," Timmons said. "Whenever I think of them, I think of them together. They get on real well together, but they compete hard. They don't give in."
So all three were on the long bus ride from Lawrence, Kans. to Des Moines last Tuesday, sitting by themselves because of their shoulders. They stoked up on a big breakfast Friday morning before the discus competition—eggs, toast, French toast, bacon, orange juice, sausage and, for Wilhelm and Salb, great chunks of pecan pie for dessert.
Knop had been psyched all week about meeting Oregon State's Tim Vollmer, and perhaps he was too tense. He barely fouled with his heel on his first throw, threw out of bounds on his second and was so careful and slow across the ring on his third that he didn't get any distance and failed to make the finals. Vollmer won, with a throw of 187'1", Salb took second and Wilhelm was sixth. Knop was so disappointed at not reaching the discus finals for the first time in his life that he stayed after everyone had gone home and took 15 practice throws, none under 180 feet.
Nobody was expected to beat the Kansas trio in the shot, even in the rain, and nobody did. Salb, using the same muddy towel to dry his shot and his neck, won with a toss of 62'�", Wilhelm was second at 59'5" and Knop third at 59'2".
Shotputting is not, by a long shot, Salb's only athletic accomplishment. Last fall he played for the Jayhawks' seventh-ranked football team as a defensive tackle. Since he had been at South Lake Tahoe trying to make the Olympic team (he finished fourth in the shot, barely missing the trip to Mexico), he didn't go out for football until the Tuesday before the opener against Illinois and didn't put on pads until Wednesday. He played that Saturday at middle guard, defensive end and defensive tackle, and was a starter by the fourth game.
"He might set coaching back a hundred years," said Kansas Football Coach Pepper Rodgers.
Salb the Slab quickly made a name for himself at KU, but that's nothing compared to his impact on Crossett, Ark. (pop. 5,548), his home town in the dense forests near the Louisiana border. He played defensive tackle for the state AA champion Crossett High Eagles, set a state record in the discus and a national mark (69'6") in the 12-pound shot.
The U.S. record was made at the Golden West Invitational in California, and when Salb got home the little paper-mill town of Crossett organized a Karl Salb Day, with a parade, a barbecue, T shirts that read KARL SALB and such distinguished guests as Lieut. Governor Footsie Britt and Kansas Coach Timmons, who just happened to be passing through Crossett. ( Frank Broyles had tried and failed to get him for Arkansas. "I don't think the family ever felt a part of Arkansas," he says. "They'd come from Indiana.")
"I felt kind of dumb riding down the main street on the back seat of a convertible," said Karl.