High-school junior Henry Chevrolet--""Indian"" on account of father Jimmy's Cherokee lineage--is counting on his talent for shot-putting to get him out of Laurelton, Arkansas, via a scholarship to UCLA. Newly-arrived Golly Owens, a puny misfit with aspirations to equal Indian's track records, seems no threat; and Indian befriends Golly despite the derision of his buddies. More alarming is the approach--through his previously indifferent coach--of a local gambler/ car dealer who wants Indian to throw the state finals to set up better odds for the nationals to follow. And when Indian, inspired by Golly's fighting spirit, defiantly wins the state finals and places second in the nationals, his hand is crushes by thugs. Suddenly abandoned by Golly--who also usurps Indian's place with their classmates--and depressed by his curtailed ability to train, Indian starts his senior year flirting with drink and weighing Jimmy's offer of work in his new service station. . . until a chance meeting with his dissipated former coach moves him to shape up. (Realistically, Indian doesn't immediately regain his former prowess; less realistically, undertrained Golly consistently beats him in their initial matches.) Golly's involvement with the gamblers gives Indian his chance for revenge: he forces Golly to win a match he was supposed to lose, and to turn in the gamblers and corroborate Indian's former testimony. Achieving a shotput over 70 feet, Indian returns to victory, receives the UCLA scholarship, and makes up with Golly. An offbeat sport integrated with broad characterization into a dramatic, upbeat story.