Track and Field

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Entries - Entry Category: Track and Field

Bell, Earl Holmes

Earl Holmes Bell of Jonesboro (Craighead County) is one of the most renowned U.S. men’s pole vaulters and coaches, a three-time Olympian, and five-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record holder. His achievements include setting the world’s outdoor record in 1976; qualifying for the Olympic Games in 1976, 1984 and 1988; and winning the bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics. He was the U.S. national champion in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—a remarkable three-decade achievement for an athlete. After turning to coaching by founding Bell Athletics in Jonesboro, he was named the 1998 National Olympic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 2004, Bell Athletics alone produced half of the U.S. Olympic pole-vaulting team. Earl Bell was …

Campbell-Brown, Veronica

Veronica Campbell-Brown is a former University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) track and field athlete who specializes in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100-meter relay. A citizen of Jamaica, she is the most decorated Olympic athlete affiliated with the state of Arkansas, having won eight Olympic medals from 2000 to 2016. In addition to her Olympic accolades, Campbell-Brown has garnered numerous medals at the youth, junior, and senior levels of competition. In 2007, she became the first of eight track and field athletes to win an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship title, in her case in the 100 meters, at all three competitive levels. Veronica Campbell was born on May 15, 1982, in Clarks Town, Trelawny, …

Carr, Bill

aka: William Arthur Carr
William Arthur (Bill) Carr was the first Arkansan to win two gold medals in the same Olympic games, setting new records for track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles, California, Olympics. At the age of twenty-one, he set an Olympic record of 46.2 seconds in the 400-meter sprint, which stood until 1948, when it was tied. In 1954, he was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Time Olympic Team. Bill Carr was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on October 24, 1909, the younger of William L. and Ann Holmes Carr’s two sons. In the fall of 1925, Carr entered Pine Bluff High School, searching for an organized team sport that would accept him. At the strained height of 5’6″, if …

Conley, Michael Alex

Michael Alex Conley is a former basketball player and track and field athlete for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). One of the most successful combination long and triple jumpers in history, he achieved career long jump bests of 8.46 meters outdoors (1996) and 8.31 meters indoors (1986), and triple jump bests of 17.87 meters outdoors (1987) and 17.76 meters indoors (1987). The latter stood as the world record until 1994. Ranked among the world’s top ten triple jumpers from 1983 to 1996, Conley claimed number one in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1993, and 1994. He ranked second in the world in the long jump in 1985. In all, Conley won thirty-three national and international horizontal jump …

Greene, Charles Edward

Charles Greene, born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was a track and field champion who won the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1968 Olympic Games. He also took gold—and was part of a world-record performance—in the 4×100-meter relay in 1968. Charles Edward (Charlie) Greene was born on March 21, 1945, in Pine Bluff. Six months after his birth, his mother, Bertha Johnson, moved them to Chicago, Illinois, to escape the segregation of Pine Bluff. In January 1946, they moved to Washington State, near the Grand Coulee Dam, where she took a job as a domestic worker. Later that year, the family moved to Seattle, where his mother worked as a barber and cleaned houses part-time. Greene began …

Hamm, Eddie

aka: Edward Barton Hamm
Edward Barton (Eddie) Hamm was a state- and world-class athlete in high school, college, and the Olympics. In the 1928 Olympics, he set a world record in the long jump, becoming the first Arkansan to win a gold medal. The Atlanta Journal called him “the South’s first world champion in any sport.” Eddie Hamm was born on April 13, 1906, in Lonoke (Lonoke County) to Charles Edward Hamm, a plumber and electrician, and Zilpah Dare Harris Hamm. He was the oldest of five brothers and one sister. Raised in Lonoke, he excelled in sports, especially track and field. In high school, he won the state long jump for three years straight, 1923 to 1925, setting a state record of 23’2″ …

Henderson, Jeffrey Todd (Jeff)

While competing for Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood (Pulaski County), Jeffrey Todd (Jeff) Henderson became one of the top track and field athletes in Arkansas, excelling in the long jump. As a collegiate athlete, he developed into one of the top long jumpers in the United States. In 2016, he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the second Arkansas-connected athlete to win in the long jump. Jeff Henderson was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 19, 1989, to Laverne Henderson and Debra Henderson; he was raised in McAlmont (Pulaski County). He is the youngest of five children. Henderson played football while at Sylvan Hills High School, but by his …

Hill, Thomas Lionel

Thomas Lionel Hill is a track and field star, who, as a student at Arkansas State University (ASU), was ranked number one in the world in the high hurdles by Track and Field News. After graduating from ASU, he claimed the bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1972 Olympic Games. Tom Hill was born on November 17, 1949, in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of five sons of Mattie Hill, who was a domestic worker. He grew up in the Magnolia Housing Project and attended Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. In high school, Hill participated in track and field, competing particularly in the high jump and long jump. As a senior, he took third place in …

Hines, James Ray (Jim)

Jim Hines, born in Dumas (Desha County), is an Olympic track and field star who won gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in the 100-meter dash and the 4×100-meter relay, as well as establishing world records for both. His record for the 100 meters stood for fifteen years. James Ray (Jim) Hines was born on September 10, 1946, in Dumas, the ninth of twelve children of Charlie Hines and Minnie West Hines. In 1952, the family moved to Oakland, California, where his father worked in construction and mother in a cannery. As a center fielder on the Lowell Junior High School baseball team, he caught the eye of the McClymonds High School track coach, who asked Hines to join the …

Joyner, Alfredrick Alphonso (Al)

Alfredrick Alphonzo (Al) Joyner is a track and field star who won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles for the triple jump, the first American in eight decades to win the event and the first African American. He attended Arkansas State University (ASU), where he later returned as a coach, and was the winner of the prestigious Jim Thorpe award, honoring the best American field athlete at the Olympics. He married track legend Florence Griffith, who came to be known as “Flo Jo” after her marriage to Joyner. Al Joyner Jr. was born on January 19, 1960, in East St. Louis, Illinois, to Alfred and Mary Joyner, both then in their teens. Alfred Joyner Sr. worked …

Kastor, Deena

Deena Kastor is a long-distance runner who was named All-American at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She is an Olympic medalist for the marathon, holds American records in both the marathon and half-marathon, and is an eight-time national cross-country champion. She was named the top women’s marathoner in the world by Track and Field News magazine in 2006. Kastor is renowned for her courage after a freak mishap during the World Cross-Country Championships in 2000. Deena Michelle Drossin was born on February 14, 1973, in Waltham, Massachusetts, later moving to Agoura Hills, California. She began long-distance running at age thirteen, breaking the 3,000-meter national record and reigning as the two-time National Cross Country Champion in the …

Kochel, Guy Ward, Jr.

Guy Kochel became a renowned track-and-field coach at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). His career has included building a successful college-level track program, guiding Olympic medalists, working in financial services, and serving as a church pastor. Guy Ward Kochel Jr. was born on May 16, 1941, in Reydell, an unincorporated farm community in Jefferson County. His parents, Pauline Kochel and Guy Ward Kochel Sr., owned a store, with his father also farming and serving as postmaster. An only child, Kochel was attracted to athletics from an early age. He played whatever sport was in season, including baseball and track, but later said his first love was baseball. He attended high school in DeWitt (Arkansas County), which was …

Little Rock Marathon

The Little Rock Marathon, the largest marathon in the state, began in 2003 with 2,527 registered participants and has grown to well over 10,000 runners and walkers as of 2013. It is traditionally held each year on the first Sunday of March. The course begins in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and runs through the River Market District and Quapaw Quarter District, and then by the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, Little Rock City Hall, the Arkansas Arts Center, Philander Smith College, Central High School, the Arkansas State Capitol, and Murray Park before reaching the finish line in Riverfront Park. The Little Rock Marathon began in 2003 as a fundraiser for the City of Little Rock’s Parks and …

Long III, Dallas Cutcher

Dallas Long, born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), is an Olympic gold and bronze medalist who was consistently ranked as one of the top shot put competitors in the world. Dallas Crutcher LongIIIwas born on June 13, 1940, in Pine Bluff, the son of Dallas Long Jr. and Connie Long. Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where his father practiced medicine, he played football and threw the shot put at Northern Phoenix High School. As a high school senior in 1958, Long established a national high school record of 21.10 meters in the twelve-pound (5.44 kilograms) shot put, and tossed the sixteen-pound (7.26 kilograms) shot put 18.60 meters. At the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU) national track and field championships, he finished second to …

McDonnell, John

John McDonnell served as track and field coach at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1972 to 2008. In total, his teams won forty NCAA championships and eighty-four conference championships. His teams also produced 116 NCAA individual champions and 652 All-American certificates, while McDonnell himself was awarded thirty National Coach of the Year awards. John McDonnell was born on a dairy farm near Crossmolina, County Mayo, Ireland, on July 2, 1938, just a few miles from Ireland’s west coast. He was the seventh child of eight born to Bridget and Michael McDonnell. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and spent much of his childhood working on the family farm. McDonnell finished high school in 1958 in Dublin …

Mitchell, Bobby

Robert Cornelius (Bobby) Mitchell played professional football for the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins before becoming a scout for the Redskins. He is the only athlete born in Hot Springs (Garland County) to have been selected to the National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame. Bobby Mitchell was born in Hot Springs on June 6, 1935, to the Reverend Albert Mitchell and Avis Mitchell. He became a four-sport standout at Langston High School in Hot Springs. The local media referred to Mitchell as “Mr. Touchdown” due to the talents he exhibited on the high school gridiron. In 1953, the senior-packed Langston team, coached by Fred Mason, took the Negro State Football Championship, going undefeated in conference play. Mitchell was …

Rector, James Alcorn “Indian”

James Alcorn “Indian” Rector, who took the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 1908 Olympic Games, was the first Arkansan to win an Olympic medal. His nickname “Indian” is said to have been given to him by his teammates or East Coast track fans who said he ran like an Indian. Born on June 22, 1884, in Hot Springs (Garland County), James Alcorn Rector was the fourth of six children of Elias William Rector and Rosebud Alcorn Rector. His paternal grandfather, Henry Massie Rector, served as governor of Arkansas, while his maternal grandfather, James Lusk Alcorn, served as governor of Mississippi. His father practiced law and was a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. After attending schools in Hot Springs, …

Running and Walking

In Arkansas, running and walking have long been used for exercise and fitness. Enthusiasts support each, especially as Arkansans become more health conscious. Arkansas also is home to a number of events and organizations devoted to running and walking. Walking draws the largest percentage of people exercising, but, beyond basic fitness walking, there are also speed walkers (sometimes referred to as power walkers) who walk at paces ranging from ten to sixteen minutes per mile. There are also race walkers who must abide by specific USA Track and Field (USATF) rules when it comes to form and style of walking. They can be very speedy, often walking faster than many runners. One club in the state is dedicated only to …

Scott, Clyde Luther “Smackover”

Clyde Luther “Smackover” Scott, who received his nickname and his notoriety as a football player from the town he grew up in, became legendary at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). An Olympian and a two-sport star for the Razorbacks, he was named the state’s athlete of the century by readers of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2000. Scott was a three-time Southwest Conference player and an All-American in football in 1948. He also lettered in track and proclaimed himself to be self taught in this sport. Clyde Scott was born in Dixie, Louisiana, on August 29, 1924, to Luther and Callie Scott. His father was a gang manager for Liberty Oil Company. Clyde was the third of …

Stephens, Kenneth Gene (Ken)

Kenneth Gene Stephens of Conway (Faulkner County) was one of Arkansas’s most successful high school and college football coaches, leading North Little Rock High School to three state championships and the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) to four Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) titles. He also led several other schools to winning seasons during his nearly forty-year career as a head coach. Ken Stephens was born in Conway on April 2, 1931, to Earl and Edna Stephens. Earl Stephens was a dairyman, and Edna Stephens was a housewife who had a dress shop business next to the family home. The couple had four children. Stephens began participating in track and field as a sophomore at Conway High School. He competed in …

Whipple, Win “Skinny”

aka: James Winfield Whipple
James Winfield “Skinny” Whipple of Arkadelphia (Clark County) was a track and field star in high school and college. He set numerous records in the broad jump while at Arkadelphia High School and at Louisiana State University. He set an Arkansas high school long jump record of twenty-four feet, which stood for more than fifty years. Win Whipple was born in Crowley, Louisiana, on September 10, 1915, to Fredrick and Pearl Maxwell Whipple. He had three sisters and two brothers. Shortly after Winfield’s birth, the family moved to Arkadelphia, where his father opened a restaurant. At Arkadelphia High School, Whipple participated in football, basketball, and track and field. Although he trained in all of those areas, the broad jump (now …