PB’s Babb part of track history

Glenn Babb had one intention when he entered the 880-yard race in the 1960 Meet of Champs — to win.

If it wasn’t for another runner who led most of the race, Babb might not have made history.

“A runner from Camden Fairview, William Tinsley, set the pace,” recalled Babb, a Pine Bluff resident who was a senior at Stephens in 1960. “Basically when I ran, I did not understand pace or timing. My intention was to win the race. As it turned out, I was fortunate to win several races.”

In fact, Babb went undefeated in the 880 that year, repeating as district and state champion and earning a chance to defend his Meet of Champs title.

By catching Tinsley, Babb not only won the race. He became the first Arkansas high schooler to run a sub-2 minute time, clocking in at 1 minute, 59.4 seconds.

“Without enough speed in front of me, I wouldn’t have done it,” Babb said.

For his high school and collegiate accomplishments, Babb will be inducted into the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame on June 8 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hilton in North Little Rock. He’ll be inducted along with another Pine Bluffian, Elbert Stinson, and former Arkansas-Monticello athletes Milton Williams and Greg Culp.

“It’s an extreme honor, a very great honor,” Babb said. “Something that just is exciting to me.”

Babb joined the Stephens track team when it began competition in 1958. He said the 880 became his specialty because his coaches put him in distance running.

“They worked with the seniors in sprints, and they told the sophomores to go run some laps,” Babb said. “I kind of gravitated to the distance running because that’s where the coaches decided to put us. I consider myself very fortunate I ran distance.”

Babb went on to run at the University of Arkansas from 1961-64, earning three letters. As a junior there, he was part of a 2-mile relay team that set a school record.

Babb moved to Pine Bluff in 1969 to become principal of Trice Junior High (the building of which is now part of Pine Bluff High School). He then became Southeast Junior High principal and worked as an assistant superintendent in the Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel school districts before retiring in 1997.