Alistair Cragg Named Indoor Athlete of the Yea
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For an unprecedented second-straight year senior Alistair Cragg was named the 2004 Indoor Male Athlete of the Year by the United States Track Coaches Association (USTCA). The Johannesburg, South Africa native was given the honor after he established another outstanding season in an Arkansas uniform during his final collegiate indoor campaign.
“It’s well-deserved,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “To come back the next day and run the 5,000 after he won the 3,000 the night before was just superb. I can’t say enough about Alistair’s performance. I’ve been coaching for a long time and his was as gutsy of a performance as I’ve ever seen. He really came through for us and he’s such a great team man.”
Last weekend at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships Cragg made his mark in the records books when he became the first athlete in the history of the national meet to capture the 3,000-meter title three-consecutive years. He came back the next day to successfully defend his 5,000-meter crown and tally 20 of UA’s 38 points at the meet. It marked the second-straight year Cragg had earned the most individual points of any competitor at the meet.
He was also only the second athlete in NCAA meet history to win both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs two years in a row. The late David Kimani accomplished the feat in 2000 and 2001 under the jerseys of South Alabama and Alabama.
Cragg now has five NCAA indoor individual titles to his name, the most of any runner in Arkansas’ legendary track history. During his three-year career at UA Cragg has earned 76 NCAA meet points, the most of any Arkansas track athlete not competing in a field event, surpassing Godfrey’s Siamusiye’s 60.25 (1994-97).
At the Southeastern Conference Championships in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 28-29 he earned top honors in the 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs and tied with teammate Tyson Gay for the Commissioner’s Trophy. To top it off, his 5K time of 13:42.95 was a facility and SEC meet record. With his finishes Cragg now owns six league championships.
In addition to his great national and conference performances, Cragg staged a memorable appearance at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14, when he reclaimed the 3,000-meter collegiate record with a blazing time of 7:38.59.
With the indoor season behind him, Cragg is preparing for the World Cross Country Championships in Brussels, Belgium. He will represent Ireland as he competes on the 4,000-meter course on March 20.
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