Alistair Cragg Selected as 2002-03 SEC Male At
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Junior Alistair Cragg has been selected as the 2002-03 Southeastern Conference Male Athlete of the Year it was announced on Friday by the league office. The award, voted on by the league’s athletic directors, goes to the most outstanding student-athlete in competition in any of the conference’s sports. Mississippi State basketball player LaToya Thomas won female athlete of the year honors.
“Alistair and LaToya are wonderful representatives for their universities and this conference,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “They have competed at the highest level and through their hard work, dedication and commitment have shown the true meaning of being a student-athlete. The SEC is extremely proud to honor these two student-athletes for their accomplishments. We congratulate them on their efforts and wish them the best in their future endeavors.” Cragg is only the second Razorback to win male athlete of the year honors from the SEC. Corliss Williamson won the award in 1994 after leading the Hogs to a national championship in basketball.
“For Alistair to win this award is fantastic,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “There are so many great athletes in the SEC in every sport, so to be recognized as the best is truly outstanding. We are the most dominant conference in the country. He has definitely joined an elite group.
“It is a great honor for him and the school. It is well deserved. He is not just a great athlete, he is a great person.”
Cragg’s cross country and track and field seasons were nothing short of phenomenal. During the 2002-03 campaign, he earned three individual national titles, five All-America honors, four conference crowns and helped Arkansas to two team national championships.
In cross country, his runner-up finish at the SEC Cross Country Championships helped Arkansas to their 12th consecutive conference title. At the 2002 NCAA Cross Country Championships he was the national runner-up and the top Southeastern Conference finisher in the 254-person field. He also claimed the South Central Regional title.
He helped lead the Razorbacks to their 37th national indoor championship when he successfully defended his 5,000-meter title with a Tyson Track Center and school record time of 13:28.93. He also won the 3,000-meter run with a time of 7:55.68.
At the SEC Indoor Championships he was awarded the Commissioner’s Trophy as the individual high point scorer at the meet. Cragg captured the 3,000-meter (7:56.99) and mile run (3:59.14) titles for 20 points. Earlier in the indoor season he broke a five-year old collegiate record in the 3,000 meters with a time of 7:45.22.
His performances at the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships clinched the Hogs’ 38th national title when he orchestrated a heroic and commanding win with a time of 13:47.87, in the 5,000 meters. Cragg became only the second Razorback athlete to win the NCAA 5K. He crossed the line hand in hand with teammate Daniel Lincoln in the 10,000 meters and was awarded second place with a career-best time of 28:20.29.
At the SEC Outdoor Championships Cragg dominated the distance races as he broke two meet records, while claiming gold. He ran the 5,000 meters in 13:41.04 and the 10,000 meters in 28:42.73. His 20 valuable points helped Arkansas win its first league outdoor crown since 2000 and complete its SEC triple crown.
Cragg was selected from a field of nominees which included: David Kimani, Alabama (track); Leevan Sands, Auburn (track); Matt Bonner, Florida (basketball); David Pollack, Georgia (football); Clayton Moss, Kentucky (diving); Aaron Hill, LSU (baseball); Stephen Head, Ole Miss (baseball); Marquis Davis, Mississippi State (track); Brian Buscher, South Carolina (baseball); Stephen Harris, Tennessee (track); Bobby Reynolds, Vanderbilt (tennis).
Thomas was selected from a field of nominees which included: Ashley Miles, Alabama (gymnastics); Christin Wurth, Arkansas (track); Maggie Bowen, Auburn (swimming); Candice Scott, Florida (track & field); Maritza Correia, Georgia (swimming); Sarah Witten, Kentucky (tennis); Muna Lee, LSU (track); Mira Radu, Ole Miss (tennis); LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State (basketball); Jocelyn Penn, South Carolina (basketball); Vilmarie Castellvi, Tennessee (tennis); Chantelle Anderson, Vanderbilt (basketball).
Past recipients of the SEC Athlete of the Year Award included: 2002 – Walter Davis, LSU (track & field) and Andree Pickens, Alabama (gymnastics); 2001 – Matias Boeker, Georgia (tennis) and Amy Yoder Begley, Arkansas (cross country/track); 2000 – Kip Bouknight , South Carolina (baseball) and Kristy Kowal, Georgia (swimming); 1999 – Tim Couch, Kentucky (football) and Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee (basketball); 1998 – Peyton Manning, Tennessee (football) and Chamique Holdsclaw, Tennessee (basketball); 1997 – Danny Wuerffel, Florida (football) and Trinity Johnson, South Carolina (softball); 1996 – Danny Wuerffel, Florida (football) and Saudia Roundtree, Georgia (basketball); 1995 – Todd Helton, Tennessee (baseball) and Jenny Hansen, Kentucky (gymnastics); 1994 – Corliss Williamson, Arkansas (basketball) and Nicole Haislett, Florida (swimming); 1993 – Jamal Mashburn, Kentucky (basketball) and Nicole Haislett, Florida (swimming); 1992 – Shaquille O’Neal, LSU (basketball) and Vicki Goetze, Georgia (golf); 1991 – Shaquille O’Neal, LSU (basketball) and Daedra Charles, Tennessee (basketball); 1990 – Alec Kessler, Georgia (basketball) and Dee Foster, Alabama (gymnastics); 1989 – Derrick Thomas, Alabama (football) and Bridgette Gordon, Tennessee (basketball); 1988 – Will Perdue, Vanderbilt (basketball) and Dara Torres, Florida (swimming); 1987 – Cornelius Bennett, Alabama (football) and Lillie Leatherwood-King, Alabama (track and field); 1986 – Bo Jackson, Auburn (football) and Jennifer Gillom, Ole Miss (basketball); 1985 – Will Clark, Mississippi State (baseball) and Penney Hauschild, Alabama (gymnastics); 1984 – Terry Hoage, Georgia (football) and Tracy Caulkins, Florida (swimming); 1983 – Herschel Walker, Georgia (football/track and field); 1982 – Buck Belue, Georgia (football/baseball); 1981 – Rowdy Gaines, Auburn (swimming); 1980 – Kyle Macy, Kentucky (basketball); 1979 – Reggie King, Alabama (basketball); 1978 – Jack Givens, Kentucky (basketball); 1977 – Larry Seivers, Tennessee (football); and 1976 – Harvey Glance, Auburn (track and field).
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