Cragg Finishes Eighth in European Cross Countr
BY ANDRES FOCIL
MEDULIN, Croatia. – Junior All-American Alistair Cragg represented Ireland in a field of over 200 runners at the 2002 European Cross Country Championships and came away with an eighth place finish, becoming the first Razorback to compete in the race while still in school. Cragg turned in a time of 29:13 in the 9,830-meter race on Sunday to help lead Ireland to a sixth place showing. Although he is originally from South Africa, Cragg was allowed to represent Ireland since both of his grandparents were Irish.
“He ran a great race,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “He ran with all the best runners in Europe. It was very good for him and it gave him a chance to make a positive impact. He stole the show as a young Irishman coming out of no where.”
Race conditions where very windy on the Medulin, Croatia course as Cragg led during one stage of the race, but in the end locked up to cross the line in eighth. The individual winner, Sergey Lebid of the Ukraine, who finished second at the World Cross Country Championships in 2001, took this year’s European title with a time of 28:58, while Spain won the team championship with 31 points.
Cragg had a stellar 2002 cross country season. At the NCAA Championships he finished in a very close second place (29:06). Cragg claimed the South Central Regional and OSU Jamboree individual titles, with his career-best time coming at the 10K Chile Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. He finished second (28:46) behind the eventual Southeastern Conference Champion, David Kimani of Alabama. Cragg finished second (24:20) again at the 8,000-meter Southeastern Conference Championships in Gainesville, Fla.
Cragg is expected to perform well again and defend his 5,000-meter NCAA title when the indoor season begins. The Razorbacks’ first meet will be the Sooner Invitational in Norman, Okla., on January 18, with the SEC West Challenge following in Fayetteville, Ark., on January 25 at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
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