Cragg Named SEC Track Athlete of the Week
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After running the fastest 5,000-meter time in the world this year at Stanford’s Cardinal Invitational on April 30, senior Alistair Cragg was named the Southeastern Conference Track Athlete of the Week. Cragg has already earned the honor once this year after breaking the collegiate indoor 3,000-meter record in February. With this year’s two awards Cragg has now been given the weekly honor an unprecedented five times during his career at Arkansas.
“He’s a special athlete, no doubt about it,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “He has done some special things and I hope it’s not finished. He’s a great competitor and a very talented young man. His performance last week was outstanding.”
The six-time NCAA champion dominated the race and recorded a blazing time of 13:16.98, for first place honors against a talented field of professional and collegiate runners. The second-place finisher (Brendan Rogers) crossed the line almost 30 seconds behind Cragg.
Cragg’s time also broke his own UA school record of 13:22.07 he set at the 2002 Mt. SAC Relays. In addition to being a world-leading time and a school record the Johannesburg, South Africa native guaranteed himself a spot on the Irish Olympic Team, besting the qualifying standard of 13:21.50. He is Arkansas’ 23rd Olympian and will represent Ireland in Athens, Greece this August after changing citizenship two years ago.
The 5,000-meter race was Cragg’s first open event to compete in since the outdoor season started and he was also able to pick up the important NCAA regional qualification. He easily surpassed the 14:18.58 cut-off and became the second Razorback to qualify for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in that event, bringing himself one step closer to successfully defending his national title.
The SEC Championships in Oxford, Miss., on May 13-16, are next on the schedule for Arkansas. Cragg will help lead the Razorbacks as they will look to defend title, making it their 11th outdoor crown and 73rd overall conference championship.
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