Cragg Registers World-Leading and School Recor
BY ANDRES FOCIL
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Senior Alistair Cragg notched another outstanding performance in his Arkansas career when he ran the fastest 5,000-meter time in the world this year at Stanford’s Cardinal Invitational late Friday night. Cragg, a six-time NCAA champion, recorded a time of 13:16.98, against a talented field of professional and collegiate runners. Former Stanford standout and current Nike athlete, Jonathon Riley, had been holding down the top spot after he turned in a time of 13:21.11 at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17.
“It’s just phenomenal,” Arkansas head coach John McDonnell said. “He ran the race perfectly and he didn’t spend too much of himself. Most importantly he got that spot on the Irish Olympic team.”
Cragg’s time also broke his own UA school record of 13:22.07 he set at the 2002 Mt. SAC Relays. His name can be found all over the record book as he also owns the top school and collegiate time for the indoor 3,000 meters and the school indoor 5K record. In addition to being a world-leading time and a school record the Johannesburg, South Africa native guaranteed himself a spot on Ireland’s Olympic Team, besting the qualifying standard of 13:21.50.
“It’s a relief (to qualify to the Olympics),” Cragg said. “During the race I felt good. We had a pace setter there, Mark Fountain, and he took out the race out perfectly. All I had to do was finish what Mark set up for me. Now I can concentrate on training for the Olympics instead of chasing times.”
Fountain led at the beginning of the race and took the group out at 7:56 for the first 3,000 meters. Cragg maintained the blistering speed and stayed far ahead of the rest of the field, with the second-place finisher, Nike’s Brendan Rogers, crossing the line almost 30 seconds behind Cragg with a time of 13:44.52.
Now that Cragg has punched his ticket for 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece he will finish out the outdoor campaign as a Razorback and help Arkansas in its quest for the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships. The league meet is first on the agenda on May 13-16, in Oxford, Miss.
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