Cragg a dominant force

This is the latest in a series of features on the 2009 University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor inductees.

Former Razorback great Alistair Cragg put his stamp on the Arkansas program in the three short seasons he donned the Cardinal and White. A self-admitted creation of former Head Hog and Hall of Fame coach John McDonnell, he joined the Arkansas team after taking an extended break from running.

Working with McDonnell, coupled with his natural talent and dedicated work ethic, Cragg became one of the finest in a lengthy list of successful and dominant Arkansas and NCAA distance runners.

"No one is tougher in a race than Alistair Cragg," McDonnell said. "He was a very coachable athlete. He listened and believed in the process. That, along with his natural abilities, is why he was so successful. He was determined to win every race he was entered in. And he raced intelligently. Guys like Alistair don’t come along every day."

Cragg dominated any event he competed in, ranging from the fast-paced 1,500 meters outdoors and the mile indoors to the grueling 10,000 meters. A 13-time All-American and seven-time NCAA Champion, Cragg is one of Arkansas’ most dominant and decorated distance runners.

He won nine SEC individual titles during his time at Arkansas; four indoors and five outdoors. He was named the SEC Athlete of the Year for his performances during the 2003 and 2004 indoor seasons and for the 2004 outdoor season. Cragg remains as the SEC meet record holder in the indoor 5,000 meters (13:42.95) and the outdoor 5,000 meters (13:41.04).

On the NCAA level, Cragg owns seven NCAA individual titles; five indoors, including three straight in the 5K (2002-04), and two outdoors (5,000 meters, 2003; 10,000 meters, 2004).

In the record book, Cragg holds the NCAA best in the indoor 3,000 meters (7:38.59). He remains as Arkansas’ record holder in the indoor 3,000 meters (7:38.59), the indoor 5,000 meters (13:28.93) and the outdoor 5,000 meters (13:12.74).

Records and titles aside, Cragg will always be recognized for his dedication to his teammates. He was well-known for running in any race that, at a championship event, he could score points in. He also worked for and promoted the success of his teammates.

At the 2003 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Calif., Cragg competed in the 10,000 meters with teammate and current 3,000-meter steeplechase American record holder Daniel Lincoln. The duo controlled the pace of the race and evident that he would win as they approached the finish line, Cragg slowed down to let Lincoln win the race.

His international experience is as deep as his collegiate ranks. Cragg was a member of Team Ireland for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games in Sydney and Beijing, respectively. Additionally, he was the 2005 European Indoor Champion at 3,000 meters (7:46.32).

UA Sports Hall of Honor members are selected by a vote of former letterwinners in conjunction with the “A” Club. The official induction is Friday, Sept. 18, at the Holiday Inn in Springdale. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased from the Razorback Foundation. For more information, call the Razorback Foundation at 479-443-9000.