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Track star becomes third two-time winner

6/23/2004

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas track star Alistair Cragg was
named the Southeastern Conference's male athlete of the year
Wednesday, becoming the third two-time winner of the award.

Cragg, a seven-time NCAA champion, joined Florida quarterback
Danny Wuerffel and LSU basketball star Shaquille O'Neal as the only
two-time winners of the award.

Cragg won the award over athletes such as Ole Miss quarterback
Eli Manning, the top pick in the NFL draft, South Carolina catcher
Landon Powell, a first-round draft pick by the Oakland A's, and SEC
basketball player of the year Lawrence Roberts from Mississippi
State.

"It's a strange feeling. It puts me a position where I know I
have achieved something great," Cragg said. "But it's hard for me
to realize what. I cannot judge my competition against my own
abilities until I look at what they've done. With the kind of names
that were nominated for this award, it's one of the best
achievements I've had in my career."

Cragg, who will run the 5,000 meters for Ireland at the Olympics
in Athens, Greece, won five league championships this year.

"It's very deserving," Arkansas track coach John McDonnell
said. "He's had an amazing career at the University of Arkansas
and this is a great way to cap it off. The way he performed all
year speaks for itself. It's nice that other people have recognized
his accomplishments and he has joined an elite group of athletes."

The Roy F. Kramer Male Athlete of the Year award is voted on by
the league's athletic directors. Alabama gymnast Jeana Rice won
female athlete of the year honors.

"Alistair and Jeana 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."

Besides his seven NCAA titles, Cragg is a 14-time All-American,
nine-time SEC champion and 18-time All-SEC selection.

The only Arkansas winners of the male award are Cragg and
basketball player Corliss Williamson, who led the Razorbacks to the
1994 national championship.

At the SEC Outdoor Championships, Cragg scored 30 points to earn
the Commissioner's Trophy and helped lead the Hogs to the
conference title. He won the 10,000, 5,000 and 1,500 meters,
becoming the first athlete in Arkansas and league history to claim
all three titles in the same year.

At the Cardinal Invitational Cragg recorded a then world-leading
5,000-meter time of 13:16.98 for top honors. His time broke his own
school record and guaranteed him a spot on Ireland's Olympic team,
making him the Razorbacks' 23rd Olympian.

He capped his season by winning the 10,000 meters at the NCAA
Championships, setting a school record for NCAA titles won (seven)
and points scored by a runner in NCAA meets (86).

At the SEC Indoor Championships, he successfully defended his
3,000-meter title and he also captured the 5K crown, shattering a
14-year-old SEC championship meet record at 13:42.95. He tallied 20
points for Arkansas and shared the Commissioner's Trophy with
teammate Tyson Gay and Auburn's Leevan Sands.

At the NCAA Indoor Championships, he earned 20 points when he
successfully defended his 3,000 and 5,000-meter titles.

Cragg garnered several individual accolades for his final
collegiate Indoor season, including the United States Track Coaches
Association's (USTCA) South Central Regional Athlete of the Year
and Male Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. He was also named the
SEC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.