Craddock out for another title

Florida triple jumper Omar Craddock is confident he will win the event at NCAAs. (Photo courtest UF Communications)

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 11:19 p.m.


More Gators in the NCAAs

Here's a look at all of UF's athletes who will be competing at the men's and women's NCAA championships. The qualifiers include 11 male athletes, 14 female athletes and three relay teams:

Women's 100 Meters – Darshay Davis
Women's 200 Meters – Darshay Davis, Destinee Gause
Men's 200 Meters – Dedric Dukes
Women's 400 Meters – Ebony Eutsey, Lanie Whittaker
Men's 400 Meters – Najee Glass, Hugh Graham, Jr., Arman Hall
Men's 800 Meters – Sean Obinwa
Men's 3,000-Meter Steeplechase – Mark Parrish
Women's 1,500 Meters – Cory McGee, Agata Strausa
Women's 10,000 Meters – Florence Ngetich
Women's 100-Meter Hurdles – Ugonna Ndu
Men's 110-Meter Hurdles – Eddie Lovett
Women's 400-Meter Hurdles – Ugonna Ndu
Men's 4x100-Meter Relay – Florida
Women's 4x400-Meter Relay – Florida
Men's 4x400-Meter Relay – Florida
Women's Long Jump – Lorraine Graham
Women's Triple Jump – Ciarra Brewer
Men's Triple Jump – Omar Craddock, Marquis Dendy
Men's Hammer Throw – Jeremy Postin, Kyle Strawn
Women's Javelin Throw – Fawn Miller, Marija Vucenovic

In a college track and field career that's winding down, Florida senior triple jumper Omar Craddock can look back on his accomplishments with pride. “It really did fly by,” Craddock said. “They say it flies by when you have fun and I've had fun. What I can look back on is being on a team full of champions. I was part of history.” Craddock already has earned four NCAA title rings, three for UF's 2010, 2011 and 2012 indoor national championships and one for UF's 2012 outdoor national title. Through those years, Craddock learned from former Florida standouts like Will Claye and Christian Taylor. Now, it's Craddock's turn to lead. The Killeen, Texas, native is one of a school-record 28 qualifiers who will take part in the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The meet starts today and runs through Saturday in Eugene, Oregon.

Craddock is in good position to defend his NCAA men's championship in the triple jump. He earned the top seed in the meet with a mark of 16.04 meters (52 feet, 7.5 inches) at the NCAA East prelims in Greensboro, N.C. But it hasn't come easy for Craddock during his senior year. A heel injury followed by a bruised knee in early March at the Texas Relays were setbacks that Craddock was forced to overcome. “For a good triple jump you need to be strong and fast and you need balance,” Craddock said. “I started having some heel and knee problems during the indoor season. I really had to start back from scratch. It was about a two-month process.” As a result, Craddock fell short of repeating his NCAA indoor title, finishing second even though he posted a personal best 16.8 meters. But he's peaking at the right time. Craddock won every outdoor event he competed in this season, including a 16.43-meter jump at the Texas Relays in front of family and friends. On Monday, Craddock was named the South Region Men's Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association. “I feel very confident,” Craddock said. Craddock's career at UF almost never got started. A two-way high school football standout (running back, quarterback), Craddock accepted an offer to attend Arkansas on a half track/half football scholarship. But when Arkansas assistant coach Dick Booth left in 2009 to join Florida's staff, Craddock followed him to Gainesville. Craddock said he approached former UF coach Urban Meyer about playing football. “He had a lot of guys so I turned my focus to track,” Craddock said. Craddock said the goal for Florida is to repeat as NCAA men's champions this week. With 11 athletes and two relay teams qualifying, Florida will need strong performances in every event. Track & Field News picked the Arkansas men to win this week's NCAA meet with 65 points, followed by Texas A&M with 60 points and host Oregon with 55 points. “I feel like it's very possible,” Craddock said. “I'm very confident that I'm going to win (the triple jump) and I think (UF sophomore) Marquis Dendy will be right behind me. Also we're pretty strong in the relays, the 4x100 and 4x400. We have a lot of points out there that we can get.”

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