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Dennis Craddock, left, was presented the Priceless Gem in October 2012 by Senior Associate Athletic Director Beth Mill and Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.
Dennis Craddock, left, was presented the Priceless Gem in October 2012 by Senior Associate Athletic Director Beth Mill and...
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Craddock To Be Inducted In Hall Of Fame
Release: 07/18/2013


NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Thursday the six coaches who will be inducted into the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame as the Class of 2013.  Ron Allice, Al Cantello, Dennis Craddock, Curtis Frye, Jim Hunt and Paul Olsen have all made a significant impact on the history of track & field at the collegiate, national and international levels through their coaching and the legacies of their student-athletes and will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame for their accomplishments.

These six men will be honored at the 2013 USTFCCCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday, December 16, at the USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Fla. The full announcement from the USTFCCCA can be found here.

"I never expected it," said Dennis Craddock after he received word of the announcement, "I'm certainly shocked and pleased and surprised and excited, all those words that we can throw in there. When you start out in this profession as a young man or young woman you never dream of something like this happening to you. I just can't, I really can't put into words how much it means to me to be recognized by coaches and friends, people who supported me all these years."

"One things that has always been important to me, no matter who you are, whether you're a CEO or president of a major company or starting as a student-athlete, is that you never do it by yourself," Craddock added, "It always comes with help from other people. I'd certainly like to thank those people who helped me, coaches, assistant coaches, administrators, friends, and athletes - everyone who helped me in my 45 years as a coach. It's a real team effort. I'm very honored."

"I am extremely proud the USTFCCA has decided to induct Coach Craddock into the Hall of Fame," said head coach Harlis Meaders, who competed under Craddock 1989-92. "In addition to all of the accolades that Coach Craddock achieved in the profession he has served as a role model and a father figure to so many but especially to me. It is a tremendous honor to be honored by the association but beyond the honor, he is and will always be loved by Tar Heels across the globe."

With 44 years of coaching between the collegiate and high school levels, Craddock has amassed a legendary resume that includes two women's NCAA cross country team titles (1981, '82), a women's indoor NCAA team title (1982), and an unparalleled 45 ACC team titles via coaching tenures at Virginia and North Carolina.

His nine seasons at Virginia built the foundations for what would become an all-time great career, as his 1981 women's cross country team recorded an NCAA Championships-record winning score of just 36 points, with four finishers in the top 12 and seven All-America honorees. The 1982 squad again claimed the title, this time with 48 points - the second-lowest score in NCAA women's history - led by winner and ACC individual champion Lesley Welch and three other All-Americans. His men's teams also found success at the national level with a fifth place finish in 1984. A combined 16 women's and three men's cross country All-America honors were earned under his watch.

In between the two women's cross country titles came an indoor national title in 1982 that featured a staggering 17 All-America performances - a large portion of the 45 indoor All-America honors his women earned along with nine outdoor awards. The men claimed 14 total track & field All-America certificates.

Craddock's women's teams went on to win the first three ACC outdoor titles after the conference began to sponsor the sport in 1983. His men's outdoor teams finished runner-up twice during his tenure and no worse than fourth.

He made the move to Chapel Hill in 1986 to become the head coach of North Carolina for 27 years, where he mentored 25 individual Tar Heel student-athletes to a combined 38 individual NCAA titles and coached 19 Olympians who went on to claim five gold and two bronze medals.

Prior to Craddock's arrival at North Carolina, the Tar Heel women had not yet won an ACC title; Craddock changed that quickly and in a big way. His women's teams would go on to win 15 indoor ACC titles and 14 outdoor titles, while his men's teams won two indoor titles and four outdoor crowns. In the period between 1988 and 2004, Craddock's women's team claimed indoor titles in all but two seasons and took the outdoor title in all but three. Craddock was named the 1994 NCAA Coach of the Year for his successes with the women's and men's track and field programs at Carolina.

His women's teams swept the cross country, indoor and outdoor ACC titles in both 1994-95 and 2003-04, a feat not yet accomplished by any other women's program in conference history. The 1994-95 campaign was particularly special, as the women claimed all three ACC titles and the men swept the track & field championships.

His Carolina track & field teams were also successful at the national level, as the women finished top-10 14 times (9 indoor/5 outdoor) at the NCAA Championships and the men accomplished that feat six times (4 outdoor/2 indoor). The women finished fourth overall twice indoors, while the men finished as high as fourth outdoors in 1996.

He served as a head coach of the Gretna and Albemarle (Va.) High School track and field teams for eight years before entering the college ranks. His high school teams compiled a 117-8 dual meet record, claimed three state crowns, and produced four individual national champions. Craddock was named the Virginia High School Coach of the Year in 1975.

Carolina's 20 national individual titles coached under Craddock include: Allen Johnson (1992, 55-meter hurdles); Ken Harnden (1995, 400-meter hurdles); Milton Campbell, Harnden, Tony McCall and Henry McKoy (1995, 4x400); Monique Hennagan (1996, 400 meters and 800 meters); Eric Bishop (1996 and 1997, high jump); Shalane Flanagan (2002 and 2003, cross country; 2003, 3000 meters); Laura Gerraughty (2003, 2004 indoors and outdoors and 2006 shot put); Vikas Gowda (2006, discus); Justin Ryncavage (2006 and 2007, javelin); Brie Felnagle (2007, 1500 meters); and Felnagle, Tyra Johnson, Kaltenbach and Kloss (2007, distance medley relay).

Craddock is a 1965 graduate of Ferrum College, where he played football and was named captain and MVP of the track and field team. After two years at Ferrum, Craddock earned his bachelor's degree at Lynchburg College. He is also an inductee in the Ferrum College Sports and Lynchburg College Athletics Halls of Fame. Craddock was named Man of the Year in 1975 by the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce for his work in the community and with his church in honor of his commitments to the town and his family.

Craddock retired from UNC in June 2012, soon after being awarded the Priceless Gem as Carolina's top honor. He and his wife, Faye, have three children and six grandchildren. Faye also worked in the UNC athletic department before retiring.

Started in 1995, the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame exists to recognize coaches who have brought great distinction to themselves, to their institutions and to the sports of cross country & track & field. Each of the honorees exemplifies the qualities of dedication to the sport, leadership and passion for their profession that serve as an inspiration to coaches everywhere in the sport.

The full USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame and information on all of its past inductees can be found here.


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