The college career of one of Florida men’s track and field’s most decorated athletes has come to a close.
Omar Craddock, an All-American triple jumper for the Gators, finished his tenure at Florida with a bang last Saturday in Eugene, Ore., at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In his final jump as a Gator, Craddock, the South Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, jumped an all-conditions personal best distance of 16.92 meters.
Oddly enough, he had already clinched the event victory – his second consecutive at NCAA Outdoors – before he took the jump.
Craddock’s final jump was the spark that fueled Florida to its second consecutive outdoor title. After his jump, the Gators rallied to tie Texas A&M by earning 28 out of a possible 30 points.
“My plan was to defend my title and get the ‘A’ standard for Worlds this summer,” Craddock said. “I did one of those and there’s time for the other. I wanted to get 10 points for my team and I did that. I wanted my first jump to motivate Eddie (Lovett) and the relays, and I think I helped.”
In Craddock’s four years at UF, he has been on five national championship teams (three indoor, two outdoor), while winning three individual titles himself. All of his individual titles have come in the last two years.
In his final outdoor season, Craddock won all five events in which he competed, defending both his Southeastern Conference and NCAA titles from the previous outdoor season.
“He’s really grown as a person here,” coach Mike Holloway said. “If you talk to Omar, the most gratifying thing from him is that he’s always found a way to get it done when it counts. Even when Christian (Taylor) and Will (Claye) were here, he was always a presence. Now, those guys left, their shadow is gone, and it was Omar Craddock’s turn.”
More than his success on the track, Craddock’s savvy has been a boon for a very young team.
“He knows how to explain to the lower classmen what to expect from the program and how we operate here,” Holloway said. “He’s very passionate. In our team meetings, I let him talk to the team about how we do things here at Florida. That’s very helpful to me and the staff to have people come in and buy into what we do.”
Craddock’s last two NCAA titles bumped Florida’s winning streak up to seven in the men’s triple jump – a streak first set by former Gators Taylor and Claye. The impact they left on Craddock was significant.
“Being here at Florida has meant so much,” Craddock said. “I’m so grateful, fortunate and glad to have been granted the opportunity to be at Florida and train with some of the best jumpers in NCAA history like Christian, Will, and now, Marquis (Dendy). ... I’ll never forget the memories I’ve created, the teammates I’ve trained with and the chance to have been a part of history.”
Omar Craddock competes in the triple jump on the final day of the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.