Top 10 All-Time Men - USA Athletics Scholarships

Top 10 All-Time Men

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Our top 10 British and Irish men have picked up a staggering 32 individual titles between them over all three disciplines. There were plenty of other NCAA champions who we discovered (22 in total), so it is safe to say it took a while to decide on the top 10.

10th – Chris Mulvaney (Arkansas – middle distance)

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The first of three Razorback men to make our top 10, Chris Mulvaney was a key member towards the final few teams that the legendary John McDonnell led to his 40 NCAA team titles. The Border Harrier was a two time NCAA champion  – firstly the outdoor 1500m in 2003 and then later adding the indoor mile a year later at his home track. Now a male model.

9th – Niall Bruton (Arkansas – middle distance)

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The Irishman won back to back indoor mile titles in 1993 and 1994, on both occasions helping his powerful Arkansas team to emphatic victories. This really was at the peak of the McDonnell glory years. Perhaps most impressive for Bruton was the versatility he showed as a miler to finish 3rd at the NCAA Cross Country in 1993. This was what gave him the edge to be included over our other two time mile champion Lee Emanuel.

8th – Chris O’Hare (Tulsa – middle distance)

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The most recent athlete on our list to graduate was the 2012 indoor mile champion. He is the only athlete in our top 10 not to have won multiple titles but add to his credentials a 2011 indoor mile runner up finish and a collegiate record of 3.52 in 2012, we found it impossible to leave him out. Since graduating O’Hare has made an excellent start to his professional career by winning a pair of bronze medals at the most recent editions of the European Outdoor and Indoor athletics championships.

7th – Mark Scrutton (Colorado – long distance)

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To win the NCAA XC in any year is a serious achievement. However, to win in it the early 80s when the restrictions on eligibility and ages were far less stringent than they are now made it all the more difficult. In 1982 Mark Scrutton was able to do this, narrowly defeating the 29 year old Tanzanian Zakariah Barie of UTEP by two seconds. The following winter Scrutton added to his title haul on the boards, by becoming indoor champion over 3000m.

6th – Robert Weir (SMU – throws)

The first non-runner to make our list is 1996 GB Olympian Robert Weir. Weir was a three time NCAA champion for SMU in the early 80s – twice in the indoor weight throw and once outdoors in the hammer. His weight throw best of 23.64 set during his collegiate years remains a British record to this day.

5th – Eamonn Coghlan (Villanova – middle distance)

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Commonly known as ‘The Chairman of the Boards’, due to his success in the Wanamaker mile, the Irishman had an highly successful collegiate career as well as his subsequent professional one. He achieved back to back indoor and outdoor mile doubles in 1975 and 1976, basically going unbeaten for four consecutive track championships. In 1975 he also broke the European mile record with an outdoor time of 3:53.

4th – Ron Delany (Villanova – middle distance)

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A close call between Delany and his fellow Villanova athlete, but the former just edges it. Whilst both are four time NCAA champions, Delany just edges it is because his titles were all won prior to the indoor event being created. He is one of only two British or Irish athletes ever to win the same event three years consecutively, a feat he achieved between 1956-8 with the outdoor mile. His fourth title came in his final year where he was able to complete the middle distance double by winning the 800m. Who knows how many titles we would be talking about if indoors were held back then?  He won the 1956 Olympic Games 1500m under the tutelage of iconic Nova coach Jumbo Elliott. We haven’t considered this non-NCAA win, otherwise he would be a clear number 1.

3th – Nick Rose (Western Kentucky – long distance)

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Not only a Western Kentucky legend, but also a British distance running legend who still holds the national 10k record of 27:34. The Bristolian was a three time NCAA champion, with his most famous win being the 1974 XC. Either sides of this win he was runner up in 1973 where he narrowly lost out in an epic duel against Steve Prefontaine and also in 1975 to future world cross winner Craig Virgin. Rose demonstrated his versatility by also winning consecutive indoor titles over 3000m in 1975 and 1976.  (We also previously did a feature with Nick Rose, which can be viewed here).

2th –  Keith Connor (UTEP / SMU – triple jump)

The highest placed field eventer on our list and second SMU athlete to make the top 10. Keith Connor dominated the NCAA triple jump scene between 1981-1983 by winning two titles indoors and two titles outdoors. His leap at the 1982 championships of 17.57m was a British record at the time and amazingly remains an NCAA meet record to this very day. Connor went on to win an Olympic bronze medal in the ’84 Los Angeles games but was unfortunately forced to retire shortly after due to injury.

1st – Alistair Cragg (SMU / Arkansas – long distance)

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A small number of British and Irish athletes have won three or four NCAA titles. None have won five. None have won six. However, one man has won seven which leads us to naming Alistair Cragg as the greatest ever British or Irish male athlete to grace the NCAA. Originally at SMU, Cragg transferred to Arkansas in 2002 and immediately became an integral part of the John McDonnell title winning machine. Cragg won all 5 of his indoor titles on his home track in Fayetteville, and also won outdoors over 5000m and 10000m in 2003 and 2004. Whilst he never won the cross country meet, he came very close in 2002 where he finished 2nd to Jorge Torres. The Irishman also won numerous SEC titles and remains the NCAA record holder over 3000m with his time of 7:38 set in 2004.

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What do you think then? Do you think we have it right or have we missed someone? Comment below.

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