USTFCCCA Mourns Passing Of Hall of Famer Dennis Craddock
CHAPEL HILL – Dennis Craddock, the University of North Carolina’s men’s and women’s head cross country and track and field coach for 27 years until his retirement in 2012, died Tuesday evening. A member of the United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame since 2013, Craddock would have turned 74 on Sept. 20.
Craddock’s teams at UNC and the University of Virginia won 45 ACC championships, more than any other coach in any sport in the history of the league.
Craddock coached 25 Tar Heels to 38 NCAA Championship performances and 19 Olympians who competed for numerous countries, winning five gold and two bronze medals. The Gretna, Va., native received numerous awards, including National Coach of the Year honors in 1995 for men’s indoor track and field and ACC Coach of the Year honors 31 times (26 times at Carolina and five at the University of Virginia).
In his 2013 induction speech for the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame, Craddock said: “There are seven wonders of the world: to be able to see, to be able to hear, to be able to touch, to be able to taste, to be able to feel, to be able to laugh, and to be able to love…but I would add an eighth one: to be able to coach.”
Craddock’s UNC teams won 29 ACC women’s track and field titles, six ACC men’s track and field titles, three ACC women’s cross country titles and one ACC men’s cross country title.
The Tar Heel women won the ACC indoor championship every year except two between 1988 and 2004 and the ACC outdoor crown in every year except three in that same span. The UNC women compiled 17 Top 10 finishes at NCAA Championship meets.
Carolina was the first school to win the ACC “Triple Crown” – first-place finishes in cross country, indoor and outdoor track in the same academic year. Under Craddock, the Tar Heel women accomplished that in 1994-95 and again in 2003-04. The 1995 squad featured future Olympic gold medalists LaTasha Colander and Monique Hennagan. National champions Flanagan and Laura Gerraughty, who also competed for the U.S. Olympic Team, led the 2004 team.
Craddock also led the Carolina men to success, including a 2006 season that saw Vikas Gowda and Justin Ryncavage claim NCAA outdoor titles in the discus and javelin, respectively. The 1995 men’s team posted an ACC indoor/outdoor sweep and became the first school to win five ACC team titles in a single year. That team featured Ken Harnden, the NCAA champion in the 400-meter hurdles and a two-time Olympian for Zimbabwe. Tony McCall, Henry McKoy, Milton Campbell and Harnden won the NCAA title that same year in the indoor 4×400.
Carolina’s national champions under Craddock included: Allen Johnson (1992, 55-meter hurdles); Ken Harnden (1995, 400-meter hurdles); Milton Campbell, Harnden, Tony McCall and Henry McKoy (1995, 4×400); Monique Hennagan (1996, 400 meters and 800 meters); Eric Bishop (1996 and 1997, high jump); Campbell, Curtis Johnson II, McCall and Marcus Stokes (1996, 4×100); Nicole Gamble (1999, triple jump); Alice Schmidt (2002 and 2003, 800 meters); Shalane Flanagan (2002 and 2003, cross country; 2003, 3000 meters); Adam Shunk (2003, high jump); Laura Gerraughty (2003, 2004 indoors and outdoors and 2006 shot put); Erin Donohue, Flanagan, Anissa Gainey and Schmidt (2003, distance medley relay); Sheena Gordon (2006, high jump); Brie Felnagle, Megan Kaltenbach, Georgia Kloss and Danielle Rodgers (2006, distance medley relay); Vikas Gowda (2006, discus); Justin Ryncavage (2006 and 2007, javelin); Felnagle (2007, 1500 meters); and Felnagle, Tyra Johnson, Kaltenbach and Kloss (2007, distance medley relay).
Craddock was the head coach at Virginia from 1976-85. His tenure in Charlottesville included back-to-back NCAA championships in women’s cross country in 1981 and 1982 and a women’s indoor national title in 1981. He also led the Cavalier women to consecutive ACC outdoor titles from 1983-85.
Craddock was 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 was inducted in the Ferrum College Sports and Lynchburg College Athletics Halls of Fame and was awarded a Priceless Gem by UNC.
Craddock is survived by his wife, Faye, who also worked in the UNC athletic department for many years; two daughters, Chris Bozart of Carolina Beach and Carla Roberts and her husband David of Bahama; their son, Blake Craddock and his wife, Bridget of Bullock; six grandchildren– Dillon Roberts and his wife, Kayla, Alison Bozart, Sydney Bozart, Emma Roberts, Caroline Craddock and Kailen Craddock; one great-grandson expected in December, Baby JD Roberts; one sister, Sandra Craddock of Gretna, Va.; and his buddy, “Buddy.”
He was preceded in death by one sister, Emma Johnson.
The family will receive friends from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Durham with a memorial service to follow at Ridgecrest at 3 p.m.