Former Illini standout Craig Virgin was elected into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Nov. 1, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Former University of Illinois men's track and field distance standout Craig Virgin was elected to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame, USA Track & Field announced on Tuesday. Virgin was selected to join the elite last year, but deferred his induction until 2011. The USATF also announced five other inductees for the Class of 2011, including all-time track and field greats Gail Devers, Maurice Greene, Vince Matthews and Clarence Demar along with standout coach Bob Timmons.
Virgin did not start competitive running until his freshman year at Lebanon High School. He won five Illinois state high school championships in cross country as well as the 2-mile and 1-mile track events in the old single class school classification. He still holds the Illinois state championships meet records in both the 3-mile cross country (13:50.6) and 2-mile track (8:42.6) events. He won his final 48 high school cross country races; setting course records in 47 of the 48 events. In June of 1973 Virgin broke the late Steve Prefontaine's national high school 2-mile record with a clocking of 8:40.9, a time that still ranks as second-fastest time ever turned in by a prep in an all-high school competition.
At the University of Illinois, Virgin was the 1975 NCAA cross country champion, a 10-time All-American between track and cross country, a nine-time Big Ten champion and the first man to win four consecutive Big Ten cross country titles. Virgin, who is the only U.S. male athlete ever to win an individual World Cross Country Championships title (1980 & 1981), make three Olympic teams at 10,000m and set seven U.S. national records in road and track events.
Virgin, a native of Lebanon, Ill., is founder and President of Front Runner, Inc., a sports marketing and promotions company. He is also a member of the National Distance Running Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2011 will be inducted Saturday evening, December 3 at the Jesse Owens Hall of Fame Banquet, held in conjunction with USATF's 2011 Annual Meeting in St. Louis.