Florida Men, Texas A&M Women Are Tops of the Preseason National Team Rankings
By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA
April 1, 2010
NEW ORLEANS – As spring has sprung around the country, so too has the collegiate outdoor track & field season. Yesterday the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released preseason national team rankings for Division I. Atop the early leaderboard is Florida’s men and Texas A&M’s women. Florida won the NCAA Indoor Championship in mid-March and the Aggie women are the defending NCAA outdoor champions.
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The first regular release of updated national team rankings for NCAA’s Division I will start on Tuesday, April 5, with updates occurring the following nine Tuesdays leading to the NCAA Championships finals, June 9-12. Along with the new season is a new NCAA Championship structure for Division I Outdoor Track & Field. More information on the changes appears below.
MEN: Florida Keeps Gator Train Rolling
With the data tabulated, the No. 1 Florida Gators (371.37) have some of the essential ingredients to pull off the NCAA indoor-outdoor team championship double. Coming off their first NCAA indoor team crown achieved a few weeks ago, the Gator men have the moniker of being the top-ranked outdoor team in the nation thanks to their bevy of returning talent. Florida is flanked in several disciplines, including the sprinting talent of Jeremy Hall, Terrell Wilks, Jeff Demps, Tony McQuay and Calvin Smith. Sophomores William Wynne and Christian Taylor are among the nation’s elite in the 400-meter hurdles and horizontal jumps, respectively, while junior Kermal Mesic is a 64-foot shot putter. In addition, Carlos Phillips, the Gator half-miler, and javelin hurler Adam Montague return after redshirt seasons.
Defending outdoor champions Texas A&M (347.88) has the number two by their team name, but also bring a lot to the table in the order of sprints and jumps. In the sprint/hurdle arena, Gerald Phiri, Tabarie Henry, Bryan Miller, Demetrius Pinder, Curtis Mitchell, and De’Lon Isom will be among the headline grabbers. Depth in the jumps pulled the Aggies to their first NCAA title last season and much of that talent returns with Julian Reid, Tyron Stewart, Zuheir Sharif, and Melvin Echard among those in the mix. In addition, freshman Sam Humphreys has already posted a 246-foot performance in the javelin this season to rank among the nation’s top five when mixing returning marks to current marks.
No. 3 Oregon (258.41) will also prove to be a formidable squad, returning defending outdoor 800-meter champ Andrew Wheating, 1500-meter speedster Matthew Centrowitz who clocked 3:36.92 in his freshman campaign, and primo javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler who claimed a 272-10 (83.16m) toss last season, among others. The Ducks also have the talents of Ashton Eaton returning. Eaton, the two-time defending NCAA champ in the decathlon, will go for more plaudits and records this outdoor season to go with a world-record heptathlon effort in winning the NCAA heptathlon crown during the indoor season.
No. 4 Florida State (226.14) has Charles Clark, the defending 200-meter champ, on the ready and two-time defending long jump champ Ngonidzashe Makusha among their talents. No. 5 Texas Tech lands in the top five thanks to some key transfers. The remainder of the top 10 contains No. 6 Southern California, No. 7 Auburn, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Arizona State, and No. 10 Nebraska.
In total, the SEC leads all conferences with eight squads represented in the national top 25 while the Pac-10 notched six teams to start the season. The Big 12 has five in the preseason mix.
WOMEN: Texas A&M Eyes Title Defense
The Aggies of Texas A&M (347.28) have the first stake atop the outdoor national team rankings, continuing right where they left off. Texas A&M won their first NCAA outdoor title last season and return much of that same sprinting and hurdling core that helped bring home the title over Oregon. Among the sprint group is Porscha Lucas, the defending 200-meter champ, Gabby Mayo, Jeneba Tarmoh, Jessica Beard, Dominique Duncan, Vashti Thomas, and Natahsha Ruddock. In addition, the Aggies return three of the four legs – Lucas, Duncan, and Mayo – that ran to a 42.36 collegiate-record 4×100-meter relay at last year’s NCAA Championships.
No. 2 Oregon (273.57), the NCAA indoor champs this season, have strengths in the sprints, jumps, and distance events. Defending heptathlon champ Brianne Theisen is once again among the conversation while distance runners Nicole Blood, Mattie Bridgemon, and Zoe Buckman are squad leaders as well. Buckman posted a collegiate-leading 4:12.80, 1500-meter time already this season while freshman Jordan Hasay clocked 4:14.67 in the same event last weekend at Stanford. Sprinters Amber Purvis and Keshia Baker along with jumper Jamesha Youngblood and pole vaulter Melissa Gergel were crucial in the Ducks’ national indoor title run and will prove vital for Oregon in the outdoor campaign.
LSU (266.69) at No. 3 has returned sprinters Samantha Henry and Kenyanna Wilson, 800-meter specialist LaTavia Thomas, high jumper Brittani Carter, and pole vaulter Rachel Laurent among others. No. 4 Florida (186.92) has the talents of shot putter Mariam Kevkhishvili, jumper Shara Proctor, and distance runners Charlotte Browning and Rebecca Lowe among those to watch. No. 5 Florida State rounds out the top five while No. 6 Baylor, No. 7 Southern California, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 9 Virginia Tech, and No. 10 BYU comprise the top 10.
In terms of top conferences, the SEC places six in the preseason national top 25 while the Pac-10 and Big 12 spread five of their members in the mix. The ACC claims four in the top 25.
About the 2010 NCAA Championship Structure
For the first time since 2003, the NCAA has changed the structure and format of the outdoor national championships for Division I. Previously, qualification for the NCAA’s post-season included achieving a qualifying mark and placement in regional*. Among the four NCAA regionals, placement in that event along with placement on the national-descending order list would qualify an individual* or relay for the NCAA Championships.
This year, instead of a hard-line performance standard to achieve for qualification, there will be an absolute, field-size cut-off per event. In addition, the national championship will officially begin on May 27 in Austin, Texas, and Greensboro N.C., the West and East preliminary-round sites, respectively, and will be the start of one continuous meet, held in three locations over two separate weekends and concluding in Eugene, Ore., on June 9-12. Teams’ placement in either of the two preliminary-site areas is predetermined and is based on the state in which the institution is housed.
The top 48* individuals that declare in each event in each of the two preliminary-site areas will compete in the preliminary round in either Austin or Greensboro, i.e. the Austin “48” or Greensboro “48”. In addition, the top 24 relays – that declare – in each of the preliminary-site areas will start in Austin or Greensboro. Ultimately, 12 individuals in each event and 12 relays in each event from each preliminary-site area will advance to the NCAA Championship final site in Eugene to form the final Eugene “24” (for lack of a better term) in each event. In Eugene, some events will still have a national semifinal before the national final. Some events, such as distance and field events, will have one round contested in Eugene. Team scores will only be assigned in the national final in each of the events.
* Except for combined events (decathlon/heptathlon). In the 2010 structure, the top 24 athletes that declare for each event will compete at the NCAA Championship final site in Eugene.
About the Rankings
Rankings for the preseason release derive mostly from data accumulated in the previous outdoor season and include marks from athletes eligible for their teams for the 2010 outdoor campaign. Other information was reported to and compiled by the USTFCCCA, including transfers and returning athletes that “redshirted” the previous year. Marks achieved during the earlier portion of the 2010 outdoor season, which began on March 1, are also considered. Preseason performances are phased out while newer performances are phased in to provide a balanced account of where teams are standing at any point in the season as some teams may start their seasons rapidly with some event groups while others do not.
Mathematical formulae are used to compile a team’s ranking based on an athlete’s or relay’s standing in relation to others in the same event across the country. A team’s score is a reflection of its “cumulative” chances as it relates ultimately to the NCAA Championships.
Despite the change in the NCAA Championship format for the 2010 season, the structure of the national team ranking system went nearly unchanged. The only new caveat is that the “doubler” rule, the stipulation that subjects those with marks in multiple track events to a point deduction, will also now apply to those with marks in the 5000- and 10,000-meter events. Currently, only those with marks in both the 100- and 200-meter events and/or a combination of either of the previous with the 100/110-meter hurdles are clear of a deduction. The “doubler” rule is in place to provide a more accurate picture of what participation in the NCAA Championships is the most practicial.
In the 2009 indoor and outdoor seasons, the preseason rankings identified three of four eventual champions (Oregon men-indoor, Texas A&M women-outdoor, Texas A&M men-outdoor). Of those placed in the top five during the preseason, 75% went on to finish in the top 8 and 85% went on to finish in the top 10 at nationals. Of those ranked in the top 10 during the preseason, 70% finished in the top 10, 83% in the top 15, and 90% in the top 20.
For more on the rankings and links to guideline and rationale information visit …
NCAA Division I
Men’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Rankings
2010 Preseason – March 31
Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Rankings
2010 Preseason – March 31