Florida Men Projected as Preseason Favorites in NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field
NEW ORLEANS – The most consistently excellent men’s indoor track & field program of this decade with three national titles and another runner-up finish to its credit, Florida is once again poised to add to that resume.
But it’ll have a fight on its hands from each of the past two national team champions to reclaim the throne it occupied from 2010 through 2012.
The Gators are narrow preseason favorites in the National Team Computer Rankings released Tuesday afternoon by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) over defending national champion No. 2 Oregon and 2013 national champion No. 3 Arkansas.
The Gators, preseason favorites for the third time in the past five years, checked in with 176.01 points in the National Team Computer Rankings, just ahead of Oregon with 172.98 and Arkansas with 151.99.
The full breakdown of how each team arrived at those scores, based on the top marks by returning athletes from 2014 (or past seasons for redshirts) can be found here. Event-by-event breakdowns can be found here.
Meanwhile, the five-time defending champion Oregon women will begin their title defense at No. 3. Which team took over at No. 1? The full women’s preseason rankings can be found here.
The national team rankings are complied by mathematical formulae based on national descending order lists. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race. Rankings points do not equate with NCAA Championships team points. A full description of the rankings can be found here.
Preseason rankings will include marks from 2014, and the National Team Computer Rankings will continue to do so through the third regular-season edition.
The USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings should not be referred to as a “poll” as no voting occurs during the process.
Sprints, relays and jumps will be the key to success in Gainesville this season for the top-ranked Gator men. Reigning outdoor national 200-meter champion Dedric Dukes is the top-ranked man in his signature event, heading a corps of five sprinters who account for six top-10 event ranks. Arman Hall, Hugh Graham, Jr., and Najee Glass are ranked No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 at 400-meters, respectively, and combine with Dukes for the No. 2 4×400 relay team.
Also a significant factor for the Gators will be jumper Marquis Dendy, who is the defending outdoor long jump and triple jump national champion. Based on 2014 indoor marks, he is No. 3 on the preseason long jump list and unranked in the triple jump.
Andres Arroyo and Ryan Schullne are also ranked No. 8 and 9 at 800 meters, respectively.
Joining that group is the eight-best recruiting class in the nation, per Track & Field News.
How have top-ranked teams fared since the inception of the National Team Computer Rankings in 2008? It’s a mixed bag, as you can tell from the table below.
What the sprints, relays and jumps are to Florida, the distance events are to Oregon. The Ducks will once again be led by defending 3000- and 5000-meter national champion sophomore Edward Cheserek, who raced to 20 of Oregon’s 62 team points at NCAAs a year ago.
The returning Bowerman Finalist leads a very formidable distance crew that will be bolstered by the indoor debut of cross country runner-up Eric Jenkins and transfers Will Geoghegan and John Gregorek. The latter duo finished fifth and sixth in the NCAA mile in 2014. Also returning is 5000-meter fourth-placer Parker Stinson.
If that wasn’t enough, the Ducks brought in a recruiting class that Track & Field News ranked No. 2 in the country.
In at No. 3 is another team looking to reclaim its spot atop the Division I indoor track & field mountain: 2013 national champion Arkansas. Defending 60-meter hurdles champion Omar McLeod and defending indoor long jump champ Jarrion Lawson are both back from last year’s national runner-up squad, as is two-time indoor pole vault national champ Andrew Irwin. Much will also be expected of a pair of sixth-ranked athletes in half-miler Patrick Rono and triple jumper Clive Pullen.
The Razorback recruiting class for this season was ranked seventh in the country by Track & Field News.
Reigning The Bowerman Trophy winner Deon Lendore is back for No. 4 Texas A&M, which will look to rebound from a disappointing eighth-place finish at NCAAs a year ago. Ranked No. 1 as the defending 400-meter champ, Lendore is among a trio of sprinters ranked in the top 10 in their events. At 200 meters, Shavez Hart is No. 3, Lendore is No. 4 and Devin Jenkins is No. 9. Jenkins is also No. 5 at 60 meters.
Behind a healthy Robby Creese, No. 5 Penn State is projected significantly higher than its national 32nd-place finish in 2014. Creese is ranked third in the mile, Brannon Kidder is No. 2 at 800 meters and Za’Von Watkins is No. 10 at 800 meters. The three will likely unite to reprise the top-ranked Distance Medley Relay squad from 2014.
Bolstered by the return of top-ranked high jumper James White, Nebraska checked in at No. 6. Stanford‘s distance crew boosted it to No. 7, Texas came in at No. 8, Texas Tech registered No. 9, and LSU rounded out the top 10.
Nebraska is up 11 from its 17th-place finish from 2014, while Texas improved 12 and Texas Tech was up 21.
Upward movement was a significant theme in the preseason rankings, as no fewer than nine teams achieved program-best ranks (rankings began in 2008): No. 5 Penn State, No. 11 Georgia, No. 14 Purdue, No. 16 Kennesaw State, No. 17 Akron, No. 18 Houston, No. 19 Iowa State, No. 21 Kent State, and No. 25 TCU.
The SEC and Big Ten both put six teams in the top 25, though the SEC put all six in the top 13, while four of the Big Ten’s checked in between 14th and 25th.
The full men’s top 25 can be found below.
Men’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Computer Rankings (Top 25)
2015 Preseason — January 6
|next ranking: January 26|
|Rank||School||Points||Conference||Head Coach (Yr)||2014 FINAL|
|1||Florida||176.01||SEC||Mike Holloway (13th)||3|
|2||Oregon||172.98||MPSF||Robert Johnson (3rd)||1|
|3||Arkansas||151.99||SEC||Chris Bucknam (7th)||2|
|4||Texas A&M||98.11||SEC||Pat Henry (11th)||8|
|5||Penn State||86.97||Big Ten||John Gondak (1st)||32|
|6||Nebraska||75.64||Big Ten||Gary Pepin (32nd)||17|
|7||Stanford||71.73||MPSF||Chris Miltenberg (3rd)||12|
|8||Texas||69.24||Big 12||Mario Sategna (2nd)||20|
|9||Texas Tech||64.17||Big 12||Wes Kittley (16th)||30|
|10||LSU||61.14||SEC||Dennis Shaver (11th)||8|
|11||Georgia||56.36||SEC||Wayne Norton (16th)||26|
|12||Villanova||55.42||Big East||Marcus O’Sullivan (15th)||32|
|13||Alabama||54.28||SEC||Dan Waters (4th)||6|
|14||Purdue||49.22||Big Ten||Rolando Greene (3rd)||32|
|15||Wisconsin||49.05||Big Ten||Mick Byrne (2nd)||11|
|16||Kennesaw State||46.39||Atlantic Sun||Andy Eggerth (5th)||NR|
|17||Akron||44.05||Mid-American||Dennis Mitchell (20th)||16|
|18||Houston||44.03||American||Leroy Burrell (17th)||52|
|19||Iowa State||42.71||Big 12||Martin Smith (2nd)||26|
|20||Florida State||40.18||ACC||Bob Braman (12th)||4|
|21||Kent State||37.30||Mid-American||Bill Lawson (10th)||45|
|22||Michigan State||36.15||Big Ten||Walt Drenth (9th)||40|
|23||UCLA||31.71||MPSF||Mike Maynard (6th)||64|
|24||Ohio State||31.66||Big Ten||Karen Dennis (1st)||56|
|25||TCU||31.50||Big 12||Darryl Anderson (11th)||NR|
|View All Teams Beyond the Top 25|
|Men’s Conference Index Top 10|
|Rank||Conference||Points||Top 25 Teams|