Women’s Indoor T&F Preseason Computer Rankings: SEC Takes Over From Oregon
NEW ORLEANS—The preseason edition of the NCAA Division I National Team Computer Rankings is in, and there’s a major shift at the top of the women’s pecking order.
Florida is ranked No. 1, Texas A&M No. 2, and Oregon, the winners of the last five indoor track & field national championships, comes in at No. 3. The rankings were released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday afternoon.
With the Ducks dominating the last half-decade, there hasn’t been a national team champion from the SEC since Tennessee in 2009. SEC teams have won 17 of the 32 Division I indoor women’s team titles.
Florida also topped the men’s preseason National Team Computer Rankings.
A Closer Look At The Teams
You can get the full breakdown on where every team (including yours!) gets every hundredth of a point in this massive and mesmerizing PDF. In this section, we’re just going to look at the top five teams and their individual athletes that are currently scored in the top eight in their respective events.
Teams are also rewarded in the algorithm for having athletes that rank outside of the top eight, but could realistically score at NCAAs. More on that later.
In the meantime, here’s an overview of the points system.
1. Florida, 196.37 points
Last three indoor NCAA finishes: t3, 13, 9
Projected scorers: Shayla Sanders, 4th 60m; Kyra Jefferson, 3rd 200; Robin Reynolds, 4th 400/4th long jump, Bridgette Owens, 7th 60H; Taylor Burke 3rd high jump; Ciarra Brewer, 1st triple jump; Jayla Bostic, 7th weight throw; Brittany Harrell, 3rd pentathlon.
Florida’s sprinters (defined here as flat events 60m-400m) are awesome, but they’re not projected to be the most dominant group of fast-twitchers in the country. Texas A&M’s sprinters contribute 113.16 points to their ranking, and Texas’s contribute 85.45; at 85.15, the Gators trail both of those schools.
What puts Mike “Mouse” Holloway’s squad into the top spot is their combination of excellent sprinting and truly outstanding field events. Georgia is stronger in the field, and the Texas schools are better in the sprints, but no one combines the two event groups like Florida does.
In addition to four potential All-Americans in the sprints (Shayla Sanders, Kyra Jefferson, Destinee Gause, and Robin Reynolds), the Gators are projected to have three women place in the top three in field events. In the triple jump, Ciarra Brewer was third indoors in 2013 and third outdoors in 2014. Her 13.59m (44-7) mark makes her the top returner in the NCAA. And pentathlete Brittany Harrell sits third on the form chart in that event.
Reynolds’s ability to double in the long jump and 400 calls to mind a Florida alum: Christian Taylor. Doubling in sprints and jumps is rare enough; doubling in the 400 and a jump is essentially being excellent at two completely different things.
That’s Florida—excellent in two different event groups—and that’s why the algorithm has them at No. 1 right now.
2. Texas A&M, 170.73 points
Last three indoor NCAA finishes: 5, 12, 6
Projected scorers: Jennifer Madu, t6th 60; Olivia Ekpone, t6th 60/5th 200; Kamaria Brown, 1st 200/1st 400, Ashton Purvis, 6th 200; Shamier Little, 5th 400, LaQue Moen-Davis, 3rd triple jump; Brea Garrett, 1st weight throw; Jena Hemman, 7th pentathlon.
The Texas A&M women are better at sprinting than anyone else in the nation is at anything. Between the 60, 200, 400, and 4×4, the Aggies get 113.16 points from the formula.
Pat Henry having the one of the very best women’s sprint groups in the country defies metaphor. It’s like the sun rising, except for that one day, the sun won’t rise. Since Henry took over as the LSU head coach in 1988, his women’s teams there and at Texas A&M have won 17 of the 27 4×100 outdoor championships.
This particular Aggies team is ranked second due to those sprinters—Jennifer Madu, Olivia Ekpone, Kamaria Brown, Ashton Purvis, and Shamier Little—plus three stars in the field. LaQue Moen-Davis has the #3 mark in the triple jump, Brea Garrett is the defending national champ in the weight throw, and Jena Hemann is tipped for seventh in the pent.
3. Oregon, 140.45 points
Last three indoor NCAA finishes: 1, 1, 1 (also won in 2010 and 2011)
Projected scorers: Jasmine Todd, 3rd 60/1st long jump; Jenna Prandini, 5th 60; Sasha Wallace 4th 60H
Perhaps no one was hit harder by graduation than the Ducks were. Oregon loses Bowerman Award winner Laura Roesler and American 400-meter record holder Phyllis Francis. They hold on to the No. 3 spot on the strength of versatile stars Jasmine Todd and Jenna Prandini, a slew of distance runners who are slotted just outside of the top eight in their events, and great 2014 relay marks. A huge part of retaining a ranking this high will be their times in the DMR and 4×400.
4. Georgia, 131.71 points
Last three indoor NCAA finishes: t3, 10, 28
Projected scorers: Carly Hamilton, 6th mile; Leontia Kallenou, 1st high jump; Kendell Williams, 2nd high jump/8th long jump/1st pentathlon; Morgann Leleux, 6th pole vault; Chanice Porter; 2nd long jump.
If Kendell Williams were her own team, the algorithm would have her ranked 13th in the country. As it is, she’s on Georgia’s team, which surrounds the decorated sophomore with other field event stars that could put the Bulldogs on the podium. Cypriot Leontia Kallenou won the indoor and outdoor high jump last year, Chanice Porter has the #2 returning LJ mark, and Morgann Leleux is sitting at #6 in the PV.
The scary thing about Williams is that the rankings (based mostly on last year’s indoor times) only have her sitting 12th in the 60 hurdles. She is the world junior champion in the 100 meter hurdles.
5. Texas, 113.93 points
Last three NCAA indoor finishes: 2, 18, 4
Projected scorers: Morolake Akinosun, 6th 60; Ashley Spencer, 2nd 400; Courtney Okolo, 3rd 400; Kendall Baisden, 7th 400; Kaitlin Petrillose, 1st pole vault.
With 48.64 points, Texas gets more from the 400 than any other top ten team gets from any event. (Trailing them? TAMU with 47.87 in the 200, Providence with 46.82 in the 5000, and Georgia with 44.18 in the high jump.) Ashley Spencer and Courtney Okolo have combined to win the last three NCAA outdoor 400 titles, and Spencer plus Kendall Baisden have won the last two World Junior outdoor 400 titles. The only question mark for the Longhorns is if their outdoor success will translate to the hydraulic banks in Fayetteville.
Between the 400, 4×400, and pole vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose, they could take down three NCAA records in a single meet and still finish fifth. Division I track & field is pretty tough.
A Note on the Rankings
You might ask: why go to all this BCS-esque trouble when you can rely on the time-honored tradition of scoring out the meet places 1-8 and assign points to those places? Simply put: that method is inadequate. The algorithm we use (and it is a computer algorithm—not a poll), which was developed by Tom Lewis and can be found here, takes into account several things that a form chart cannot.
The two biggest deviations from the form chart are a bonus for separation from the field and points for athletes ranked outside of the top eight. Sure, you don’t get extra points for beating the field by twenty seconds. But having a mark that’s twenty seconds better than the rest of the nation does mean that you’re much more likely to win that event than someone who’s ranked #1 by a tenth of a second.
And again, sure, you don’t get any points for finishing outside of the top eight. But athletes ranked outside of the top eight score all the time. The algorithm reflects that reality and awards small amounts of points to athletes ranked from 9-35 in their events.
No, the points don’t equate to how many points a team would score at the NCAA championships. But we think that you’ll find that it predicts the order of the teams much more accurately than any form chart could.
Women’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||196.37||SEC||Mike Holloway (8th)||3|
|2||Texas A&M||170.73||SEC||Pat Henry (11th)||5|
|3||Oregon||140.45||MPSF||Robert Johnson (3rd)||1|
|4||Georgia||131.71||SEC||Wayne Norton (16th)||3|
|5||Texas||113.93||Big 12||Mario Sategna (2nd)||2|
|6||Kentucky||104.09||SEC||Edrick Floreal (3rd)||9|
|7||Arkansas||96.31||SEC||Lance Harter (25th)||6|
|8||Providence||87.12||Big East||Ray Treacy (31st)||55|
|9||Florida State||68.25||ACC||Bob Braman (12th)||39|
|10||Georgetown||68.21||Big East||Patrick Henner (8th)||16|
|11||Stanford||66.67||MPSF||Chris Miltenberg (3rd)||7|
|12||Kansas State||62.01||Big 12||Cliff Rovelto (23rd)||NR|
|13||Oklahoma State||51.33||Big 12||Dave Smith (6th)||15|
|14||Maryland||50.63||Big Ten||Andrew Valmon (12th)||54|
|15||Michigan||48.94||Big Ten||James Henry (30th)||33|
|16||UCLA||47.58||MPSF||Mike Maynard (3rd)||29|
|17||Texas Tech||46.69||Big 12||Wes Kittley (16th)||NR|
|18||Auburn||44.09||SEC||Ralph Spry (18th)||12|
|19||Michigan State||39.69||Big Ten||Walt Drenth (9th)||35|
|20||Mississippi State||39.41||SEC||Steve Dudley (5th)||10|
|21||Clemson||39.27||ACC||Mark Elliott (2nd)||45|
|22||Wisconsin||38.76||Big Ten||Mick Byrne (2nd)||43|
|23||Southern Illinois||37.29||Missouri Valley||Connie Price-Smith (14th)||NR|
|24||Missouri||37.11||SEC||Brett Halter (5th)||16|
|25||North Carolina||35.39||ACC||Harlis Meaders (3rd)||NR|
|Dropped out: No. 25 Michigan|
|View All Teams Beyond the Top 25|
|Women’s Conference Index Top 10|
|Rank||Conference||Points||Top 25 Teams|