Final Computer Rankings: Hosts Arkansas Women Favored For First-Ever Indoor Team Title
NEW ORLEANS – Astonishingly, the SEC – arguably the nation’s best conference in women’s NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field – has only won one indoor national team championship in the last nine years. Oregon has taken the last five, and Tennessee‘s win in 2009 was preceded by a trio of titles from Arizona State and Texas.
That pattern looks to come to an end at this weekend’s NCAA Division I Indoor Championships, March 13-14 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, as the SEC has the top four teams in the final computer rankings of the 2015 indoor season.
The rankings were compiled and released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday. Though very few national qualifiers competed last weekend and the qualifying window ended last weekend, these rankings differ from last week’s in that they only account for actual entries into the national meet.
Arkansas stayed at No. 1, trailed by conference rivals No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Kentucky, and No. 4 Georgia.
At No. 5, Texas is projected to be the first non-SEC team; the defending champion Oregon women are ranked sixth.
About that word "projected." These rankings are not a form chart projection of how many points each team will score at nationals. But the algorithm is a more holistic projection of the teams’ finishing order, taking into account not just where athletes are on the national list, but the likelihood of each athlete finishing in scoring territory.
It’s not foolproof – three of the last five women’s national champions were ranked No. 1 in the final pre-championship computations. For a full breakdown of the rankings process, click here.
Arkansas athletes will have the home track (and runway/ring/cage) advantage as the championships return to Fayetteville after a year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If Arkansas does deliver on its ranking and wins a national title, it would be a historic one. The Razorbacks have won twenty men’s indoor titles, but zero women’s.
The gap between the descending order lists and the declarations for nationals explains Florida and Kentucky each moving up one spot each at former No. 2 Georgia’s expense. Bulldog phenom Kendell Williams was tipped for serious points in the high jump and long jump, but only declared in the pentathlon.
Unlike in the men’s team battle, the teams vying for podium spots will be competing directly against each other in a zero-sum fight for points. Four of the top five teams–everybody except for Georgia–have athletes entered in the 400.
That’s where Texas could make up the most ground, and where the SEC teams will be boxing each other out for single-digit points. Courtney Okolo, Kendell Baisden, and Ashley Spencer of Texas are second, fourth, and eighth on the entry list, but Okolo and Spencer have won the last three NCAA outdoor 400s.
The field events–particularly the triple jump and pentathlon–will go an extremely long way towards determining the national champion.
In the triple jump, Georgia has national leader Keturah Orji, Florida has second-ranked Ciarra Brewer, Arkansas has third-ranked Tamara Myers, and Kentucky has eighth-ranked Sha’Keela Saunders.
The pentathlon features Williams (the national leader and record holder), three Arkansas athletes (No. 6 Alex Gochenour and Nos. T13 Leigha Brown and Taliyah Brooks) and Florida’s eighth-ranked Brittany Harrell.
In addition to the relative yeoman’s work of scratching out mid-pack points, each team with title hopes is going to rely on at least one superstar.
Razorback Dominique Scott, Gator Kyra Jefferson, Wildcat Kendra Harrison, Bulldogs Williams, Orji, and Leontia Kallenou, and the Longhorn 4×400 all have the best marks in their respective events and are favorites for national titles. Those events in which they’re ranked No. 1: Scott in the 3k, Jefferson in the 200, Harrison in the 60-meter hurdles, Williams in the pentathlon, Orji in the triple jump, and Kallenou in the high jump.
Elsewhere in the rankings, No. 23 Arizona State was the only team to join the top twenty-five. The Sun Devils’s seven-spot jump was the biggest rise in the women’s rankings.
Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Computer Rankings (Top 25)
2015 Week #7 — March 9 (pre-championships)
|next ranking: final, NCAA Championships, March 13-14|
|Rank||Institution||Points||Conference||Head Coach (Yr)||Last Week|
|1||Arkansas||180.89||SEC||Lance Harter (25th)||1|
|2||Florida||147.52||SEC||Mike Holloway (8th)||3|
|3||Kentucky||138.01||SEC||Edrick Floreal (3rd)||4|
|4||Georgia||137.37||SEC||Wayne Norton (16th)||2|
|5||Texas||129.08||Big 12||Mario Sategna (2nd)||5|
|6||Oregon||119.69||MPSF||Robert Johnson (3rd)||7|
|7||Texas A&M||94.79||SEC||Pat Henry (11th)||8|
|8||Kansas State||89.07||Big 12||Cliff Rovelto (23rd)||6|
|9||Baylor||78.95||Big 12||Todd Harbour (10th)||9|
|10||Southern California||71.46||MPSF||Caryl Smith Gilbert (2nd)||10|
|11||Michigan State||68.80||Big Ten||Walt Drenth (9th)||11|
|12||Mississippi State||62.42||SEC||Steve Dudley (5th)||12|
|13||Georgetown||54.18||Big East||Patrick Henner (8th)||13|
|14||Wisconsin||53.12||Big Ten||Mick Byrne (2nd)||14|
|15||LSU||50.22||SEC||Dennis Shaver (11th)||20|
|16||Clemson||48.11||ACC||Mark Elliott (2nd)||15|
|17||Providence||47.96||Big East||Ray Treacy (31st)||19|
|18||Akron||47.37||Mid-American||Dennis Mitchell (20th)||16|
|19||Missouri||46.74||SEC||Brett Halter (5th)||18|
|20||Southern Illinois||45.08||Missouri Valley||Connie Price-Smith (14th)||17|
|21||Florida State||38.67||ACC||Bob Braman (12th)||22|
|22||Texas Tech||37.52||Big 12||Wes Kittley (16th)||23|
|23||Arizona State||35.81||MPSF||Greg Kraft (19th)||30|
|24||Stanford||33.90||MPSF||Chris Miltenberg (3rd)||21|
|25||Notre Dame||33.78||ACC||Alan Turner (1st)||25|
|dropped out: No. 24 Iona|
|View All Teams Beyond the Top 25|
|Women’s Conference Index Top 10|
|Rank||Conference||Points||Top 25 Teams|
|Women’s Regional Index Leaders (FINAL)|
|Great Lakes||Ohio State||304.14|
|View All Regional Rankings|