Oregon Leads Crowded Women’s Race in Final NCAA Rankings
NEW ORLEANS — Next week’s NCAA championships are likely going to feature two tight team battles with hosts Oregon at the center of both. For the first time this season, the Duck women are No. 1 in the computer team rankings. The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released the rankings on Monday. Teams’ point totals in this final edition of the rankings were based on their qualifiers to next week’s NCAA finals in Eugene.
You can watch the women’s team and individual battles on Thursday–mostly prelims–and Saturday–two and a half glorious hours of straight finals–live on ESPN and ESPN2.
The Oregon women will have the most athletes competing at Hayward. Twenty-two Ducks made it out of the West Prelims, five more than qualified for No. 2 Arkansas, seven more than No. 4 Texas A&M, and six more than No. 5 Southern California. (Click here for a full breakdown of who qualified for the NCAA finals in what)
No. 3 Kentucky had the sixth most qualifiers, with thirteen. The Wildcats and Razorbacks stayed in those spots in the rankings for the second straight week, but the other three top-five teams made major moves after the results from Prelims.
No team made a more significant move than Oregon. Robert Johnson’s Duck women moved up from No. 4 to the top spot in the rankings thanks to significant personal bests in the sprints and field and Jenna Prandini safely making it through the first round. Prandini, showing obvious strength and health after missing the Pac-12 championships, has the nation’s second fastest qualifying time in the 100 and 200 and its fifth best long jump.
Prandini didn’t run a leg on their 4×100 meter relay; it’s safe to call that a potential area for Oregon to outscore its projections if she goes for the 1-2-LJ-4×1 quadruple next week.
Other top five-ranked performers for Oregon include Raevyn Rogers, Jasmine Todd, and Jillian Weir. Rogers set her personal best in the 800 two weeks ago, but Todd (100m) and Weir (hammer) timed their peaks perfectly with personal bests this weekend in Austin. Todd’s 10.89–amply aided by a 3.7 meter per second headwind–is the fastest all-conditions in-season women’s collegiate 100 meters in twenty-six years.
If Oregon were to win, it would be their first women’s outdoor team title since 1985.
Oregon’s 306.71-274.71 points advantage over Arkansas means that this championship is far from locked up. Since the USTFCCCA began releasing team rankings in 2008, the women’s team ranked No. 1 heading into nationals has won the title five out of seven years.
Those years were 2014 and 2011–both title years for Texas A&M. In 2011, Oregon had a more or less meaningless 1.12% lead over TAMU in the rankings and was outscored 49-45 at the actual meet. Last year, Texas had a solid 11.14% computer lead over the Aggies and lost 75-66 on the track.
This year, Arkansas’s thirty-two point deficit equates to a gap of about ten percent. Kentucky (twelve percent), Texas A&M (fourteen percent) and USC (sixteeen percent) are all within striking distance as well, before a larger gap to Florida and Georgia, both of which trail Oregon by more than twenty percent.
This is certainly going to be the most crowded podium battle in the Obama years. For the first time in rankings history–and these statistics refer to the pre-championship rankings–there are four teams within twenty percent of No. 1, and six teams within thirty percent of the top spot. Eight teams with greater than two hundred rankings points is the most in rankings history, and Oregon’s 306.71 is the second lowest among pre-championship leaders.
If Arkansas is going to replicate its dominance from indoor nationals, two previous national champions are going to lead the way. Dominique Scott has the fastest entrant time in the 10k (Emily Sisson and Kate Avery electing for 5k-only clears a serious path for Scott) and the fifth fastest in the 5k. And Sandi Morris has the collegiate record in the pole vault. Other Razorbacks ranked in the top five in their respective events include 400 meter runner Taylor Ellis-Watson, 800 stud Chrishuna Williams, and heptathlete Alex Gouchenour.
The two teams directly behind the Hogs in the rankings are SEC rivals that are gunning for a national title with a familiar SEC formula: sprints and field. Kentucky and Texas A&M each have a highly-ranked relay, a top-ranked hurdler, two projected scorers in the field, and multiple sprint qualifers. For Kentucky, Kendra Harrison will double in the 100 and 400 hurdles (and likely triple in the 4×4) and for Texas A&M, Shamier Little will double in the 400 hurdles and 4×4.
Pat Henry’s sprint crew is certainly on pace for their usual performance arc: all six of his sprint qualifiers set season bests at the West Prelims. This is a good time of year to remember that Henry has been the coach of about half of the women’s NCAA outdoor track & field champions, ever.
Southern Cal slid in the rankings from last week’s No. 1 perch, but they’ll still have an incredibly robust sprint crew in Eugene. If they are standing on or on top of the podium, it’ll be largely thanks to their thirteen qualifiers in events that are one lap or shorter. They’ll have four women in the 100 and two each in the 200, 400, and both hurdles plus top five-ranked quartets in both relays.
Teams looking to beat the projections and get one of the trophies awarded to the top four teams include No. 6 Florida, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Texas, and No. 10 Kansas State. All ten of those squads were ranked in the top ten heading into last weekend. And four teams joined the top twenty-five based on strong performances at the prelims: No. 18 Oklahoma, No. 21 Miami (Fl.), No. 22 Nebraska, and No. 24 Wisconsin.
See the full rankings below, and check the site all week for more coverage.
Women’s Indoor Track & Field National Team Computer Rankings (Top 25)
2015 Week #9 — June 1 (pre-finals)
|next ranking: FINAL, NCAA Championships results|
|Rank||Institution||Points||Conference||Head Coach (Yr)||Last Week|
|1||Oregon||306.71||Pac-12||Robert Johnson (3rd)||4|
|2||Arkansas||274.71||SEC||Lance Harter (25th)||2|
|3||Kentucky||267.80||SEC||Edrick Floreal (3rd)||3|
|4||Texas A&M||262.19||SEC||Pat Henry (11th)||9|
|5||Southern California||257.73||Pac-12||Caryl Smith Gilbert (2nd)||1|
|6||Florida||240.48||SEC||Mike Holloway (8th)||6|
|7||Georgia||232.60||SEC||Wayne Norton (16th)||5|
|8||LSU||204.57||SEC||Dennis Shaver (11th)||8|
|9||Texas||176.61||Big 12||Mario Sategna (2nd)||7|
|10||Kansas State||160.11||Big 12||Cliff Rovelto (23rd)||10|
|11||Mississippi State||145.48||SEC||Steve Dudley (5th)||15|
|12||Texas Tech||136.18||Big 12||Wes Kittley (16th)||11|
|13||Florida State||125.42||ACC||Bob Braman (12th)||20|
|14||Michigan State||116.85||Big Ten||Walt Drenth (9th)||13|
|15||Clemson||112.20||ACC||Mark Elliott (2nd)||18|
|16||Stanford||102.47||Pac-12||Chris Miltenberg (3rd)||14|
|17||Kansas||96.00||Big 12||Stanley Redwine (15th)||25|
|18||Oklahoma||88.77||Big 12||Jim VanHootegem (2nd)||28|
|19||Virginia Tech||86.95||ACC||Dave Cianelli (14th)||21|
|20||Baylor||82.87||Big 12||Todd Harbour (10th)||12|
|21||Miami (Fla.)||82.56||ACC||Amy Deem (25th)||33|
|22||Nebraska||80.31||Big Ten||Gary Pepin (35th)||34|
|23||Michigan||79.62||Big Ten||James Henry (30th)||17|
|24||Wisconsin||77.34||Big Ten||Mick Byrne (2nd)||29|
|25||Alabama||74.74||SEC||Dan Waters (4th)||19|
|dropped out: No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 19 Alabama, No. 22 North Carolina, No. 24 Oklahoma State|
|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||Michigan State||729.85||1|
|View All Regional Rankings|