2018 NCAA DI Men’s Outdoor Track & Field National Rankings – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – The road to the NCAA Division I Men’s Outdoor Track & Field team title goes through Eugene, Oregon – in more ways than one.
Not only are the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships being held at Historic Hayward Field once again, the Preseason National Team Rankings predict the hometown team to stand atop the podium following the conclusion of the meet.
Oregon is ranked No. 1 in the first index of the 2018 season – but not by much. The Ducks tallied 197.97 points, just 0.22 more than second-ranked Texas A&M (197.75) and 1.43 more than third-ranked Houston (196.54). This is the slimmest margin between the top-3 teams in the history of the National Team Rankings for outdoor track & field.
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If Oregon wins the national title – its first outdoor crown since 2015 – it would have done it thanks to its depth in the 1500 and two sprinters. The Ducks have four men who are ranked in the top-10 of the 1500 using preseason data: James West, Matthew Maton, Sam Prakel and Blake Haney. Combine that quartet with the possibility of Damarcus Simpson and Cravon Gillespie scoring big in the 100 and 200, respectively, and that means Oregon could be a difficult match for any team in the nation.
The Aggies, who were also ranked second in three other preseason lists (2010, 2011 and 2016) will look to diversify their point total across four event areas. Texas A&M has the top-ranked javelin thrower according to preseason data (John Kyriazis), the second-ranked 800-meter contender (Devin Dixon), the second-ranked pole vaulter (Audie Wyatt), the third-ranked long jumper (Will Williams) and the fifth-ranked 400-meter hurdler (Robert Grant).
There is a trio of top-ranked athletes for the Cougars as they’re paced by Cameron Burrell and Elijah Hall in the 100 and 200, respectively, and Brian Barraza in the steeplechase. Burrell clocked a time of 9.93 in the 100 last year and Hall will likely use a standout indoor season – which saw him win NCAA titles in the 60 and 200 – as a springboard. This is the best ranking in program history for Houston.
Two-time defending national champion Florida comes in at No. 4, the first time it has been ranked outside of the top-3 in the preseason since 2009. The Gators have a number of athletes who are ranked in the top-5, including KeAndre Bates and Grant Holloway, who scored in multiple events last year to guide their team to yet another national title.
Georgia rounds out the top-5 as the third team from the Southeastern Conference in the mix. This is the Bulldogs’ best preseason ranking in program history and they’ll toward Denzel Comententia (shot put, hammer), Keenon Laine (high jump) and Karl Saluri (decathlon) for big points in their respective events.
Alabama comes in at No. 6, followed by No. 7 Southern California, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 10 Kansas. It has been a steady climb for the Huskers, who posted their best ranking since the 2013 season.
Be sure to check back throughout the season as we’ll see these rankings evolve ahead of NCAAs, which are set to take place June 6-9 at Historic Hayward Field.