2019 NCAA DI Men’s Indoor Track & Field Rating Index – Preseason
NEW ORLEANS – Texas Tech picked up right where it left off at the end of the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field regular season to begin the 2019 campaign.
The Red Raiders, bolstered by a strong influx of transfers, headline the preseason edition of the NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor Track & Field National Rating Index that was released Thursday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
This is the fifth time in program history that Texas Tech has been ranked No. 1 indoors by the USTFCCCA. Wes Kittley’s team was also billed No. 1 four weeks in a row last year from Week 4 to Week 7.
The Red Raiders are listed No. 1 ahead of No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Texas and No. 5 Georgia mainly because of their versatility. Led by Divine Oduduru, who was among the 10 men on The Bowerman Preseason Watch List, Texas Tech is projected to score points in five different events come March. Oduduru is the preseason favorite in the 200 and ranked sixth in the 60, while Charles Brown and UTEP transfer Jonah Koech hold down top-2 spots in the long jump and mile, respectively. Brandon Bray and Drew McMichael also give the Red Raiders a solid 1-2 punch in the pole vault.
The defending national champion Gators will rely heavily upon 2018 The Bowerman finalist and 2019 The Bowerman Preseason Watch List member Grant Holloway and Clayton Brown. It currently stands that Holloway is the top-ranked athlete in both the 60 hurdles and long jump, while Brown is top-5 in both the triple jump and high jump. Holloway is the collegiate record holder in the 60 hurdles and finished runner-up in the indoor long jump last year.
It has been quite the climb for the Seminoles. Just two years ago Florida State was ranked 95th in the preseason by the USTFCCCA computers. Now, the Seminoles own their best rank since the 2010 season (Florida State held the No. 1 spot for two weeks nine years ago and the No. 2 spot for equal the amount of time that same year). The Seminoles have their own man on The Bowerman Preseason Watch List (Andre Ewers) and hope that Kansas State transfer Christoff Bryan as well as Darryl Haraway score big points at the NCAA meet.
The Longhorns, who have not been ranked in the top-5 since 2016 and have not been ranked this high to begin the season since that same year, are hoping for big things in Edrick Floréal’s first year on the job. Texas will be led by O’Brien Wasome, who won the indoor triple jump last year with a mark of 16.82m (55-2¼). Other athletes to watch on the Longhorns’ roster include Steele Wasik (No. 4 heptathlete), Steffin McCarter (No. 4 in the long jump) and Adrian Piperi (No. 6 in the shot put).
The Bulldogs continue to be a mainstay in the top-5. Georgia entered the elite group for the first time in program history in Week 1 of 2017. Since then, the Bulldogs have been ranked among the best teams in the nation 12 times and finished on the podium at the indoor meet twice. It will likely be a field show for Georgia this year as The Bowerman Preseason Watch List member Denzel Comenentia is a double threat in the shot put and weight and Johannes Erm enters the season ranked No. 1 in the heptathlon.
Houston, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and BYU round out the top-10 to begin the 2018-19 season. This is the best ranking in program history for the Texas-based Cougars, only the third time in the past 11 years that the Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-10 and only the second time in the past seven years that the Utah-based Cougars have been among the top-10 teams.
The next National Track & Field Rating Index will be released Monday, January 21.