Kansas is the early outdoor favorite in the first edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) rankings, released Tuesday.
Kansas starts the season No. 1 with 307.29 points, on the strength of 11 returners from 2012 ranked in the top 10 of their events, including top-ranked Andrea Geubelle (triple jump, No. 8 long jump) and Alena Krechyk (hammer throw). Geubelle took both the long jump and triple jump titles at the recent indoor championships, and the Jayhawks finished runner-up as a team.
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Flying right behind the Jayhawks in the No. 2 position are the Oregon Ducks at 295.04 team points, going for the triple crown with NCAA titles in cross country and indoor track already this academic year. The Ducks, like the Jayhawks, boast 11 returners from last season ranked in the top 10 of their events, including English Gardner, the defending champ at 100 meters. Oregon has finished runner-up at the past four NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The Arizona Wildcats are ranked No. 3 to begin the season with 262.22 team points, marking their highest-ever position in the rankings. Like Kansas and Oregon, Arizona will benefit from 11 returners from a year ago ranked in their events’ top 10, including top-ranked Brigetta Barrett — winner of the past five high jump NCAA titles both indoors and out — and Georganne Moline in the 400 hurdles, both of whom were Olympians in 2012.
Defending outdoor champ LSU starts the season No. 4 with 231.47 team points. The Lady Tigers boast three individuals ranked as the top returners in their respective events, including reigning Bowerman winner Kimberlyn Duncan at both 100 and 200 meters and Charlene Lipsey at 800 meters.
Texas rounded out the top five with a team score of 217.95. The Longhorns enter with seven returners ranked in the top ten of their events, including Christy Udoh and Chalonda Goodman at No. 4 and 8, respectively, at 200 meters.