NEW ORLEANS -- Florida’s men and Oregon’s women, both two-time defending  national champions, begin the 2012 season in familiar territory -- as the nation’s No. 1 teams. The preseason national team computer rankings as calculated by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association projects the Gators and Ducks as the early paper favorites based largely on performance bests from returners.

Rank School 2011 Final
1 Florida 1
2 Arkansas 22
3 LSU 4
4 Ohio State NR
5 Nebraska 20
Complete Poll

Florida won their second-consecutive NCAA championship in 2011 scoring 52 points at the national championships, 12 points better than runner-up Texas A&M’s 40. The Gators lost jumpers Will Claye and 2011 Bowerman finalist Christian Taylor to the pro circuit for 2012, but return two-time 60-meter champion Jeff Demps, jumper Omar Craddock, sprinter Tony McQuay, heptathlete Gray Horn and shot-putter Kemal Mesic among others.

Oregon’s women easily took the 2011 indoor national crown scoring 67 points, 29 points ahead of nearest challenger Texas (38). The Ducks return Jordan Hasay for her junior season. Hasay won the mile and 3000 meters at last year’s indoor championships. In addition, Oregon returns collegiate record holder in the pentathlon Brianne Theisen for a senior campaign.

The SEC and Big Ten each have six squads in the preseason top 25 among men’s squads. Five Big 12 teams are in the top 25 on the women’s side, followed by the Pac-12 with four.