Led by a nation-best nine returning individual scorers from their 2013 NCAA championships team, the Razorbacks are far and away the No. 1 team in the computer rankings. Arkansas accumulated 230.88 rankings points — more than 53 points ahead of No. 2 Florida.Among those returners are two-time defending indoor pole vault champion Andrew Irwin and defending heptathlon national champion Kevin Lazas.
Tomas Squella is also back as the nation’s top returning runner at 800 meters, with teammate Patrick Rono fourth in the same event. The long jump is similarly strong with Raymond Higgs and Jarrion Lawson second and third on the returners list, respectively.
Individual rankings include both the best marks of the 2013 indoor season and marks from the early part of the current 2014 season.
No. 2 Florida, second at 2013 NCAAs, registered a score of 177.79 rankings points behind seven total returning individual scorers from 2013, second-best in the nation.
Dendy is the top national returner in both the long jump and triple jump, while Hall gives the Gators three top-15 returners at 400 meters.
At No. 3 with 165.33 ranking points, Oregon, sixth at 2013 NCAAs, is without a top-ranked individual in any event but has a bevy of top-10 individuals in nearly every discipline on the track. Mike Berry (400 meters), Boru Guyota (800 meters), and Trevor Dunbar (5000 meters) all checked in at No. 2 in their respective events, and the Ducks placed three returners among the top-10 in the mile, 3000 meters and 5000 meters. All that without taking into account 2013 cross country champion Edward Cheserek, who will be competing in his first collegiate track season.
Fourth-ranked Wisconsin, third at 2013 NCAAs, draws its preseason strength from five returning scorers in the distance races and multi-events. Japheth Cato returns as the national runner-up in the heptathlon — one of just two men in collegiate history to score more than 6000 points twice in one season (Ashton Eaton, Oregon, 2010) –and Zach Ziemek is the fifth-best returner in the nation.
Olympian Mo Ahmed (3000 and 5000 meters) and Austin Mudd (800 meters and the mile) are both top-10 returners, also.
With two returning scorers from the 2013 championships, Texas A&M rounds out the top five. Deon Lendore is the nation’s fastest returner at 400 meters, and Wayne Davis II was the national runner-up in the 60-meter hurdles.
Sixth-ranked Penn State, No. 7 Florida State, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 9 Minnesota and No. 19 Oklahoma State round out the top 10.
The Big Ten notched four top-10 teams, to the SEC’s three, but with seven total in the top 25 the SEC has the advantage over the Big Ten and the MPSF with five each.