The 2023 men's outdoor track and field season is off to a great start. With that, comes the first team rankings of the season.
Here are takeaways from the first national rating index from the USTFCCCA (which is also listed below).
Minnesota takes the top spot
No. 1 Minnesota takes the top spot in the first top 25 of the year. Yes, you read that right.
If Minnesota appearing at the top comes as a surprise to you, you're probably not alone. The Gophers have only been a top-10 program once before during the 2011 preseason. Prior to today, Minnesota had never been a top-10 team in the country during the regular season.
So how did the Gophers land at the top?
Minnesota currently has four men with nation-leading marks in Kion Benjamin (100m), Devin Augustine (200m), Matthew Wilkinson (steeplechase) and Isaiah Schafer shot put. No other team in the country has more than one. The Gophers also have five other athletes with top 10 marks. Combine that and you have the nation's No.1 team.
The #Gophers have 4⃣ men individually ranked No. 1 in the nation this season! #ncaaTF— Minnesota Cross Country, Track & Field (@GopherCCTF) March 27, 2023
No other team has more than one... 😎 pic.twitter.com/xtvukzugIW
WATCH LIST: The 2023 Bowerman watch list for men's and women's NCAA track and field
California and Harvard make history in the top five
No. 3 California and No. 4 Harvard also made history in the top five as both programs landed their highest rankings ever. Cal has never ranked higher than No. 12 back in 2009 and Harvard has never ranked higher than No. 29 to kick off 2022's first men's top 25.
The Bears nor Crimson have any national leaders, but both have two top-five and five top-10 marks. Cal's top-10 marks all come from field event success, and that's without 2022's discus runner-up Mykolas Alekna. Harvard's top-10 marks are more diversified, but 10K runner Graham Blanks and 400 hurdler Aaron Shirley stand out with their second-best times in the country.
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Defending champion Florida is nowhere to be found
Florida is the defending outdoor track and field champion, but the Gators don't appear in the season's first top-25. There's an easy explanation for that. Florida only has had four competitors who qualify for the ratings index at this point of the season. The Gators competed in FSU Relays last week, it's only meet so far this outdoor season. With Florida Relays coming up this week, Florida likely used the time after indoor championships to recover and prepare for its first home meet.
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Don't look too deep into the first top-25
The first edition of the USTFCCCA ratings index comes only 16 days after the 2022 DI indoor championships. That's less than two weeks for top athletes to recover. While there have been outdoor meets dating back to the start of March, one can't get a true evaluation of the best teams in the country when the best on some of these teams have yet to compete.
That said, perennial powers like No. 2 LSU and No. 5 Texas A&M in the top five is intriguing and could be a sign of things to come.
However, two of the sport's premier meets, Texas Relays and Florida Relays, are this week, meaning the outdoor season is about to enter full swing. By this time next week, the top 25 could have an entirely new look.
Who decided to put both of these meets on the same weekend? 😭😭— Stan Becton (@stan_becton) March 27, 2023
Idk how I’ll watch both @NCAATrackField track and field meets at the same time but I’m sure @TexasTFXC and @GatorsTF will host fantastic meets yet again pic.twitter.com/ax58eQmdLV
👀: 5 must-watch outdoor track and field meets to pay attention to in 2023
See the full rankings from March 27, 2023:
|9||Long Beach State||125.70|
|22||North Dakota State||91.98|