Kansas leads top 25 with 317.16 points heading into NCAA championships
In the most recent USTFCCCA rankings, Kansas remained No. 1 at 317.16 points (13 entries), followed by No. 2 Texas A&M at 271.81 (15 entries), No. 3 Florida at 260.17 (15 entries), No. 4 LSU at 247.86 (12 entries) and No. 5 Oregon (15 entries).
Both of the top two teams fell victim to significant upsets in the Prelims, as both second-ranked Kansas long jumper Francine Simpson and No. 2 discus thrower Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M did not advance to Eugene in their respective events. Nonetheless, the two squad remain atop the rankings, though the field was able to tighten the race for the crown as a result.
Despite having the fourth-most entries at 13, the Jayhawks are in strong position with each of their competitors ranked within the top nine of their events — seven of whom are seeded in the top five. Though none are ranked No. 1 in their respective events a number of student-athletes have prior championships to their names, including indoor long jump and triple jump champ Andrea Geubelle (No. 3 and No. 2, respectively), indoor pole vault champ Natalia Bartnovskaya (No. 2) and 2012 indoor 400 champ Diamond Dixon (No. 5). Geubelle and Bartnovskaya headline a nation-best five entries in the jumps events for Kansas.
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Texas A&M has the advantage against the field in sheer number of entries at 16, with half of those coming in the form of eight sprints/hurdles entries — most in the nation. The Aggies will send four at 100 meters, the most by a single women’s team in a single event. All four entries are seeded in the top 10 in No. 6 Ashley Collier, No. 7 Ashton Purvis, No. 8 Jennifer Madu and No. 10 Olivia Ekpone. No. 2 Kamaria Brown joins Purvis and Ekpone at 200 meters. Also a significant factor for the Aggies will be freshman jumper LaQue Moen-Davis, ranked No. 4 in the triple jump and No. 5 in the long jump. In total, 12 of the Aggies’ 16 entries are seeded within their respective events’ top 10.
No. 3 Florida was the biggest beneficiary of the Prelims on the women’s side, jumping to No. 2 with 15 entries, tied with No. 5 Oregon for second-most in the nation. Like Texas A&M, the Gators are very sprints and hurdles heavy with seven entries in those events, though only 400 hurdler Ugonna Ndu is ranked within the top 10 of her event. That depth in sprints correlates to the No. 2 4×400 team in the nation, which could be a definite advantage at the end of a potentially close meet. Elsewhere, the Gators have a pair of top-five performers in both the 1,500 (No. 2 Cory McGee and No. 4 Agata Strausa) and in the javelin (No. 2 Marija Vucenovic and No. 5 Fawn Miller).
No. 4 LSU will bring 12 entries to Hayward Field, tied for fifth-most with No. 6 Arizona and No. 12 Texas. The Lady Tigers’ five entries in the sprints and hurdles are headlined by reigning 200 champ and top seed Kimberlyn Duncan — the 2012 The Bowerman Winner — who is also No. 3 at 100 meters. Middle distance is also a strength for the squad with top-seeded Natoya Goule and No. 3 Charlene Lipsey both competing at 800 meters.
No. 5 Oregon, the indoor NCAA champion, was another team that sustained a major blow at the prelims with No. 2 10,000-meter runner Jordan Hasay unable to qualify for the NCAA finals. Despite that setback, the Ducks will still field 15 entries in front of their home crowd at Hayward, the second most of any team in the country. The Ducks are well-balanced on the track with five entries apiece in the sprints, hurdles, middle and long distance events.