The Division I women's outdoor track and field championships are rapidly approaching and multiple teams have their eyes set on the national title. Here's a look at the top teams in the country — based on the latest USTFCCCA rankings — and why each could lift the trophy at the season's end.
No. 1 Texas Longhorns
Texas has been the No. 1 team in the country since the first rankings came out and the Longhorns will try to go wire-to-wire at the 2022 championships in search of their first title since 2005.
Texas has what it takes to win the title thanks to its NCAA-leading 18 entries into the championships. The Longhorns have more than just numbers, with plenty of athletes capable of winning events or scoring high point totals; 11 of the 18 qualifying marks would score points.
If Texas can continue its season-long dominance in the sprints, especially with the nation's fastest 4x100-meter relay, the Longhorns could lift the hardware.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know for the DI outdoor track and field championships
No. 2 Florida Gators
Florida can win the 2022 title and complete the season sweep after winning the indoor championship during the winter.
How can they do it?
The indoor champs can rely on a combination of star power and depth. The Gators have two Bowerman watch list candidates in Anna Hall and Jasmine Moore. Moore will be competing in the long jump and triple jump, looking to sweep the calendar championships in both events. Hall will be competing in three events, including the heptathlon where she has a top-five all-time score. Moore and Hall could combine for over 30 points and that would go a long way to boosting Florida's title chances.
Florida also has 11 other entries into the championship field that could add to its final point total. While the Gators will be missing a star in Grace Stark and her 10 points from winning the short hurdles in the winter, there are other elite performers on the squad. Talitha Diggs (400 meters) and Imogen Barrett (800 meters) are both candidates to win their events after leading the nation in their events earlier this year.
Florida has never won an outdoor title, but 2022 could finally be the year.
💍: 5 track and field programs that could be the next first-time national champion
No. 3 Texas A&M
Texas A&M finished second at last year's championships, just nine points away from first place. In 2022, the Aggies can finally get over the hump.
Texas A&M is loaded with talent entering the championships. Take a look:
- Charokee Young is the only collegiate woman to run sub-50 in the 400 meters this season.
- Lamara Distin has the nation's leading high jump in 2022.
- Kaylah Robinson ran the fastest 100-meter hurdle time at the preliminary meets.
- Deborah Acquah jumped the farthest in the long jump at the preliminary meets and led the NCAA in the event for a portion of the year.
If those individual marks weren't enough, then Texas A&M's 4x400 meter relay should also grab your attention; only one other relay in NCAA history has ever run faster than the 3:22.01 time put up by the Aggies.
Loaded. Texas A&M is deep with talent and could score in almost every event it participates in. If it does, the Aggies will become the fifth team to begin the season ranked No. 4 to win the title, taking the trophy back to College Station for the first time since 2014.
PRELIMS: Recapping the 2022 DI outdoor track and field east and west preliminaries results
No. 4 Texas Tech
Why can Texas Tech win the 2022 title? It starts with "Jumps U."
Texas Tech has a trio of jumpers — both long and triple — that could win or score high at the championships. No one has long jumped farther than Monae' Nichols this season and Ruth Usoro is the reigning triple jump champion. Throw in Ruta Lasmane, who's competing in both jump events, and you have the potential for 25 or more points to the Red Raiders.
Beyond the jumps, Texas Tech has sprinter Rosemary Chukwuma looking to pull off the double in the 100 and 200 meters. Big 12 100-meter hurdles champion Demisha Roswell also is competing. With Seasons Usual (discus) and Callie Jones (heptathlon) adding to the 14 Red Raider entries at the championships, Texas Tech can support its jumping prowess with strong performance throughout the meet. That could be enough to bring home the title.
NUMBERS: These programs have the most entries at the 2022 Division I outdoor track and field championships
No. 5 LSU
If you want speed, you'll find it at LSU in these championships. The Tigers have six entries into events 400 meters or less and entries into both relays.
Leading the speed show are Bowerman candidates Alia Armstrong and Favour Ofili. Armstrong is competing in the 100-meter hurdles and will look to show the world what we missed out on in the indoor short hurdles after a false start. Meanwhile, Ofili is the 200-meter record holder and she'll also compete in the 100 meters.
WATCH: LSU's Favour Ofili sets new NCAA record in women's 200 meters
If the Bowerman duo wasn't enough, then the two other Tigers, Katy-Ann McDonald (800 meters) and Lisa Gunnarsson (Pole Vault) lead the nation in their events.
It's this star power that could lead LSU to its 15th title in 2022, 11 more than the next women's program.
🏆: Here are the DI track and field teams with most NCAA championships
No. 6 Arkansas
Arkansas can win the 2022 championship thanks to a well-rounded roster of competitors. The Razorbacks have 14 entries into the championships, tied for the third-most in the NCAA.
Arkansas is led by Bowerman candidate Britton Wilson. She won't be competing for the 400 double as she did at the SEC Championships, but she will compete in the 400-meter hurdles, where she has the nation's fastest time.
Wilson will also compete in the 4x400 meter relay, where the Razorbacks have the third-fastest time of all time. Joining Wilson on the relay team are Morgan Burks Magee, Rosey Effiong and Jada Baylark; all three will be competing in individual events at the championships.
Likewise, Arkansas has Krissy Gear, Isabel Van Camp, Logan Jolly and Lauren Gregory all competing in the distance events. Gregory will go for the distance double in the 5000 and 10000 meters, two events where she has top-five times this season. The Razorbacks will have entries in the field events too with three competitors in the pole vault.
If Arkansas can score points from its diverse set of entries, it could have enough to raise the trophy when it's all said and done.
ELITE: The 8 best races from the 2022 women’s outdoor track and field season — so far
No. 7 Kentucky
Kentucky has never won a women's outdoor track and field team championship, but the Wildcats can bring home their first trophy in 2022 if it can pull off a string of first-place finishes.
Kentucky has the least amount of entries of any program on this list, but it has the star power to make up for it, led by sprinter Abby Steiner.
Steiner is a Bowerman candidate that has followed up a record-setting indoor season with an impressive outdoor season that will have her competing in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100 meter relay. Steiner has shown throughout the season that she's one of the nation's best, and a first or second-place finish in any event will boost Kentucky's title chances.
MORE: Here's how the outdoor track and field championships work
Kentucky has other stars competing in the championships that are capable of winning events including Masai Russell and Alexis Holmes. Russell is one of the nation's best hurdlers and will go for the hurdle double in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles. Holmes is one of the five best 400-meter runners in the country and she'll go for the individual trophy in Eugene. Holmes also runs anchor on Kentucky's NCAA record-holding 4x400 meter relay team, another opportunity for the Wildcats to stand atop the podium.
Kentucky can win the 2022 team title if its top athletes can win individual titles, despite lacking the overall numbers of other programs.