The 2023 women'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).
LSU takes the top spot
For the 28th time in LSU history, the Tigers have the No. 1 spot in the women's top 25. It's the first time the Tigers have landed No. 1 since a 10-week run in 2021.
LSU is the top team thanks to nation-leading times from Alia Armstrong in the 100 meter hurdles and Armstrong, Favour Ofili, Tionna Brown and Brianna Lyston in the 4x100 meter relay. The Bayou Bengals have nine top-10 marks in the country, all in sprinting events. And that's without star 200 meter specialist Ofili taking the track individually.
LSU looks poised for success throughout the season.
Alia Armstrong and Leah Phillips go 🥇 and 🥈 in the 100-meter hurdles with nation-leading times of 12.82 and 12.89! 😮💨#GeauxTigers | 📊 https://t.co/YDJoEL3810 pic.twitter.com/jQuk73lra6— LSU Track & Field (@LSUTrackField) March 25, 2023
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Southern California might be back
No. 2 Southern California landed the highest it has been in the top 25 since its 2021 national title winning season. Last year, USC only appeared in the top 10 once — peaking at ninth — and finished 30th at DI outdoor championships. That definitely qualifies as a down year in the first Trojan season under alum-turned-coach Quincy Watts.
After the first top 25 of 2023, the Trojans look to be back to their title-contending ways. Sprinters Samira Moody and Christine Mallard are tied for the national lead in the 200 meters and USC has three other top-five national marks.
However, the odds are against the Trojans winning the title as teams that have started the season No. 2 have NEVER won the national championship. As the season progresses, we'll see if USC can return to its previous peak.
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UCF makes history in the top five
No. 3 UCF has its highest spot in the top 25 in program history. The Knights haven't been a top-10 team in a decade, when they finished fifth at DI outdoor championships.
UCF's surge near the top is powered by seven top-10 marks, including and impressive long jump-triple jump double from Jasmine Scott Kilgo. UCF only has women's track and field team so the Knights not only have the highest spot in the top 25 in women's history, but also school history.
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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 three competitors who qualify for the ratings index at this point of the season. The Gators competed in FSU Relays last week — its 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. 1 LSU, No. 2 Southern California 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, the Texas Relays and the 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
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See the full rankings from March 27, 2023: