NEW ORLEANS – Fresh off its top-five finish at the indoor national meet, the Arkansas women’s track and field team has been ranked No. 3 in the USTFCCCA outdoor preseason poll, announced Monday afternoon. Arkansas is one of three Southeastern Conference programs among the top-five, including No. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 LSU.
The national team rankings are compiled by mathematical formula based on national descending order lists. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race. Rankings points do not equate with NCAA Championships team points. Preseason rankings will include marks from 2016, and the National Team Computer Rankings will continue to do so through the third regular-season edition.
Arkansas returns 10 outdoor All-Americans from last season, including national champion pole vaulter Lexi Weeks and bronze-medalist long jumper Taliyah Brooks.
Outdoor All-American Returners from 2016
• Taliyah Brooks – long jump
• Leigha Brown – heptathlon
• Devin Clark – steeplechase
• Daina Harper – 400/1,600 relay
• Kelsey Herman – 400 relay
• Kiara Parker – 400 relay
• Payton Stumbaugh – 60H/pentathlon
• Brianna Swinton – 1,600 relay
• Lexi Weeks – pole vault
• Tori Weeks – pole vault
While only 10 gained All-America recognition last June, Arkansas has several experienced postseason competitors ready to move up in the ranks and help defend the team’s national title. 400-meter hurdler Damajahnee Birch is at the forefront of that group and enters her sophomore campaign with an increased level of fitness attributed to an indoor season saturated with 800s.
The Razorbacks also welcome Devin Clark (steeplechase), Desiree Freier (pole vault) and Payton Stumbaugh (multis/hurdles) back with open arms. Clark and Stumbaugh were out during the 2017 indoor season while Freier missed the entire 2016 year, all due to injuries. Clark, Freier and Stumbaugh have all scored for Arkansas at a national competition and will surely be called upon to do so again this season.
Arkansas was also privy to the resurgence of middle-distance pair Therese Haiss and Nikki Hiltz one week ago who raced to top-six finishes in the mile at the indoor national meet. Haiss and Hiltz, along with freshman phenom Taylor Werner, will join Clark in maintaining Arkansas’ longstanding tradition of middle distance/distance excellence.
The Razorbacks will make their outdoor debut at the Arkansas Spring Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on March 24-25 at John McDonnell Field.
For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.