FAYETTEVILLE – With the start of the 2011 outdoor season, the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) released its preseason poll Wednesday. The University of Arkansas men’s track and field team opens the season with a No. 14 ranking, while the Razorback women are the ninth-ranked team in the nation.
In the men’s poll, the Razorbacks are one of nine teams from the Southeastern Conference, the highest total by one conference in the preseason rankings. Arkansas joins top-ranked Florida, No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Mississippi State, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 18 Auburn, No. 20 South Carolina, No. 22 Alabama and No. 23 Georgia. The SEC is the top-rated league in the conference index, ahead of the Big 12 and Pac-10, respectively.
Based on previous results, the Razorback men have five top-10 event preseason performers. Dorian Ulrey returns to the track with a No. 3 ranking in the 1,500 meters. Arkansas has three runners within the top 10 of the 10,000 meters with Eric Fernandez (third), Solomon Haile (seventh) and Lane Boyer (10th). Tarik Batchelor leads the field crew with a No. 10 spot in the triple jump.
In the women’s poll, Arkansas is second-highest ranked SEC team and one of four teams from the conference in the preseason release. Arkansas is ranked along with No. 3 LSU, No. 10 Auburn and No. 15 Tennessee. In the conference index ratings, the SEC is third and trails the Big 12 and Pac-10, respectively.
Individually, the Razorback women also have five top-10 event preseason performers. NCAA indoor champion Tina Sutej sits atop the pole vault standings. Shelise Williams and Regina George are third and eighth, respectively, in the 400 meters, while Stephanie Brown owns the No. 10 returning time in the 800 meters. The 4×400-meter relay begins the year ranked fifth.
There are no automatic qualifying standards for the outdoor season. The top 48 declared student-athletes will get into individual events per region, while the top 24 relays declared per region will also qualify. The national performance list is updated weekly at http://www.tfrrs.com. Arkansas will participate in the NCAA West Prelims, May 26-28 in Eugene, Ore.
Both teams begin their outdoor campaigns this weekend. The Razorback men begin their season at a tri-meet with No. 17 Texas and No. 24 UCLA in Austin. The Arkansas women and a handful of the men’s distance runners will travel to the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. The collegiate outdoor season will culminate June 8-11 with the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Download: USTFCCCA pre-rankings_03.23.pdf