Friday, January 9, 2009

Washington, Washington State unranked in USTFCCCA pre-season poll...

The Oregon Ducks open up the 2009 season as the top ranked team in Division I men's indoor track and field the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced on Wednesday.

Oregon is led by 2008 Beijing Olympians Andrew Wheating and Galen Rupp. The Ducks also return All-Americans Ashton Eaton (Heptathlon) and Andrew Acosta (Mile runner-up in 2008). Oregon finished 19th at the NCAA Championships in 2008.

Ranked second in the preseason rankings is Arizona State. Last year the Sun Devils took home the NCAA Championship team title outdueling No. 5 Florida State 44-41 in the overall team standings. Ryan Whiting returns for his junior season at Arizona State and is the defending shot put champion. Whiting, along with transfer Brandon Bethke and senior Joel Phillip should give the Sun Devils a shot at back-to-back national titles.

Arkansas is ranked third and will be seeking its first indoor national title since 2006. The Razorbacks return several All-Americans including defending national champion Nkosinza Balumbu who took home top honors in the triple jump a year ago. J-Mee Samuels is also back for Arkansas after earning two All-American honors in the 200-meter dash and 60-meter dash.

After finishing the 2008 indoor track and field season in seventh place at the NCAA Championships, the Texas A&M Aggie women will begin the 2009 season with the No. 1 ranking in hand in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I women's indoor track and field preseason rankings.

The Aggies are led by juniors Porscha Lucas and Jessica Beard. Both Beard and Lucas picked up two All-American honors last year at the NCAA Championships. Beard is the defending 400-meter dash champion and also ran on the runner-up 1600-meter relay team. Lucas finished fourth overall in the 200-meter dash and 11th in the 60-meter dash.

A&M also will return All-Americans Sandy Wooten, who ran on the 1600-meter relay, and Ashika Charan, an All-American in both the long and triple jumps, and Jeneba Tarmoh.

LSU, last year's NCAA Championship runner-up, will begin 2009 ranked second behind the Aggies. LSU picked up 127.20 points and is led by junior LaTavia Thomas, the defending 800-meter champion. LSU also returns junior All-Americans Samantha Henry and Andrea Linton. Henry finished fifth in the 60-meter dash, while Linton placed seventh and ninth in the long and triple jumps.

No. 3 Michigan finished third in the team championship standings last year and is led by Bettie Wade (2nd in the pentathlon at 2008 Indoor NCAAs), and Tiffany Offili (defending 60-meter Hurdles champion). Michigan also placed second in the DMR behind Tennessee. Geena Gall, fourth in the 800 at the 2008 Indoor NCAA Championships, will also return for the Wolverines.

Both the University of Washington and Washington State University men’s and women’s squads were unranked in the USTFCCCA polls. Washington competes next Saturday at the UW Indoor Preview at the Dempsey Indoor, with teams such as #1 men/#8 women ranked Oregon participating and #17 women Stanford, while Washington State will host the WSU Indoor Open the following weekend.

The 2009 USTFCCCA Division I Rankings will be released on Wednesdays during the indoor track and field season. Rankings are compiled by Tom Lewis.

To read the full USTFCCCA releases, click here...

The 2009 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held March 13-14 in College Station, Texas.

NOTE: The USTFCCCA contributed to this report.

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