Lincoln Women Open Season Ranked No. 1 in the Country
JEFFERSON CITY - The Lincoln women's track & field team is the early favorite to win the 2013 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championship, according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's Division II preseason poll. The LU men were picked No. 7 in the poll, which was released on Tuesday.
The Blue Tiger women received 279.44 points to claim the top spot in the USTFCCCA's initial poll. Sixteen LU athletes appear in the top 10 of the event rankings, including defending champions senior Latoya King at 100 and 200 meters, senior Michelle Cumberbatch in the 400 meter hurdles and junior Nickeisha Beaumont in the long jump.
Lincoln received over 70 more points in poll than Adams State, which was ranked second with 206.74 points. Grand Canyon (176.23 points) checks in at third while Grand Valley State, the two-time defending national champion, earned 142.00 points to take the No. 4 slot in the preseason rankings. Johnson C. Smith rounds out the top five with 126.69 points.
The Blue Tiger women lead three MIAA programs ranked in the USTFCCCA's preseason poll. Central Missouri (91.48) opens the year ranked No. 11 while Pittsburg State (47.99) begins the season ranked No. 21. The three MIAA teams combined to earn 550.69 points in the opening rankings, more than other Division II conference in the country.
In the men's rankings, Lincoln was once again the highest-ranked MIAA program, receiving 120.22 points to begin the year ranked No. 7 in the nation. Pittsburg State opens two spots behind Lincoln at No. 9 with 100.65 points while Missouri Southern (88.71 points) checks in at No. 12 and Central Missouri (49.64) opens at the No. 24 spot. The MIAA also earned the most points (467.02) of any conference in the men's rankings, and the league's four ranked teams are the most from any single conference.
Grand Canyon, which is in its final season as a Division II program with a transition to Division I beginning next year, opens its last year as the No. 1 team in the USTFCCCA's preseason men's rankings. Grand Canyon earned 234.89 points in the initial poll while, with 219.73 points, Saint Augustine's begins the year at No. 2. The reigning national champion, Adams State, opens the year at No. 3 with 186.58 points while Findlay is fourth (133.70) and Texas A&M-Kingsville is No. 5 (132.65).
According to the USTFCCA website, the organization compiles its national team rankings by "mathematical formulae based on national descending order lists and data taken from previous seasons. For the preseason ranking and early-season rankings, data will be taken from previous seasons as well as the current season. 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."
The Blue Tigers, who are led by head coach Victor Thomas and assistant coach Ailene Smith, are scheduled to split their time between two meets this week. Some LU athletes will travel to Austin, Texas to compete in the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays (March 27-30) while others are expected to be in St. Louis, Mo. for the Washington University-St. Louis Invitational (March 29-30).