On the eve of their first outdoor competition, the LSU track and field teams picked up some lofty distinctions as two of the nation’s top teams in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s power rankings.
The USTFCCCA tabbed the LSU women as the No. 1 team in the nation in the preseason power rankings, while the men were fourth going into the University of Miami’s Hurricane Invitational on Friday.
The power rankings are derived from marks for returning athletes from the 2015 outdoor season — not this past indoor season — until enough data can be collected from this season at the end of April.
After that, only data from the current campaign is used to determine the power rankings.
The Lady Tigers earned their preseason No. 1 ranking as they return a squad that ranked among the nation’s elite one year ago. Eight All-Americans scored in six different finals at the national championships, where the Lady Tigers finished 11th.
The men’s team returns four scoring All-Americans of its own as the Tigers received a No. 4 preseason ranking following back-to-back fourth-place team finishes at the NCAA championships the past two years.
Among the Lady Tigers’ returning All-Americans is junior Rebekah Wales, who placed fourth nationally in the javelin final to cap a breakout sophomore season.
She is joined by senior Chanice Chase in the 100-meter hurdles, junior Nataliyah Friar in the triple jump and sophomore Aleia Hobbs in the 100-meter dash. Each finished sixth in her event at nationals last season.
Junior Jada Martin and sophomore Daeshon Gordon both scored one point for the team with eighth-place individual finishes at the NCAA meet.
Hobbs and Martin also teamed with Mikiah Brisco and Rushell Harvey as one of the nation’s leading 4x100 relay teams with a 2015 seasonal best of 42.80 seconds, good for a fifth-place national finish.
The Tigers’ sprinters, hurdlers and relay teams accounted for all 45 of the team’s points last June, and many make their return for this season.
Tremayne Acy returns for his junior season following a sophomore year in which he finished fourth nationally in the 200 meters while running his career-best wind-aided time of 20.04 in the national final.
He returns to lead LSU’s 4x100 relay team, which was third in a time of 38.62 seconds.
The Tigers also return two members of their national champion 4x400 relay team in seniors Fitzroy Dunkley and Cyril Grayson. They teamed with transfers LaMar Bruton and Michael Cherry to win the NCAA indoor earlier this month.