Track & Field Preparing for NCAA Championships: By the Numbers



By Jacob Most
June 3, 2015 -

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- College track and field is a numbers game. Individually and in terms of team competition the sport is in fact measured in numbers, whether they're to quantify time, distance or score.

One week from the start of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the numbers say Kentucky is in good shape.

Ranking

The Kentucky women's team stayed at No. 3 in the final national computer rankings, released by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association earlier this week.

UK was ranked third for the second week in a row. The ranking is the team's highest-ever outdoors.

The Wildcats were also ranked a school-record third nationally in the final rankings of the 2015 indoor season, and they went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Indoor Championships, one point outside of a coveted top-4 place.

The USTFCCCA Computer Rankings use an algorithm to predict how many points each team will score at NCAAs. The algorithm is a projection of the teams' finishing order, accounting not just where athletes are on the national list, but the likelihood of each athlete finishing in scoring territory.

Elite in the east

The Wildcats' sole objective at last week's NCAA East Preliminary Championships was to qualify as many athletes to the NCAA Championships Finals site as possible.

Numerically speaking the Wildcats qualified the second most athletes from the east of any team.

UK will send 13 entries to Oregon next week, one behind No.8 LSU, which qualified 14 entries.

UK's 13 NCAA Championship entries ranks sixth nationally overall when accounting for teams from the west.

But just qualifying athletes to the NCAA Championships doesn't necessarily equate to chances of scoring points. In terms of quality of entries, based solely on previous performances this season and probability of finishing top-8 in Oregon, the Wildcats are in strong position.

According to USTFCCCA Kentucky has the third best chance to claim the NCAA Title.

But then again -- and the group of Wildcats heading to Oregon has plenty of experience in this fact -- high NCAA finishes must be earned. Rankings released a week before the Championships have no impact on anything once the first gun goes off at Hayward Field.

NCAA experience in abundance

As detailed last week, the Kentucky track and field program has emerged as elite over the past three years under Edrick Floréal's direction.

Kentucky's ascent in the track and field world has been accelerated these past two years, and while UK has yet to finish better than fifth at NCAAs, plenty of Wildcats have earned individual glory.

The trick will be getting them all to earn those high places at the same time.

But of the 19 Wildcats who are headed to Eugene (includes athletes that only qualified in relays) just three have never competed at an NCAA Championships.

Of the 19 Wildcats who have competed at past NCAA Championships, nine have finished in the top-8 spots required to score points.

Of those nine, four have earned medals (top-three finishes).

And of those four medalists, two have won NCAA Championships -- Dezerea Bryant and Kendra Harrison.