Arkansas women No. 1 in preseason poll

By: Matt Jones
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Arkansas coach Lance Harter holds an SEC championship trophy during an on-field recognition at the Razorbacks' football game against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas coach Lance Harter holds an SEC championship trophy during an on-field recognition at the Razorbacks' football game against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas' women will start the 2019 indoor track & field season at the top of the national rankings.

The Razorbacks were the No. 1 team in the preseason poll released Thursday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Arkansas opens the season Friday with the Arkansas Invitational and a field that will include Oklahoma State and Tulsa.

"Well, it definitely puts you in the spotlight," Arkansas coach Lance Harter said of the No. 1 ranking. "I think what we do is tell our kids, ‘Hey, it’s a vote of confidence from my coaching peer group.' But at the same time, it means nothing when we go to these track meets and compete for an SEC title or try to be on the podium at the national championships."

The Razorbacks are coming off a national runner-up finish last season indoors, and return a pair of individual national champions, pole vaulter Lexi Jacobus and Payton Chadwick in the 60 hurdles. Jacobus is one of 10 athletes on the preseason watch list for the Bowerman Trophy, the top individual award in track & field.

Arkansas also returns pole vaulters Tori Hoggard and Desiree Freier, who finished second and fifth at the national meet a year ago, and Janeek Brown, who finished eighth in last year's 60 hurdles. The Razorbacks are expected to be bolstered by the addition of distance runners Lauren Gregory, who redshirted last year, and Taylor Werner, a 2017 All-American.

Behind Arkansas in the top five of the poll are Florida State, Texas A&M, Southern Cal and Oregon. The Razorbacks will host the Southeastern Conference Championships on Feb. 22-23, and the Aggies will host the NCAA Championships on March 8-9.

Arkansas' men were ranked No. 8 in their preseason poll. Texas Tech was the preseason No. 1 men's team, and SEC teams Florida (2), Georgia (5) and Alabama (7) are ahead of the Razorbacks.

The top returning men at Arkansas are distance runner Cameron Griffith, a third-place finisher in the 3,000 meters last year, and Gabe Moore, who finished sixth in the heptathlon.

Bob Holt contributed information for this story

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