Oakland University men’s and women’s outdoor track teams were both slated to finish 8th in the Summit League preseason polls released on March 15.
“The 8th place ranking is justified,” said Head Coach Paul Rice. “We showed absolutely nothing at the indoor championships to make anyone think we are better than that ranking going into the outdoor season.”
The preseason poll has North Dakota State in first place, Southern Utah in second and South Dakota in third for the women and men, only replacing South Dakota with Oral Roberts. Oakland, IUPUI, IPFW and Western Illinois round out the bottom of both polls.
“I do believe Oakland should be placed higher because I see how hard the teams work every day, but they will have to prove it on the track,” Brittni Hutton, junior distance runner, said. “The guys and girls teams are getting faster, stronger and mentally tougher by the day.”
The indoor track championships were held Feb. 24 and 25 in Ft. Wayne, Ind. The first day, the men received two points and the women received eight.
On the second day, the men received nine points and the women got 14.
“At the indoor championships, we were missing quite a few athletes on both sides due to a combination of injuries and redshirts,” Rice said.
Oakland’s first meet is on Saturday, March 31 at 10 a.m. in Toledo, Ohio. It marks the opening of the outdoor season for both men’s and women’s track and field teams.
Other prominent competitions the teams are looking forward to are the University of Detroit-Mercy Dual meet and the Eastern Michigan University Twilight meet.
“The UDM Dual is always an exciting and fun meet for us,” Rice said. “We are taking our top distance athletes out to Bucknell with a chance to really race fast and the EMU Twilight meet always produces fast times.”
“Competition looks promising this year,” Hutton said. “I am looking forward to running next week at Toledo, Ohio for our first meet and finally getting to wear an Oakland uniform again.”
Oakland has a total of 12 returning athletes who placed in the top eight of the Summit League Championships last season.
“I would anticipate that our returners will perform very well outdoors, especially the athletes that scored last year for us,” Rice said. “We do have a few new athletes this year that have a chance to contribute and also a few athletes that were redshirted last outdoor season.”
Rice said that if his teams are healthy, Oakland will rank no lower than 6th place at the end of the season.
The Summit League Championships will be held in Fargo, N.D. May 10 and May 12.
Contact Staff Reporter Damien Dennis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @djdennisOU