LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the third season in a row, the Kentucky women's track and field program will begin the season ranked in the preseason top 10, as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association ranked the Wildcats eighth in its initial computer rankings.
The Wildcats began the last two years ranked No. 6.
The USTFCCCA computer rankings are based on an algorithm, which was developed to serve as a close-to-comprehensive predictor of NCAA Championship finishes. The two biggest deviations from typical form charts, which only account for the top eight performers in a particular season, are a bonus for separation from the field and points for athletes ranked outside of the top eight on performance lists.
Kentucky has built itself into an elite program under head coach Edrick Floréal, who is in his fourth season at UK.
The Big Blue Nation will have multiple opportunities to witness the highly-ranked Wildcats take on the very best of collegiate track and field in Lexington at Nutter Field House throughout the 2016 indoor season.
The Wildcats will host what has become one of the best regular-season fields of any meet in the nation for the Rod McCravy Memorial Jan. 22-23. The Wildcats will also host the Kentucky Invitational on Jan. 15-16.
Sha'keela Saunders was named National Athlete of the Week in late December, as she began this season with a long jump of 21-feet, 6.25 inches (6.56 meters).
The mark took national lead by more than one foot.
That mark was her indoor personal best, meaning she opened the 2015-16 season with a mark better than what she produced to win both the Southeastern Conference title and NCAA Silver Medal last year.
The Kentucky women's team will look to build off its NCAA Runner-up finish outdoors a year ago. The Wildcats lost a great deal from their 2015 squad, including all-time great NCAA Champions Kendra Harrison and Dezerea Bryant, but the Wildcats also bring back an abundance of elite talent in addition to a strong crop of newcomers.
Rebecca Famurewa also returns for her senior season. She was SEC Bronze Medalist in the weight throw indoors last season, before going on to win medals in two events at SEC outdoors and scoring her first NCAA points in the discus.
Kentucky has multiple athletes looking to bring the men's team to the next level this season. The Wildcats figure to be led by reigning SEC Outdoor High Jump Champion Justin Kretchmer, in addition to SEC scorers Nick Anderson (hurdles) and Tim Duckworth (multis).