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Jan. 6, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina men’s and women’s track and field teams are both expected to be title contenders in the indoor season after earning top 15 rankings in the 2010 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA) preseason poll.

The Gamecock women’s team is ranked No. 7 in the nation while the men’s team comes in at No. 12. According to the national rankings, the women are predicted third in the SEC behind LSU and Florida, and the men are predicted fourth in the SEC behind Florida, Arkansas and LSU. Coach Curtis Frye’s teams are both considered to be stronger than last year’s squads as the men are ranked eight spots ahead of its 2009 final placing and the women jumped five spots from its indoor placement.

South Carolina returns 12 indoor All-Americans this season, six coming from both the men’s and women’s squads. The women’s team is led by returning NCAA champion Lakya Brookins in the 60-meter dash. Four other Gamecocks on the women’s side are considered in the top 10 in their events in Shayla Mahan (ranked third in the 60-meter dash), Nadonnia Rodrigues (ranked sixth in the 400-meter dash), Brandi Cross (ranked seventh in the 400-meter dash) and the 4x400m relay team that is ranked second in the preseason.

The men’s squad also has five members ranked in the top 10 for their respective events, led by NCAA bronze medalist Johnny Dutch in the 60-meter hurdles. Booker Nunley (ranked eighth in the 60-meter hurdles), Antonio Sales (ranked seventh in the 200-meter dash), Michael Zajac (ranked sixth in the weight throw) and the 4x400m relay team (ranked fourth) round out the top returners.

Florida State is ranked first in the men’s preseason poll, followed by No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Nebraska and No. 5 Arkansas. Seven Southeastern Conference teams are ranked in the men’s preseason top-25.

Texas A&M is the top-ranked women’s squad followed by No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 BYU. Five SEC teams ranked in the women’s preseason top-25.

The SEC Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 26-28 and the NCAA Indoor Championships will be held March 12-13, both in Fayetteville, Ark. South Carolina will host the Gamecock Invitational Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Indoor Fieldhouse.