Barton wins national title as MSSU kicks off NCAA championships

May 24—EMPORIA, Kan. — The Missouri Southern State University men's and women's track and field teams kicked off their bids for national championships on Thursday at the three-day NCAA Division II outdoor track and field national championships at Emporia State University.

Peyton Barton, last year's NCAA Division II runner-up in the hammer throw and the 2023 national champion discus thrower, added another national title to his resume by winning the hammer throw in Emporia on Thursday.

Barton threw a personal best 68.71 meters on his second of three first-round attempts in the hammer throw to advance to the nine-man final in first place, ahead of Washburn's Braden Rose, who also set a personal best in the first round with a 66.55-meter toss.

Barton fouled on all three of his attempts in the finals, but his first-round throw of 68.71 meters held for the win.

Thursday's results

Lion senior Connor Boyd finished just out of the nine-man finals in 10th place with a 60.13-meter throw on his first attempt.

Lion junior Jon Watts, the MIAA men's champion long jumper, struggled Thursday, fouling on all three of his first-round attempts.

On the women's side, MSSU freshman thrower Briar Gillum logged a 53.16-meter toss on her first throw, which was good for sixth place. On her second attempt, Gillum fouled and fell to 11th place. She improved with a 53.59-meter throw on her final attempt but failed to reach the final round and finished in 11th place.

Hurdler JaDarius Pigg failed to make the finals in the 400-meter hurdles after finishing Thursday's preliminaries in 19th place with a time of 1:18.34.

Friday's results

MSSU captured three of the five top spots in the men's discus on Friday. Barton, the defending national champion, entered the finals round in fourth place after a 53.34-meter toss in the preliminary round. He leapfrogged over teammates Cedric Pearson and Gabe Ford in the last of three finals throws with a 54.93-meter toss to finish third.

Pearson logged a personal best 54.88 meters on his second throw of the first round and entered the finals in third place. That throw held through the finals for fourth place. Ford captured the final spot in the nine-man finals with a 52.65-meter throw on his second attempt. He topped that mark with a 54.40-meter throw on his second attempt in the finals and finished fifth overall.

Gillum returned to compete in the women's discus Friday along with freshman Kirsten Womack.

Womack qualified for the finals with a 48.45-meter throw, which landed her in fifth place going into the finals. That throw remained her best, and Womack finished in eighth place. Gillum finished 19th with a 43.14-meter toss.

Pigg and senior Malachi Pipkin wrapped up the second day of competition Friday in the 110-meter hurdles preliminaries. Results of that event were not available at press time.

Through four of 21 events, the MSSU men were in first place with 25 points Friday. The Pittsburg State women's squad led with 34 points through five of 21 events.

Events continue Saturday with several Lions competing for national prominence. Brendan Rozier and Garrett Strange will compete in the men's javelin. Gillum and Samariae Bonds will compete in the women's shot put, and Bastien Franck will compete in the men's pole vault.

Taris Jackson and Caleb Manning will represent the Lions in the men's triple jump, and Adrianne Casey, Keilee Johnson and Mackenzie Mayer will all compete in the women's javelin.

Ford and Pearson will compete in the men's shot put, and if Pigg or Pipkin make the finals, they will compete in the 110-meter hurdles.

There are 18 Lions competing in 13 events.