Barton wins national title as MSSU kicks off NCAA championships

May 23—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.

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.

In other events Thursday, 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 was slated to race in the preliminaries of the 400-meter hurdles on Thursday night. Results of that race were not available at press time.

Friday's events will include the men's discus throw with Barton defending his 2023 title. He will be joined by redshirt freshman Gabe Ford and redshirt sophomore Cedric Pearson in the event.

Gillum also returns to compete in the women's discus along with sophomore Kirsten Womack.

Pigg and senior Malachi Pipkin will wrap up the second day of competition Friday as they work to advance to the finals in the 110-meter hurdle preliminary.

There are 18 Lions competing in 13 events.

The men are ranked No. 4, the women No. 12.