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MSSU's Jon Watts earns national championship in long jump as Lion men finish fifth

Mar. 10—PITTSBURG, Kan. — Missouri Southern State University junior Jon Watts had the jump of his life en route to a national championship in the long jump on Friday night at the NCAA Division II 2024 Indoor Track and Field National Championships.

Watts jumped a personal best 7.57 meters on his third attempt, topping Virginia State's Markus White, who finished second with a 7.55-meter effort. Watts' effort was the second best in MSSU indoor history.

Watts joined weight thrower Peyton Barton as national champion. Barton earned his second national title with a 22.72-meter toss on Friday and helped lead the Lions to a fifth-place finish with 29 points.

The Lions men entered the meet ranked ninth.

Pittsburg State University defended its national championship with 69 points.

On the women's side, Lions junior Mallory Huber on Friday earned All-American status with a personal best and school record 20.17 meters on her third attempt to place third in the women's weight throw as the MSSU women finished 27th with Huber's six points.

Pittsburg State University was runner up with 64.5 points, just 2.5 points behind behind national champion Adams State (Colorado) with 67 points.

On Saturday, a duo of young Lions shot putters, Gabe Ford and Cedric Pearson, added more points to the team totals, earning All-American status with fourth- and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

Ford, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, redshirt freshman, threw a personal best 18.09 meters for fourth; Pearson, a Bentonville, Arkansas, redshirt sophomore, threw 18 meters for a fifth-place finish.

Carthage senior Taris Jackson was ninth in the triple jump with a 15.13-meter leap and Marshfield sophomore Peyton McBride was 15th with a 14.18-meter effort on Saturday.

JaDarius Pigg, a Poplar Bluff sophomore, was 12th in the 60-meter hurdles with a 07.98-second performance on Friday.

MSSU opens its 2024 outdoor season on Saturday at the Richard Martin Jr. Invitational at Conway, Arkansas.