Lions, Gorillas compete in first day of D2 track and field championships

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May 25—After finishing as the top team in the nation in the 2023 NCAA Division II Men's Indoor Track and Field Championships earlier this year, Pittsburg State University kicked off this year's outdoor championships. PSU was hoping to defend its 2022 outdoor championship, while No. 7 Missouri Southern hoped to climb in national prominence as the first day of the three-day meet got underway on Thursday in Pueblo, Colo.

In the men's long jump, Pitt State sophomore Cordell Tinch finished as national champion and did so in remarkable fashion.

PSU junior Henry Kiner was in first place after the first round with a best jump of 7.97 meters after the first three jumps. Lion junior Jon Watts entered the final round of three jumps tied for eighth place (7.49 meters) with Tinch. Both Watts and Tinch recorded that mark on their first jumps, but both fouled on their following two jumps and the two squeaked into the finals round with Kiner.

In the finals round, Watts leapt to fourth with a 7.70-meter jump on his first attempt. Tinch was the next jumper and moved past Watts to tie Kiner (7.97 meters), but Kiner held onto first by virtue of having one less foul. Tinch's jump also moved Watts to fifth place.

Tinch overtook Kiner for first place in the second jump of the finals with an 8.16-meter leap that eclipsed a meet record set in 2006. The final jump saw Watts fall to sixth place and Kiner to third after Azusa Pacific's Jermel Jones leapt 8.10 meters. to claim second-place behind Tinch.

Junior Peyton Barton logged MSSU's best performance in day one with a national runner-up finish in the men's hammer throw. The McDonald County High School alum fouled on his first attempt, but moved into second place with his third attempt (64.22 meters). Teammate Connor Boyd, also a junior, finished sixth in the event with a 62.47-meter toss. Boyd also fouled on his first attempt but logged his best throw on his second try. Pittsburg State senior Konner Swenson finished 15th (59.23 meters).

After the completion of five events on Thursday, Pittsburg State sophomore Hunter Jones was in fifth place in the men's decathlon with 3,826 points — 286 points behind the leader. Jones' best event Thursday was the high jump (2.07 meters) where he earned 868 points and finished second. The decathlon concludes with the final five events on Friday.

The Gorillas' 4x100-meter relay team (Tevin Wright-Rose, Dre'shaun Sanders, Makai Blades and Xavier Carmichael) qualified for Saturday's finals by finishing second in their heat, at 39.62 seconds. Carmichael also advanced to Saturday's finals in the 100-meter run with a second-place finish in his preliminary heat (10.39 seconds). Wright-Rose failed to qualify for the finals after finishing 16th overall with a time of 10.53 seconds.

In the women's hammer throw, Missouri Southern sophomore Samariae Bonds finished 19th (49.87 meters) for the No. 16 Lions. She will look to improve on that finish in the shot put on Saturday as the top-ranked entrant going into the event. Pittsburg State freshman Abby Lasiter was 20th (49.38 meters).

Sophomore Mattie Flanagan is currently in fifth place after four events in the women's heptathlon with 3,200 points for the No. 7 Gorillas. She is 394 points out of first place. Her best event Thursday was in the high jump, where she finished fifth with a 1.65-meter jump and earned 795 points. The final three events will be Friday.

PSU freshman Taniya Looney finished third in her heat in the 100-meter prelims with a time of 11.61 seconds, which was the eighth fastest time and good enough for a spot in Saturday's finals.

Missouri Southern junior Chardae Overstreet did not make the finals in the 400-meter dash after finishing 12th in the field of 23 with a time of 54.13 seconds.

After Thursday's events Pittsburg State was in first place with 16 points and Missouri Southern followed closely with 14 second-place points.

Neither MSSU or PSU scored any points in finals on Thursday on the women's side.