USC's Conor McCullough earns first title of NCAA track championships

USC's Conor McCullough earns first title of NCAA track championships
USC's Conor McCullough reacts after a throw in the hammer competition during the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore. (Don Ryan / Associated Press)

USC's Conor McCullough hasn't competed at the college level for the last two seasons. There wasn't much competition for him Wednesday when he won the hammer throw at the NCAA track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

McCullough beat second-place finisher Matthias Tayala of Kent State by more than 17 feet. Tayala, the defending champion, threw 234 feet 9 inches while McCullough recorded the longest throw in college this year with a mark of 252-4.

It was the longest toss by a college athlete since Georgia's Andras Haklits threw 257-11 in May 2002.

Born in the United States to the son of an Irish hammer throw Olympian, McCullough excelled at Chaminade High before choosing to attend Princeton coming out of high school. He attended Princeton from 2010 to 2012, setting the school record in the hammer throw and being named the 2012  U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Assn. East Region indoor field athlete of the year.

McCullough left Princeton and enrolled at USC last year, but was unable to compete because of NCAA transfer rules. Instead, he focused on his academics and on preparing his appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, which was granted.

With the victory, McCullough has won his last 14 collegiate hammer throw competitions and 15 of 17 in his college career. He is also on the Bowerman men's watch list for the award given to the nation's top college track and field athlete.

His toss of 252-4 is his career best at USC, but didn't quite match the personal best of 253-3 he set at the Edmonton International Track Classic last year. McCullough is second on the USC all-time list behind Balazs Kiss, who made a 1996 championship throw of 265-3 -- the NCAA track and field championship record.