Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
The athletic rivalry between Barton College and University of Mount Olive can be fierce at times in the competitive arena, but the two NCAA Division II colleges are using that rivalry to partner to increase the number of donors in the National Marrow Donor Program, a nonprofit organization that operates its Be The Match registry program.
The women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader Tuesday evening at Wilson Gym, Barton fans will be able to support their team in the “Be The Match Challenge” by joining the registry. When the teams met at Mount Olive on Jan. 12, Trojans fans had their chance to register as a potential donor and now it’s Barton fans’ turn. The drive is being co-sponsored by Greater Wilson Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Mount Olive.
Charlie Bedgood IV of Greater Wilson Rotary said the idea to get the rival colleges to help came during a Be The Match registration drive at Mount Olive in 2018. Barbara Kornegay, the vice president of enrollment at UMO, was instrumental in making it happen, Bedgood said.
Barton officials had already indicated a willingness to conduct a registration drive on campus and athletic director Todd Wilkinson took an active role in helping set up the “Be The Match Challenge” between the schools. Barton football head coach Chip Hester and baseball head coach Jim Chester also have been a part of the Barton drive.
“It was great. The people at Mount Olive and Barton both were great in making it happen,” Bedgood said.
Starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Barton supporters who wish to register as part of the “Be The Match Challenge” can text “BARTON” to 61474. They will get a text back to a link to the “Be The Match” website.
Furthermore, a booth will be set up on campus and every Barton student who confirms a registration will receive a T-shirt, courtesy of Greater Wilson Rotary.
Because marrow donors are accepted from the 18-to-44 age range, college students are ideal because they will remain on the registry until the age of 61.
“I think that our intent, from a registry standpoint, is that this becomes a rite of passage for students at both colleges,” said Bedgood, who added that he hopes one day to have “100-percent registration” on college campuses to help save lives.
Bedgood said that the totals for each college in the “Be The Match Challenge” will be revealed at a later date.
Both Barton teams are hoping to add to their winning streaks Tuesday. The Lady Bulldogs (19-4, 12-4 CC), who clubbed Southern Wesleyan 103-74 for their fifth straight win Saturday, are tied with Belmont Abbey for first place in Conference Carolinas. However, the Lady Trojans (14-7, 10-5 CC) are lurking in fourth place and seek revenge for Barton’s 88-71 victory at Kornegay Arena last month.
Lady Bulldogs senior Kianna Wynn just earned her third Player of the Week honor Monday after averaging 29.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in Barton’s two wins last week. She ranks third all-time in scoring at Barton with 1,961 points.
The Bulldogs (17-7, 10-4 CC), who have won three in a row, are in third place, two games behind Emmanuel. Mount Olive (11-13, 9-5 CC) are right behind Barton, which won 91-79 in the season’s first meeting between the archrivals.
Led by sophomore Jake Kakar’s 15.0 points per game, the Bulldogs have four players averaging double figures in scoring.
Both Barton teams will finish out the regular season with conference games at Lees-McRae (Feb. 16), King (Feb. 23) and Limestone (Feb. 26).