Track & Field

Justyn Knight finishes 3rd in 5000-meter national championship

Courtesy of SU Athletics

After two top-10 finishes the past two years, Justyn Knight notched his first medal at the outdoor track and field national championships.

Justyn Knight placed third in the 5000-meter run at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday night.

The junior finished the race with a time of 14:36.23, 63-hundredths of a second behind first-place finisher Grant Fisher of Stanford. Knight had hoped to win Syracuse’s first-ever outdoor track and field national championship. He still won first-team All-America honors.

With a race-time temperature of 55 degrees and a steady rain, the 5000-meter championship was a slower race from the beginning. Pace didn’t pick up until late, when Knight briefly took control. The Ontario, Canada, native took his first lead 10:52 into the race, after sitting in the middle of the group of competitors for the majority of the run. With four laps remaining, he passed Amon Terer of Campbell University and held onto the top spot until the 13:30 mark. The junior remained ahead of the pack as late as 14:03, but top finishers Arkansas runner Jack Bruce and Fisher eventually passed him.

“At 600 meters to go, I was getting ready to make my move,” Knight said at a post-race press conference, “and then with about 400 there was kind of a little tussle.  (It) threw off my stride and then I just tried to finish strong and the guys got the best of me at the end.

“I went into the race without a plan. I’m pretty good at adapting. That’s how you have to approach every championship race, because nobody ever predicts the race to be run in 14:35, so I was just kind of open-ended, made a move, stuck with it.”

Knight set the year’s world record in the event last month with a time of 13:17.51 at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Friday’s race times were significantly slower, a fact that can be attributed to tactics, said Frank Bergin, Knight’s high school coach.

“It looked like a race where nobody wanted to take it out hard,” Bergin said, “everybody’s just sort of waiting.”

Knight was the fifth and final Syracuse competitor to run in the championships, as his teammates ran during the first two days of events. He was the only Orange to medal during the week, with the four other Syracuse runners failing to reach the podium.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Knight said. “I think everything is a learning lesson. It wasn’t my time to win…that’s just the way it is.”


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