Editor's Note: This week, we'll be looking back at Syracuse sports in 2015 by announcing our selections for different superlatives, which were voted on by the TNIAAM staff. Today, we look at Best Male Athlete.
The choice for the Syracuse Orange Best Male Athlete of 2015 came down to four worthy finalists: Julian Buescher (Soccer), Kevin Rice (Lacrosse), Justyn Knight (XC/Track), and Rakeem Christmas (Basketball). With a National Title, two All-America honors, and an ACC Performer of the Year on his 2015 resume, Justyn Knight was our choice for the award.
Justyn Knight's 2015 started fast, literally. Last January, Knight ran a sub 4-minute mile (in his 1st race at the distance). If he hadn't been running unattached, it would have been a Syracuse school record for Knight, as he finished just ahead of teammate Martin Hehir, who is credited with the record and 1st sub-4 mile in Syracuse history. Knight's time of 3:59.57 was still good enough for a Canadian Junior Record. Here's the full race:
Knight's next competition was at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in China. His 25th place finish in the Junior Men's race was the best Canadian finish in over a decade, and was the highest of any non-African nation runner in the race.
Knight returned to Syracuse in time for the 2015 outdoor track season and he wasted no time in getting another record setting performance. At the Virginia Challenge, Knight broke the Syracuse school record in the 1500m with a time of 3:39.66.
After stumbling at the finish line of the 4x1600 at the Drake Relays, Knight turned in his best performance of the season in the 5000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Knight turned in a time of 13:34.86 which was both a Syracuse record (breaking a record which had stood since 1982), and another Canadian Junior Record (breaking a record which had stood since 1962).
We talked yesterday about Knight's 1500m race at the ACC Outdoor Championships, and his 1st ACC title, which seemed to propel him to another level. Knight finished 6th in the 5000m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and earned the 1st All-America honors of his career.
This past cross country season saw Knight deliver on the high expectations put on his shoulders. He led the Orange at each meet he participated in, with two 1st-place finishes (Battle in Beantown and NCAA Northeast Regional), two 2nd-place finishes (Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and ACC Championships) and a 4th place finish at the NCAA Championships. Knight was a key in helping to deliver the Orange's 1st NCAA title since 1951. He earned All-America Honors, and was named the ACC XC Runner of the Year.
As the calendar turns to 2016, Syracuse fans have a lot to look forward to with Knight's remaining 4 seasons of indoor track, 3 seasons of outdoor track, and 2 seasons of cross country. Congratulations to Justyn and all of our finalists for outstanding years.