Syracuse Orange standout Justyn Knight unleashed a devastating kick in the final straight to win the 2016 Nuttycombe Invitational Friday afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin. Knight made sure that he wasn’t going to get edged out in the final 100 meters like he was last year, waiting for the right moment to take the lead.
His move left behind other All-Americans Futsum Zienasellaisse from Northern Arizona and Sean McGorty of Stanford. In winning the race in a time of 23:53, Knight showed why he’s a national title contender this fall. You can see how he was able to ease up in the final meters and it shows that Knight’s tactical approach is improving. He was patient enough to stay in good position until he could make that final move.
Unfortunately for the Orange men, they were unable to put together a strong enough race from their 5 scorers to win their third team title in a row in Madison. Northern Arizona dominated with a score of 78 points to finish 1st ahead of Stanford (114), BYU (144), and Syracuse (167). Despite the defeat, the Orange seemed to understand that lessons could be learned from the meet as they head into the Championship portion of the season.
After Knight, the rest of the Orange finishers were Colin Bennie (14th in 24:09), Philo Germano (28th in 24:24), Joel Hubbard (38th in 24:28), Iliass Aouani (86th in 24:53), Adam Visokay (87th in 24:54), and making his debut Aidan Tooker (166th in 25:48). While the team result was disappointing, Syracuse was in 2nd place as a team at 4k and both Hubbard and Germano closed strongly, so there are positives to take from the meet. Unfortunately Aouani dropped from 13th to 86th over the final 2k and that pushed the Orange out of the top 2. If Syracuse is able to win a title again in 2016, they will someone to step up and give them a 5th man to go with the top 4. Aouani has shown the ability to hang with the top, he’s just got to keep it together for the full race. As the team mentioned above, they have a month to get things where they want them to be at NCAA’s. Coach Chris Fox says that it’s on him to get the team ready to roll in 5 weeks.
The Orange women finished 20th as a team in Madison. Like the men, there were some ups and downs individually as the team didn’t finish as well as they could have overall. Leading the way for the women was Paige Stoner (44th place in 20:56), followed by Emma Wilson (91st in 21:19), McKenzie Altmayer (92nd in 21:20), Mary Malone (99th in 21:24), Alexandra Cooper (128th in 21:44), Sydney Leiher (178th in 22:25), and Madeleine Davison (205th in 24:02). Hopefully for the Orange, Davison’s finish is a matter of illness/off day instead of an injury. The freshmen has been the best runner so far, and Syracuse will need her and Leiher to run stronger the last three meets.
The Orange were the 4th-highest finisher from the Northeast region, but may have picked up a key at-large point by finishing ahead of Georgetown (and let’s face it we celebrate every SU victory over the Hoyas). The women will get another chance at crucial points at the ACC meet where they will battle Virginia and Notre Dame behind expected winner NC State.