It's been an eventful last few days for the people of Toronto. You've had the Toronto Raptors win a Game 7, the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Auston Matthews Draft Lottery, and oh yeah, that Drake guy dropped a new album. With all that going on, it would be understandable if Syracuse Orange Track & Field star, and Toronto native, Justyn Knight was feeling good heading into his race on Sunday evening.
Knight took to the track at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford looking to establish a qualifying time in the 5k, and to hopefully hit the Olympic standard of 13:25 in the process. Last year at this meet, Knight sent notice to the rest of the NCAA that he was for real when he ran 13:34. That race helped spark a run that has seen Knight finish no lower than 6th in any NCAA competition in the last calendar year. It's a year that has included three All-America honors, three ACC Championship victories (a couple with both shoes on), and of course leading the Orange to the 2015 NCAA Championship in Cross-Country.
Heading into Sunday's race, Knight was coming off a school record performance in the 1500m the previous weekend. He was 2nd to Henry Wynne in that race, but his 3:39.23 time broke his 2015 best of 3:39.6. (and is just 3 seconds from the Olympic standard in the event). On Sunday night, against a talented field of pros and college runners, Knight finished 10th (he was the 3rd collegian) in a new Syracuse school record of 13:27.
While he was just shy of the Olympic standard, Knight's time was a 7-second improvement over last season. He'll have opportunities before the Canadian Olympic Trials in July to reach the standard. Hitting the standard, and finishing in the top 3 at the Trials, would earn Knight an opportunity to run at the Rio Games in August.
No matter what happens on the Olympic front, Knight has established himself as one of the top runners in the NCAA, with the 4th fastest 1500m time and the 3rd fastest 5k time this outdoor season. He's now in possession of four Syracuse school records, and is showing why Coach Chris Fox said he's the XC/Track team's version of Carmelo Anthony.
Justyn and the rest of the Orange will be in competition at the ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championships next weekend. We'll have a full preview before the meet, as Knight isn't the only Syracuse T&F athlete shining this Spring.