Syracuse Orange distance star Justyn Knight entered last night’s Stumptown Twilight Meet in Portland, Oregon looking to hit the Olympic qualifying standard in the 5k. With a talented and experienced field led by Portland native and top American distance runner Galen Rupp, the hope was that Knight could reach the 13:25.00 standard before the Canadian Olympic Trials next month.
What no one expected was for Knight to out-kick Rupp in the final lap to take the victory. Rupp, the 2012 Olympic Silver Medalist in the 10k and this year’s Olympic Trials Marathon winner, wasn’t running all-out, but he doesn’t lose many races, especially in a final-lap kick. While Knight certainly downplayed the win in his post-race interview with LetsRun.com , it’s certainly an impressive victory for the Syracuse standout.
The Cuse sophomore was disappointed in his 10th-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and last night’s result should provide a better finish to an outstanding year. Knight missed the Olympic standard as his winning time was 13:26.36, but the time established a new PR in the distance. While he has qualified for the Canadian trials, it seems unlikely that Knight would hit the Olympic standard at the meet and it might be in his best long-term interest to skip the Canadian trials to rest and prepare for the 2016-17 NCAA season.
It wasn't about time or who I beat. It was finishing like a champion. I haven't done that in months. pic.twitter.com/rYOCn957J0— Justyn Knight (@justyn_knight) June 24, 2016
Knight wasn’t the only Syracuse athlete competing in Portland last night. Adam Palamar battled the rain and won his heat in the 1500 meters in a time of 3:40.26. That time was good enough for 3rd place overall in the event, but fell short of the Olympic standard of 3:36. Like Knight, Palamar has qualified for the Canadian Trials. If he chooses to pass on that event, he also finishes his season on a strong note after a disappointing NCAA meet as his time in Portland was faster than many top collegians, including Edward Cheserek, Grant Fisher, and Blake Haney.
Above all last night’s performances should be a nice confidence boost as Knight and Palamar prepare to help the Orange defend their NCAA Cross-Country title next Fall.