Can you feel it in the air? That’s right Syracuse Orange fans, we’re heading into Fall and that can only mean one thing- yes, cross-country season is finally upon us. While the first couple of meets are sort of a preseason for the Cuse squads, it’s time to bring back last year’s successful “Get to Know Your Orange Runner”. This year, alums Margo Malone and Martin Hehir have contributed their thoughts as we look at the anticipated top 10 from the men’s and women’s squads.
We’ll start things off today with Sydney Leiher and Justyn Knight.
Name: Sydney Leiher
Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio
High School: Beavercreek
NCAA Northeast Regional- 15th
ACC Championships- 24th
Wisconsin Meet of Champions- 44th
Coast-to-Coast Battle- 13th
Spiked Shoe Invitational- 5th
Margo Says: ”Sydney has been an instrumental runner for Syracuse the past three cross country seasons. She is competitive and always steps up when it matters most. This year proceeds a tremendous indoor track season where she ran a personal best in the mile of 4:36. Sydney will combine her speed, strength, and talent to help lead the team in her final cross country season at Syracuse. “
Sydney will be asked to lead the Orange women in 2016. She’s the most experienced team member and has made very some strong gains over her Syracuse career. Last year, she finished 68th at the NCAA meet, an improvement of over 100 spots from 2014. With a young roster, Leiher can provide a steady presence in the top 7 and with her continued improvement she’s an All-American candidate this season.
Name: Justyn Knight
Hometown: Vaughan, Ontario
High School: St. Michael’s
NCAA Championships: 4th
NCAA Northeast Regional: 1st
ACC Championships: 2nd
Wisconsin Meet of Champions: 2nd
Coast-to-Coast Battle: 1st
Martin Says: “Justyn is the guy who makes the rest of the team better by raising the bar in every workout. He knows how to enjoy the process, and also how turn on his game face when it comes time to compete. After a couple years of learning, he's ready to handle being one of the NCAA's best athletes.”
I’m running out of ways to talk about Justyn. In two years, he’s established himself as one of the best distance runners in the NCAA. It’s going to be a challenge for him to top last season, but he’ll be asked to lead the Orange as they look to win the 2016 NCAA Championship. With Thomas Curtin from Virginia Tech gone, Knight will be the heavy favorite to win the ACC title, and he’ll be one of a handful or runners in contention for the NCAA Individual title in November. Only halfway through his Syracuse career, Justyn has laid claim to the title of Best Distance Runner in school history, and his best days still lie ahead. It’s going to be exciting to see what he accomplishes next.
Keep an eye on TNIAAM this fall as we follow the Syracuse Orange cross-country teams throughout their season.