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Is this the year Syracuse gets their 1st NCAA Outdoor Track champion?

The Orange have two talented athletes with great chances to win.

Cross Country: NCAA Championships
With King Ches out, Justyn Knight looks to win his 1st NCAA Individual title
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This week 13 Syracuse Orange track and field athletes head to Lexington, Kentucky in the hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Championships next month in Eugene, Oregon. While each of these athletes is hoping to make it to Eugene, two of them have legitimate NCAA title hopes.

Freddie Crittenden III and Justyn Knight are both among the favorites in their events and have an opportunity to become Syracuse’s 1st Individual NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Champion. The Orange have just one track & field individual champion in school history- Jarret Eaton won the 60m hurdles at the 2012 NCAA Indoor championship.

Crittenden enters this week’s regional with the 3rd fastest time in the country this season. His time of 13.42 seconds set a new Syracuse school record, and is faster than the winning time of 13.50 seconds of former Oregon Ducks star Devon Allen. This year another Devon, Devon Williams of the Georgia Bulldogs has the fastest seed time. Last month Freddie told me that he feels he’s still got a faster time in him, and he’s focused on running his best now that championship season is here.

Justyn Knight enters the regional meet with the fastest 5k time in the country this season. His 13:17.51 is the 4th fastest collegiate time ever and the Syracuse junior is pretty well rested having run only three races this season. Aiding Knight’s chances will be the absence of Oregon Ducks star Edward Cheserek. King Ches has a back injury and it was announced that he will not be competing, which takes one of the main competitors out of the 5k.

While Knight’s time is now 17 seconds ahead of the closest competitor, he will still have to face talented runners such as Grant Fisher of the Stanford Cardinal and Marc Scott of the Tulsa Hurricanes. Cheserek’s injury takes away the man who seems to control the distance events at NCAA Championships. Anyone who has watched the meets the last few years can tell that the other runners are always aware of King Ches and he’s usually able to control the race tempo, as he did during the NCAA Indoor 3k where he was able to hold off Justyn on the final lap.

The biggest question now will be how well Knight deals with being the favorite in his next two races. Anyone who has watched or listened to him knows that he’s not someone to back away from a challenge. He has developed the race tactics to go with his ability and that combination gives him the edge in the 5k.

Both Freddie and Justyn have been great representatives of Syracuse University. They have an outstanding opportunity in front of them over the next two meets and we hope they can finish what they’ve been working to accomplish. As long as Drake holds off on dropping any new releases, Syracuse Orange fans might get to celebrate the return of new NCAA Champions to the 315.