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Four Syracuse track athletes prepare for NCAA Indoor Championships

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Track and Field: NCAA Indoor Championships
Justyn Knight hopes to emerge from the shadow of King Ches and complete his own double
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While most of the attention is focused on Syracuse Orange basketball this week, the track and field team has four athletes competing for national titles. The Orange will be in College Station, Texas looking to finish off the 2018 indoor season on a high note. Let’s take a look at the four athletes who will be competing this weekend:

Paige Stoner- 5,000m (Friday 8:25 pm Central)

Paige has the 9th-fastest time in the country in the event (15:44.04), but she’s only seven seconds behind the 3rd seed. It’s expected that this race will come down to Karissa Schweizer of the Missouri Tigers and Ednah Kurgat of the New Mexico Lobos as they are over twenty seconds faster than the rest of the field. Both of them are entered in the 3,000m on Saturday so it’s likely that this race isn’t going to be all out and that is something Stoner must prepare for. It’s been an outstanding year for Paige and she’ll be looking to finish it as an All-American.

Angelo Goss and Matt Moore- 60m hurdles (Semis-Friday 6:55 pm Central. Final- Saturday 5:10 pm Central)

Syracuse’s two transfers are among the 15 athletes looking to dethrone defending champion Grant Holloway of the Florida Gators. Goss’ 7.69 ranks as the 6th fastest in the field while Moore’s 7.74 at the ACC Championships puts him 11th. Holloway is the heavy favorite as he holds the fastest time in the world this season but if Goss and Moore can advance to the final, the Orange will earn points for the team competition. Last year Syracuse was tied for 10th with 20 points and they are looking to improve on that total this weekend.

Goss and Moore’s coach Dave Hegland was honored this week as the Northeast Region’s Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA. Hegland has done a wonderful job developing the sprint/hurdle group at Syracuse and the Orange and his athletes will be looking to make an impact in College Station.

Justyn Knight (5,000m Friday 8:05pm Central. 3,000m Saturday 6:10pm Central)

Justyn enters this weekend with plans on racing two events for the first time at a NCAA Championship meet. He’s successfully completed this double the last three years at the ACC Championships and he’s considered the favorite in both this weekend. It won’t be easy to take two individual titles but the Northeast Region’s Track Athlete of the Year is ready for the challenge.

In the 5k, Justyn has the 2nd fastest seed time behind Mike Tate of Southern Utah and he’ll have to contend with the tactics which may arise with three schools having multiple entries in the race (Campbell, Alabama and BYU). This season Justyn has shown the ability to deploy better racing tactics and it’s expected that he will lurk just off the lead until he’s ready to make his final push.

Should Justyn come back in the 3k he’ll have to contend with Stanford Cardinal standout Grant Fisher who knocked him off last year at the NCAA Outdoor meet. Fisher’s the one athlete who can match Justyn’s speed over the last few laps and he’ll be looking to stay in range until the final lap. If these two go head to head again, I’d expect Justyn to start his move with at least two laps to go. For those who care about predictions, both Letsrun.com and FloTrack are picking Justyn to complete the 3k/5k sweep and I think they are correct. Justyn often refers to leaving a legacy and this is his opportunity to cement that legacy on the national level.

Coverage of the meet will be available on ESPN3. Good luck to Paige, Angelo, Matt and Justyn as they compete this weekend.