Syracuse Orange fans know that conversation in the TNIAAM Slack room can sometimes lead to longer articles on the site. Over the weekend, a discussion emerged about Justyn Knight’s place on the All-Time Greatest Syracuse Athletes list, specifically is he in the Top 10. It’s always a difficult task to try and rank athletes from different sports and different eras, but here at TNIAAM we never shy away from a challenge so let’s give it a go.
Just to set the scene, the below tweet highlights Justyn’s Syracuse accomplishments, so keep these in mind as we embark on this discussion. I’m not entertaining any discussion about Justyn’s place in terms of Syracuse or ACC distance runners because he’s tops on both of those lists. No offense to others, but you aren’t convincing me otherwise.
.@justyn_knight’s career— Syracuse XC/Track (@CuseXCTF) June 9, 2018
3 NCAA titles (2 ind. 1 team)
16 ACC titles (11 ind. 5 team)
4x NCAA runner-up
48 points at #ncaaTF champions Championships pic.twitter.com/J3WeRqpAk3
Let that soak in for a minute and let’s brainstorm some of the top Orange athletes I think need to be included in this conversation based upon their collegiate accomplishments (and you’ll get an opportunity to add to this group in the comments).
Football: Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Vic Hanson
Basketball: Dave Bing, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Coleman, Hakim Warrick
Lacrosse: Gaits, Powells, Tom Marechek, Tim Nelson, Ric Beardsley, John Galloway, Joel White
Olympic Sports: Gene Mills, Alex Bono, Myer Prinstein, Shannon Taylor, Felisha Legette, Katie Rowan, Jenna Caira
From this list I’m narrowing it down to this top 10 and not ranking them any further. The Powells, The Gaits (if you can split either group into individuals and rank them accordingly be my guest), Dwight Freeney, Justyn Knight, Gene Mills, Derrick Coleman, Jim Brown, Carmelo Anthony, Ernie Davis, and Vic Hanson. (Note-I wanted to include at least one representative from the Syracuse women’s sports, but at this point I just think it would be a token inclusion. I think it would be better to do a separate list at a later time).
Justyn needs to be included because he was every bit the “Carmelo Anthony of the distance program” as his Coach Chris Fox called him. Knight joined a rising Syracuse program and was instrumental in pushing them to the 2015 National Championship in Cross-Country. He came to Syracuse with high expectations and he exceeded them by a healthy margin.
Do me a favor and click here and look at his track performances at Syracuse. In every race in his collegiate track career he finished in the top 10, including last year’s World Championships. Impressive stuff right? Well click on over to his cross-country page and see that after his Freshman season, Justyn finished in the top 5 in every other race his final three years winning 10 of the 14 races he entered. I don‘t care what sport you’re talking about that’s some impressive shit right there.
Each of the athletes I’d place in the Syracuse All-Time Top 10 had seasons where they were at the top of their sport. Justyn just concluded one of those seasons and when you take all that he accomplished during his Orange career, he’s absolutely deserving of his inclusion among the greats.
Please feel free to use the comments to tell us who's missing, or how you’d rank them.