Number nine on the Fizz’s Top 100 is possibly Syracuse’s greatest non-revenue athlete in the history of the university, and the only athlete on our list to win multiple NCAA championships. What’s even more impressive is that he wasn’t part of a team during these competitions. Justyn Knight owned the NCAA Track and Field landscape from 2014-2017, and that’s why he’s the first single digit on our Top 100 list.
Knight only began running cross country and track during his sophomore year in high school, but put the running world on notice when he set the Canadian junior record with a sub-four minute mile. Knight chose Syracuse over other more established cross country schools because he liked coach Chris Fox, who led SU to a top 15 finish at the NCAA championships.
Knight went on to excel at those NCAA championships, where he was a three-time individual national champion in his senior year. He won both the indoor and outdoor 5000 meter race, and also claimed the title in Cross Country.
Knight won at every big event, not just the NCAAs. He was the ACC Cross Country champion in both his junior and senior year, finished first in the indoor 3000 meter and 5000 meter ACC races from his sophomore to senior year, and also was the gold medalist in the 7000 meter at the 2015 Pan American Junior Championships. Knight won 16 ACC Championships in four years, five team titles and 11 individual titles.
Knight also was known for his “kick,” a running term meaning the ability to speed up at the end of a race.
After graduating from Syracuse an 11-time USTFCCCA All-American, with three NCAA Cross Country podium finishes and three Orange male athlete of the year awards, Knight signed a contract to run professionally for Reebok. He recently won the 3000 meter race (just under two miles) at the Millrose Games with a whopping time of 7:46:36. Knight also moonlighted as a lucky charm for the SU basketball team during the 2019-2020 season. Unfortunately, COVID snatched Knight’s chance to make an Olympic debut in the 2020 Summer Games, but keep an eye out for the Canadian rising star in 2021. The SU legend is going to make a splash worldwide.