Behind ‘out of body experience,’ Justyn Knight wins NCAA individual title

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ He went “all out” in the final 100 meters to create a gap between himself and Northern Arizona’s Matthew Baxter.  He knew he wanted to finish with a kick because he wasn’t in enough of a physical state to lead, he said. Before he crossed the finish line, Knight took a peek to his left. He saw his coach, Chris Fox, who smiled at him. He said he heard his mother, too, which helped propel him past everyone else.In his final strides, Knight looked up to the sky and brushed his hands across his chest to reveal the name of the team he’s come to define. After he crossed the finish line with an official time of 29:00.1, Knight hugged Baxter and Tyler Day, both Northern Arizona runners whom he passed on the straightaway (The Lumberjacks took the team championship with 74 points). Minutes after the race, the cramp still lingered as Knight hugged Fox, who promised him at the beginning of his career a team and individual title. In 2015, Knight helped SU win the former. Saturday, he won the latter. Next, Knight found Herman Frazier, Syracuse’s senior deputy athletic director, and walked over to embrace him. Frazier helped led the United States to a gold medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. The moment between Knight and Frazier marked the conclusion of Knight’s four-year career at SU. Frazier told him how proud he was considering how hard Knight fought to reach this point. Published on November 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Justyn Knight had a cramp. It was four kilometers into the 10-kilometer NCAA Championship and Knight, the most decorated runner in Syracuse history, was hovering around sixth place. Twice he had finished within the top four of the national championship, but he felt a knot in his stomach. Knight did not relent Saturday morning at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park. He stayed within striking distance the whole race, several strides from the leaders. He was well aware that he had never captured the one thing that had eluded him: an individual title. Saturday morning was his final chance. Then he weathered the cramp and kicked into high gear. He wasn’t letting his senior year end by “wimp(ing) out,” he said.“I was just sitting in third or second place,” Knight said. “And when I got to the straightaway (with 300 meters left), I just had an out of body experience and said, ‘You know, Justyn, you’re going to look back at this and if you don’t go right now, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.’ So I just did that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Knight said he often spoke with Frazier and Floyd Little, a three-time All-American running back at Syracuse in the 1960s, about running in college. Knight said they guided him to where he is today.That journey started with a 143rd-place finish in the NCAA Championships of Knight’s freshman year. His sophomore season, he climbed 139 spots to finish fourth and lead his team to its first NCAA title. And after last year’s second-place finish, he wanted more.On Saturday, Knight finally won the title he spent four years chasing. “I’ve come really close too many times,” Knight said. “It’s just really heartwarming to bring it home for Syracuse.” Commentslast_img read more