Justyn Knight downplays pressure, Bowerman watchlist recognition

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 22, 2018 at 10:47 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmerman Justyn Knight, a cross country champion, is already the most decorated Syracuse distance runner of all time. But one championship is not enough.“He still has a lot that he has left to accomplish,” Colin Bennie, his teammate and close friend said. “If anything, he’s even hungrier to keep going with it and do even better than he did this fall, which will be tough to do.”All eyes are on Knight, including those of the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, which hands out the Bowerman Award — the Heisman Trophy of collegiate track and field. Knight is one of 10 athletes on the award’s preseason watch list.Knight is the only distance runner on the list. Syracuse head coach Chris Fox said this is because the award goes to athletes who “accumulate titles,” and distance runners usually only participate in one event.No Syracuse athlete has ever won the Bowerman Award, which started in 2009, or even finished in the top three. Knight could be the one to change that.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Before it used to kind of get in my head,” Knight said. “I’d think it’s cool and I’d care exactly who’s watching me, but at this point in time, it’s really cool to be nominated for awards like that, but I know I have to stay focused and do what I got to do. Keep winning, keep improving my times, and the awards will always be waiting there.”Knight is used to all the national attention. When he started at SU, he was regarded as one of the top freshman distance runners. Then, the hype put pressure on him, but now he says he uses it as motivation.Part of the pressure stems from his cross-country gold medal from the fall, when he won the men’s Division I national title. He now has a target on his back.“Even though I won,” Knight said, “I know a lot of guys now want to beat me and take that No. 1 spot. I’m just going into the season hoping to keep up the good pace and perform just as well on the track as I did in cross country.”Fox is not worried about the award affecting Knight’s training, attitude, or diet as the season approaches.“He likes that stuff,” Fox said. “Some people that would bother, but he likes it. He thrives working off of that kind of pressure.”Fox said that the only negative of being nominated for the Bowerman is that to win it, “you can’t lose (an event). If you lose, you’re pretty much done.”Last year, Knight finished third in the 5,000-meter at the NCAA Outdoor Championship and won the 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter races in the ACC Indoor Championship. This spring, Knight will head toward the postseason seeking to add to his cross-country title from the fall.“He’s going to have three or four chances to win NCAA titles,” Fox said. “I’d like to at least see him get one, maybe two, he probably wants to get three or four. I want him to be real competitive at the NCAA championships. Last year was more about time, this year’s more about winning.” Commentslast_img read more