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    Justyn Knight Wins NCAA Mens Cross Country National Title, First Individual National Champion

    November 20, 2017

    Justyn KnightA hard kick over the final kilometer to distance himself from a pair of Northern Arizona contenders provided the historic finish for Justyn Knight, delivering the first individual NCAA Championship in program history.

    Knight's finish is the third top-four finish for the Vaughn, Ontario native, building off last year's runner-up performance to capture the crown in Louisville.

    "Every single experience helped me get through this race today," Knight said. "Freshman year when I got 143rd, I really cramped up bad. I fell back and gave up. I used that experience today when I started cramping up.

    "My sophomore year when Edward Cheserek and Patrick Tiernan pulled away from me, I let them go and tried to stay back in my comfort zone. That kind of came back to help me over here. Last year, with Tiernan, I tried to keep the gap as close as possible, but toward the finish I let him go a little bit more. I brought that experience over here. Every single year that I've experienced NCAA Championships it all molded together in creating this championship."

    Paige Stoner also delivered history for the women. Her 17th place finish was the best finish by a woman in program history, becoming just the second ever All-American for the 'Cuse women.

    Knight hung around the leaders for the duration of the meet, lurking in sixth for the majority of the first portion of the race. Between the fourth and sixth kilometer, a group of four broke off in front, with Knight once again making his move toward the front.

    With two kilometers left, he dropped Alabama's Gilbert Kigen and pulled past Northern Arizona's Tyler Day with one kilometer left. Over the final distance he pushed past NAU's Matthew Baxter to secure the title, crossing the 10k distance in 29:00.1.

    Knight finishes his senior cross country season unbeaten, winning the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, ACC Championship, NCAA Northeast Regional and now the individual NCAA title.

    As a team, the Syracuse men finished 13th with 406 points. Colin Bennie (56th/30:15.3), Aidan Tooker (109th/30:49.4), Philo Germano (31:04.0/142nd) and Joe Dragon (174th/31:22.3) rounded out the 'Cuse scoring. Dominic Hockenbury (31:36.3) and Iliass Aouani (32:31.3) were the other two runners for the Orange men.

    Stoner won her race by consistently hanging in the lead pack, sticking in position for the duration of the 6k race and taking 17th overall to earn All-America honors. Lauren Penney is the lone other All-American in Syracuse history, taking 29th in 2012.

    Stoner's time was 19:52.0 to lead the Orange to a 26th place finish, two spots ahead of their pre-race ranking. Shannon Malone also had a strong day, taking 73rd with a time of 20:30.0.

    Madeleine Davison (21:25.2/187th), Rachel Bonner (21:32.8/196th), Eva Scott(22:27.3/242nd), Chelsie Pennello (243rd/22:28.1) and Maggie Toczko (249th/22:55.2) rounded out the Orange competitors.

    This story originally ran on Cuse.com.