Justyn Knight of St. Michael’s College School located in Toronto, Ontario is enjoying his final year of high school. He is the Canadian Jr. Cross Country Champion. He won the championships in Vancouver, BC against a very strong field, which included Ben Flanagan of Michigan State University as well as Mike Tate of Antigonish Track Club, Joel Deschiffart of Trinity Western University, Stephan St-Martin at Coureur Nordique, Isaac Dobos with Toronto Olympic Club, Windsor Legion’s Miles Matthews as well as Thomas Getty from the University of Victoria.
Knight was a competitive basketball player, but chose to specialise in athletics for his final year. Doing so proved fruitful as he went undefeated during the cross-country season. Knight capped his cross-country season with the club championships victory as well as his victory at the Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association (OFSAA) championships.
Christopher Kelsall: Canadian Cross Country and OFSAA champion, being named to compete for Canada at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Cross Country Championships (NACAC) in Trinidad. How does that sound?
Justyn Knight: It’s an honour to be able to compete for my country.
CK: What were your expectations going into this season and school year? Did you think you would go undefeated?
JK: My expectations going into the school year was fairly high. After going through that feeling of disappointment during last year’s cross-country season, I swore to myself that I would no longer settle for mediocre performance and strive to go undefeated in the 2013 school season.
Although I had the goal of going undefeated, I knew it was going to be hard. Other runners such as Graham Hansel, Ben Preisner, Farah Abdulkarim, and Isaac Dobos were all having impressive seasons as well, and surely all of them had the same goal in mind. Many people shared different opinions on how successful my season would go, both positive and negative. Knowing this I became more dedicated towards my training which helped me become more successful. In order to be successful you have to work hard and not make excuses to why things didn’t go your way; when I realised this, I was able to mature as an athlete.
CK: How did that hard work manifest itself?
JK: I had to learn how to be able to keep up a fast pace by myself. Although it took a while I was able to adjust.
CK: Apparently you are a fan of basketball. Which is your favourite NBA team?
JK: My favourite team in the NBA right now is the Indiana Pacers. I like how they play team basketball and the defensive intensity each player brings to the game. It reminds me of my team at St. Mikes and how successful we were with the talent that we had.
CK: Are you still playing at any level, or did you have to give up the game?
JK: Currently I am not playing any level of basketball. My last organised basketball game was in 2012 with an AAU team from Toronto called Northern Kings. We travelled across America to display our talent in front of top D1 coaches. It was a great way to end my basketball career and I enjoyed it.
CK: What position did you play and how or who did you model your style of play after?
JK: I played point guard for the majority of my high school career. I would like to think that I modelled my game after Rajon Rondo. I was more of a “floor general” looking to get my teammates good opportunities to score, rather than concerning myself with how many baskets I could score myself. One thing a great coach told me in my basketball career was “It doesn’t matter who scores, as long as we score”. I have brought that motto with me with every team sport I played on or activity I was involved in.
CK: Do you have a preference of running disciplines?
JK: I don’t really have a preference between cross-country and track. However I prefer both over indoor track.
CK: Which distance in outdoor track do you think you will specialise in, during your varsity career?
JK: In my varsity career I think that I expect to pursue becoming a 5k runner and a 1500m runner. I would also like to try a 10k race. If I do well in it I may pursue that as well.
CK: What subject will you pursue in university?
JK: I hope to go into the social sciences and later on get my law degree.
CK: Have you had to fend off US college recruiters yet? Who would you like to run for?
JK: I am still unsure about where exactly I want to go. However wherever I commit it (whether it’s in the states or Canada) will be the school that demonstrates the best combination of academics and athletics, as well as having a coach that has the same type of coaching style as my high school coach .