Lathrop grad Riley Knott signs to UC Berkeley Track & Field as decathlete

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 8:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - What a difference a year can make. Riley Knott, a 2020 Lathrop High School graduate, used a gap year to vault him to the top of the collegiate track and field landscape.

Knott signed his national letter of intent to compete for the University of California, Berkeley’s Division I Track and Field program as a decathlete.

A year ago, Knott was recovering from a broken leg, while his senior season of track was wiped away due to the pandemic. But, maybe that combination was a blessing in disguise, as Knott previously considered taking a gap year after high school, but received initial resistance from his mother - who doubles as his track coach - Kim Kelly.

“It started out as an idea, and my mom did not take it serious when I first asked if I could take a gap year,” Knott said. “It was definitely a ‘no’ at the time when I first asked, and then I broke my leg. We started thinking about it more and more until finally senior year came up and we just kind of decided to go for it. Looking back on it, it was definitely worth it.”

Primarily a high jumper in high school, Knott took full advantage of his gap year training with Alaska Running Academy (ARA) in Anchorage. He developed skills across multiple events to the point where his scores were elite enough to earn him a Division I decathlete scholarship, tacking on nine events to his previous experience.

“Yeah..ugh..” Knott let out with both relief and exhaustion on becoming a decathlete. “I would run the 400 [meter] every once in awhile, but that was pretty much it. It definitely took a lot of time, that was what I was mostly working on my senior year; I was not fast. It is just kind of cool to see how far I have come because of that gap year.”

As a decathlete, Knott will compete in 10 different track and field events: the high jump, long jump, pole vault, javelin, shot put, discus, 110-meter hurdles, 100-meter run, 400-meter run and the 1500-meter run.

And one doesn’t just become a DI decathlete overnight, it was Knott’s dedication day-over-day that got him to signing his NLI in front of supporters at Lathrop Wednesday. And it started with the decision to move to Anchorage full-time to train with ARA.

“I have never seen anyone actually moving to Anchorage to spend literally full-time doing that,” said Alaska Running Academy Coach Rafael Echavarria, who was also a decathlete at Brigham Young University. “Decathlon is not two hours a is six to eight hours a day if you want to be good. The future is very bright for him. He has all the fundamentals, he could go to college right now and compete at that level.”

“He is a strong athlete across the events,” Coach Kelly added.

Knott will join a program led by Robyn Johnson as the Director of Track and Field, who was a five-time All-American in the triple jump at the University of Texas.

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