Junior Taylor Knibb is not only the top runner for Cornell women’s cross country, placing first in the last two races at Penn State and Lehigh, but she is also a member of the swim team, and the U23 World Triathlon Champion.
Women’s cross country head coach Artie Smith ’96 said that a profile on Knibb is “long overdue.” He warned that learning Knibb’s accomplishments is difficult, because the only quality more outstanding than her athleticism is her humility. Sure enough, meeting Knibb, one would never know that she is a World Champion.
Knibb’s humility is disarming. On winning the U23 World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia in September, she noted, that some of the top U23 women compete in the elite grand final for women at any age group. Because the U.S. team enjoys such a wealth of talent, Knibb was able to compete in the U23 field.
Knibb, who is currently pursuing a psychology major, casually mentioned that her day usually includes waking up before dawn for a morning swim practice, attending classes and then running around 10 miles afterwards in cross-country practice, before getting to dinner and homework.
“Artie would say [my academics] are going well!” Knibb said, never one to brag. “I find it easier to study when I am more busy.”
Senior captain Gracie Todd, a Sun staff writer, commented that despite Knibb’s incredible schedule, with triathlon training and Cornell Swimming practices, Knibb brings an enthusiastic attitude.
“She has a focused but fun energy, and she is a total team player,” Todd said. “She is always encouraging the team to stick together, which has a huge impact on our team culture, especially come race day.”
Knibb’s leadership is crucial to the team energy. Assistant coach Genna Hartung ’13 called the team “a family,” adding that she came back to Ithaca for her masters so that she could continue to be part of the women’s cross-country team.
“[Knibb] will always help lift a teammate up if they’re having a rough workout day,” Todd said. “She is super supportive, and our team is better for it.”
On her source of inspiration, Knibb named her mother, who just last weekend finished third in her age group at the Ironman World Championships, a grueling race in Kona, Hawaii. Knibb’s grandfather, Joseph Simon ’55, played football at Cornell.
Knibb could not say what she expects her success to be in the pool, as the season starts this winter and she has not had the chance to race yet. She thanked Women’s Swimming Coach Pat Gallagher, because her swimming and cross country practice schedules sometimes conflict. “Pat is very generous to let me train.”
Knibb said that her best event in the triathlon is biking since running and swimming are such established sports, she races against less competitive bikers. Ironically enough, the two sports at which she is a top Ivy League racer can often be her shortcoming.
“Depending on the race, swimming or running is my weakness.”