Butler senior Drew Griffith breaks national indoor high school track record in 2-mile

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Sunday, March 10, 2024 | 4:35 PM


This time it counts.

Butler senior Drew Griffith broke a national indoor track record in the 2-mile run Sunday at the New Balance Nationals Indoor in Boston, earning an honor that eluded him last month on a technicality.

Griffith beat the previous mark, which was set in 2013, by more than four seconds. He won Sunday’s race in 8 minutes, 34.91 seconds.

“It was pretty awesome,” Griffith said. “I’m super excited with how it went.”

The Notre Dame recruit also ran faster than the national record on Feb. 17 at an indoor meet hosted by his future college, but that race was held on an oversized track, so his winning time there didn’t qualify for the record book.

National indoor records must be run on a 200-meter track, and this time Griffith was on one.

“It was definitely a bummer that the first one didn’t go down in the record books,” he said. “I thought about it a little. I mean, regardless, that time would’ve stood (unofficially) as the No. 1 time. But to get my name officially on the record books is a special feeling.”

The previous record of 8:39.15 was set 11 years ago by Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey. This 2-mile record isn’t broken often. Cheserek bettered a mark of 8:40 that had stood since 1964.

“As soon as he came to the line, my phone blew up with text messages,” said Butler track coach Mike Seybert, who was glued to live video of the event. “There were countless people around here who were watching online.”

Seybert said he was confident the 2-mile record would be broken after watching Griffith complete a training session Thursday. He completed four 1,000-meter runs with times separated by two-tenths of a second.

“He just looked very smooth and relaxed and comfortable,” Seybert said. “I think he was on a little bit of a mission, saying those extra meters (in the length of Notre Dame’s track) make zero difference.”

Seybert credited Griffith’s determination and intelligence for making him an elite runner. He won a PIAA cross country title in the fall and broke the state indoor record for the mile this winter.

Gatorade named him Pennsylvania’s top boys cross country runner in January.

“When you see these kids who run at the state level or the national level, so often they’re great kids and they’re smart kids,” Seybert said. “Drew is in the top five of his graduating class, and he’s the nicest kid that you’ll ever meet.”

This was Griffith’s second time this winter running on “The Track at New Balance,” a modern indoor facility that opened in 2022. He was there in Boston last month for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, and now calls the track his favorite.

For this race, there was a row of lights around the infield that kept pace with the record time, letting spectators — and Griffith — see how he measured up with Cheserek.

“After a mile, I got ahead of them,” Griffith said. “I definitely kept my eyes out looking for those lights. Whenever it started to get tough, it was nice to look down and try to race something.”

His record-breaking run also had the help of a pace-setter for the first mile. But once that runner peeled away, Griffith was all alone, well ahead of the 12 other competitors in his heat. He won the national indoor title by 15 seconds, so the only real suspense involved breaking the record.

Along with beating Cheserek’s record time, Griffith also topped the 8-minute, 38.76-second mark he ran last month at Notre Dame.

“Numbers around 8:34-ish were definitely on my mind,” he said. “I knew I could maybe knock a couple of seconds off that 8:38 from a couple of weekends ago.”

Griffith joined his parents, Dave and Jen, for a photograph beside a digital scoreboard that declared him the national record holder.

“This,” he said, “is a great way to cap off a pretty good indoor season.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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