Butler’s Drew Griffith breaks national 1,600-meter record at PIAA track championships

Friday, May 24, 2024 | 11:46 AM

SHIPPENSBURG — Butler’s Drew Griffith has won big races all over the country this year, including one a few weeks ago at the iconic Penn Relays, but the Butler star arrived Friday at Seth Grove Stadium having never won there.

He fixed that in record time.

Griffith broke a national high school record in the 1,600 meters with a time of 3 minutes, 57.08 seconds that thrilled a grandstand filled with spectators celebrating his remarkable run at the PIAA track and field championships. The crowd of around 5,000 cheered as Griffith sprinted to the finish line with outstretched arms.

His winning time was more than three seconds faster than the previous record of 3:59.51 set in 2001 by future Olympian Alan Webb of Reston, Va.

“It’s always just the goal to win at the state meet,” Griffith said, “but I definitely had that number on my mind. To be able to come out here and pull that off is just a dream come true.”

The WPIAL had three gold medal winners. Joining Griffith were Mt. Lebanon’s Logan St. John Kletter in the 3A girls 1,600 meters and Derry junior Sophia Mazzoni in the 2A girls javelin.

The 1,600 meters was the only track event with finals on Friday. Medals were awarded for half of the field events. The two-day meet resumes Saturday morning.

The national record was the second for Griffith, a Notre Dame recruit who broke a high school indoor 2-mile record in March. He has won races from Boston to Los Angeles, but adding his first PIAA gold medal was important to him.

He was 0 for 3 on this track.

A year ago, Griffith finished second in the 1,600 meters and third in the 3,200. As a sophomore, he took fourth in the 3,200.

“I kind of looked at this meet as something that was kind of hard to crack open,” Griffith said. “I’ve come here and maybe not performed as well as I’ve wanted to in the past. To be able to come out here and finally make it happen is awesome.”

He credited a change in mindset for his success this time. He decided to focus more on enjoying the overall state meet experience. He’ll try to add another gold medal in the 3,200 meters Saturday morning.

“Last year was a really tough one for me,” Griffith said. “I really beat myself up over that. The 3,200 and the 1,600 weren’t what I wanted, but this year has kind of been a new mentality. I’m coming out here to have fun, and I’m really enjoying it.”

With Griffith leading the way, WPIAL runners combined for a remarkable 1-2-3-4-5 finish in the 1,600-meter race in Class 3A boys. Ringgold’s Ryan Pajak was second (4:04.72) with Hampton’s Dale Hall third (4:06.90), Fox Chapel’s Roman Gwin fourth (4:07.06) and North Allegheny’s Jack Bertram fifth (4:07.17).

Griffith’s margin of victory was nearly eight seconds. Webb, replying to an Instagram post by MileSplit, congratulated him on breaking the National Federation of State Athletic Associations record.

Webb wrote: “Congratulations Drew!! Wow!”

Griffith also was recognized online by Archbishop Wood graduate Gary Martin, who owned the previous PIAA championship record since 2022 at 4:01.56.

It was obvious that Griffith was out to break records from the start. He ran the first lap around the 400-meter track in 58.04 seconds and the second in 1:00.79.

“At the 800 mark, I just felt really good,” said Griffith, who completed his third lap with 2:59.10 on the clock. “When you come through that third lap and you’re still on pace, you know it’s possible. That’s just one more lap.”

His fourth lap was his fastest yet. He circled the track in 57.89 seconds and even had time to celebrate mid stride as his neared the finish line.

“I saw 3:57 when I crossed the line,” Griffith said. “And that feeling — that rush of accomplishment that just came over me — was unbeatable.”

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.


More High School Sports

Seniors help ‘make a name’ for Chartiers Valley softball
After trip to WPIAL final, Chartiers Valley girls lacrosse vows to maintain winning performance
Thomas Jefferson’s state softball title capped special season in memory of former coach
Thomas Jefferson baseball team reflects on 2024 season
Zach Wuenschell, Mia March earn Brentwood’s top senior athletes awards