Butler’s Drew Griffith breaks PIAA championship record in 3,200, but national mark must wait

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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 6:59 PM


SHIPPENSBURG — Drew Griffith won his second PIAA gold medal and broke a state championship record Saturday, but unlike a day earlier, the Butler star didn’t take a run at any national marks.

He’ll save that for summer.

The senior won his second title in two days at the PIAA track championships, winning the 3,200 meters by more than 10 seconds at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium. He later ran the anchor leg of the 3,200-meter relay and willed his Butler teammates onto the medal stand with a sixth-place finish.

“I was trying save a little for this 4×8, trying to get my boys on the podium,” Griffith said. “I can’t complain with either race. I’m happy with how the day played out.”

Griffin won the 3,200 meters in 8 minutes, 43.72 seconds. That broke the PIAA championship record of 8:47.39 set last year by Hatboro-Horsham’s Brian DiCola. A PIAA record is normally a career milestone for runners, but expectations for Griffin are understandably higher than most.

On Friday, Griffith wowed the crowd when he broke the national high school record for the 1,600 meters, raising thoughts that the Notre Dame recruit might also try to break the 3,200-meter record in Shippensburg.

That wasn’t an option.

“After yesterday, it was kind of hard to come back from that one,” Griffith said. “The national record, you’ve definitely got to tackle when you’re fresh. So it’s a little tough.”

The 3,200-meter record kept by the National Federation of State High School Associations is 8:34.10, a number Griffith thought he might be able to break sometime later this summer.

“It’s definitely possible,” he said.

This was the finale of high school track, but his summer season is just getting started. Griffith, who has an NIL deal with New Balance, plans to run the mile Thursday in Saint Louis, will run two miles in Seattle two weeks later and will make a trip to Philadelphia for the New Balance Nationals two days after that.

A day after winning the 1,600 meters in 3 minutes, 57.08 seconds, Griffith said he woke up Friday feeling better than expected.

“I thought I was going to feel a little bit worse,” he said. “I didn’t feel amazing, but I didn’t feel bad by any means.”

In the 3,200, Griffith ran just behind Ringgold’s Jackson Pajak for the first four laps before seizing the lead on the fifth. He ran the first four laps in 4:26 and his last four in 4:17.

This is just the start of what might continue to be a record-setting career for Griffith, and the past two days cemented his place in Pennsylvania high school track history. He arrived in Shippensburg with no state titles, having gone 0 for 3 combined as a sophomore and junior, but left with his name now in the PIAA record book — twice.

“I hope people can look up to me and go out there and chase your goals,” he said. “From my freshman year, I wasn’t necessarily the best runner by any means. I was still putting in the work. I just kind of took some time, a little bit of development and a little bit of trust. After a while, I was able to kind of grow into the runner I am today.”

The WPIAL, which won 13 gold medals this year, had another strong year in distance events. The WPIAL swept all four 3,200-meter titles and won two of the 1,600s.

Mt. Lebanon senior Logan St. John Kletter also was a two-time winner, celebrating state titles in the Class 3A girls 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Mohawk’s Jaxon Schoedel won the 2A boys 3,200, and Shady Side Academy’s Chelsea Hartman won 2A girls.

They were joined as PIAA champions by Hampton’s Dale Hall (800 meters), Hempfield’s Peyton Murray (shot put), East Allegheny’s Lorenzo Fancher (triple jump), Laurel’s Tori Atkins (400), Derry’s Sophia Mazzoni (javelin), Avonworth/Northgate’s Hayzes Robinson (100) and the Fort Cherry boys 400-meter relay team.

Griffith had two golds but seemed to like the sixth-place medal he won with his relay team just as much. The team was in 10th place when he took the baton for the anchor lap, but he got them all the way to sixth.

He ran the final 800 meters in 1:50.04, which was more than two seconds faster than anyone else in the 31-team field.

“Going into that race we were definitely underdogs,” Griffith said. “But we showed out today, and I’m happy with how it played out.”

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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