Butler’s Drew Griffith sets course record at Tri-State cross country event

Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 7:26 PM

Butler junior Drew Griffith was hoping to set the course record at Cal (Pa.) during the Tri-State Cross Country Invitational on Thursday.

He thought he missed the mark by five seconds.

Well, he was mistaken. He broke the course mark by nine seconds after he ran a 15:32.56 in the Class 3A race. The record of 15:41 was held by Mt. Lebanon’s Patrick Anderson. The meet record still is held by McGuffey’s Jeff Weiss of 15:30 in 2005 on a different course.

Griffith, who won this race in 2021, said he now will focus on the meet record at the WPIAL championship Oct. 27 at Cal (Pa.).

“I was just trying to train for next week and get a win,” Griffith said. “I felt pretty good. I’m going after the course record next week.”

Griffith started fast and took the lead from the gun and maintained his advantage throughout the race.

“Leading from the start was the gameplan,” Griffith said. “Winning this a second time feels better than the first because I ran faster.”

North Allegheny sophomore Jack Bertram was second, and Peters Township senior Brett Kroboth was third.

Rounding out the top five were North Allegheny seniors Jackson Pajak and Gregory Kossuth.

North Allegheny boys and girls were the Class 3A team champions.

Mt. Lebanon juniors Logan St. John Kletter and Caroline Adams finished one-two in the girls race. Kletter’s winning time was 18:36.19.

“I was more proud of my time than the win,” Kletter said. “I had a certain strategy I followed, and it seemed to work. I was just going to hang with the pack and go at the end. It was my (personal record) on this course.”

Bethel Park’s Jenna Lang placed third. She was followed by five North Allegheny runners – Robin Kucler, Eva Kynaston, Grace Rowley, Erin McGoey and Wren Kucler.

Latrobe sophomore Emerson Skatell placed 10th, and Penn-Trafford junior Amelia Barilla was 11th.

First-time winner

Uniontown senior Mason Stewart was hoping to run under 17 minutes, but he shocked himself by winning his first big race in an amazing time of 16:37.12, edging Hopewell senior Dom Flitcraft (16:39.91) and Elizabeth Forward junior Patrick Burgos (16:43.37) in Class 2A.

Ringgold’s Ryan Pajak, the top runner in Class 2A, did not compete.

“My time was an amazing,” Stewart said. “I was really excited. I wanted to run anything under 17 minutes.

“I had never won an invitational, so this is big. This was huge for my confidence.”

Belle Vernon senior Luke Henderson placed sixth, Greensburg Salem senior Aaron Tressler was seventh and Kiski Area freshman Sammie Plazio, the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association champion, was eighth.

Plazio said the hill on the course was a killer.

“I definitely will have a different game plan next week,” Plazio said. “I’m going to attack the hill a different way. You can definitely pass people there.”

Woodland Hills freshman Annabel Johnson won the girls race in a time of 19:34.68. Shady Side Academy junior Chelsea Hartman was second and Hampton senior Ava Vitiello was third.

“This is my first big win in an invitational,” Johnson said. “Other than that, I placed second to Kiski Area’s Eliza Miller a few times.

“It was windy, so I really worked on drafting behind girls, especially on the hill. They did a lot of the work for me and then when I reached the top, I took my chance and pulled in front.”

Belle Vernon senior Rosalyn Perozzi was eighth, and Derry sophomore Jane Huss was 20th.

Winchester Thurston rules

The Winchester Thurston boys and girls teams took the Class A titles.

The girls edged Mohawk, 47-68. Riverview was third with 80.

The boys nipped Riverview, 45-52. The Raiders ran without their top runner, Amberson Bauer, who was nursing an injury. Mohawk finished third with 130.

Mohawk sophomore Jackson Schoedel took top honors, running a 17:19.88. Freedom junior James Couch was second with in 17:36.00 and Winchester Thurston sophomore Eli Desimone was third 17:48.80.

“I hate that hill,” Schoedel said. “I think everyone hates it. But I know how to attack it for next week. This was my first race on the course, and I know I can run faster.”

The girls winner was Riverside junior Alexi Fluharty, who ran a 20:05.41. Aquinas junior Alexis Abbett was second and Mohawk junior Natalie Lape was third.

Ligonier Valley junior Clara Wallace finished eighth.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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