Drew Griffith takes baton from Butler teammate, wins WPIAL cross country crown

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Thursday, October 27, 2022 | 9:03 PM


Last year, Drew Griffith helped make it a Butler 1-2 finish at the WPIAL Class 3A boys cross country championships at Cal (Pa.).

The junior was runner-up to teammate and current Notre Dame freshman CJ Singleton.

This year, Griffith is all alone at the top.

For the second week in a row, Griffith rolled to a new Roadman Park course record. Thursday’s time was 15:17.2, a full 36 seconds better than runner-up Jack Bertram (15:53.1), a sophomore from North Allegheny who was third last year.

“I felt all right going into it, and I just went for it,” Griffith said. “That (time) definitely surprised me a lot because my legs still are a little heavy. But I am very happy with that. (CJ) taught me everything I know. He gave me a legacy to uphold. It’s really nice after coming in second last year. I wanted this for a year, and the time finally came.”

Peters Township senior Brett Kroboth finished third (16:11.8), bumping up one spot from fourth last year.

Bertram helped the Tigers collect their fifth straight boys Class 3A team title and 16th overall since 2005. NA, with a low of 31 points, had six runners place in the top 13, and its seventh runner just missed a medal in 17th.

South Fayette finished a distant second with 145 team points, but the Lions also will be going to states. Alaa-Eddine Guetari and Roman Galioto earned medals in ninth and 11th place.

Class 2A

While the girls have had numerous three- and four-time champions, Quaker Valley’s Zach Skolnekovich (2014-16) has the distinction of being the only three-time WPIAL cross country champion for boys.

Ringgold junior Ryan Pajak has an opportunity to join him after he won his second in the Class 2A race.

Pajak breezed to his second title in a time of 15:43.9.

“Winning this a second time is thrilling,” Pajak said. “I’m really happy with that. It means a lot to me and gives me more confidence. My time was a minute faster this year.”

Blackhawk’s Ethan Papa was second with a time of 16:19.0 and Uniontown’s Mason Stewart was third in 16:25.3.

Hampton was the boys champion for the second consecutive season by outscoring Blackhawk, 94-134. Uniontown was third with 137.

Class A

Sean Aiken loved last year’s WPIAL boys Class A individual cross country title at Cal (Pa.) so much he decided to pick up another one Thursday on the same Roadman Park course.

Despite laboring somewhat as he crossed the finish line, Aiken ran well enough throughout the course to win his second straight individual championship by 11 seconds over Mohawk sophomore Jackson Schoedel (16:50.7).

“It is super cool to win it again,” said Aiken, 12th as a freshman and ninth as a sophomore. “It was a big goal of mine. After being injured a little bit, I was nervous that I would be back in shape, so it was a huge accomplishment for me. Just working my way back, I had to trust the process.

“It was tough, and it took a lot more heart just to keep going because my body wasn’t feeling it at the end. I definitely had to work through that one.”

The top four teams and top 20 individual finishers not on one of the top four teams qualified for the PIAA championships next week in Hershey. That equated to the top 40 overall finishers punching tickets to states.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart senior Maxwell Hamilton (16:52) placed third, and Riverview senior Amberson Bauer (17:11.2) edged out Winchester Thurston sophomore Eli DeSimone (17:11.5) at the finish line for fourth.

Hamilton helped OLSH win the program’s second WPIAL title (2012) with 68 points, just three points better than Winchester Thurston and 13 ahead of third-place Riverview (81).

Despite not having junior Nathan Garrett, last year’s 12th-place finisher in Class 2A, because of a transfer-rule restriction, Eden Christian ran to a fourth-place team finish with 130 place points.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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