Drew Griffith said he couldn’t have drawn up his senior year any better.

Griffith, an outstanding distance runner at Butler, capped his cross country season by winning a national title in December.

And on Sunday, Griffith put the exclamation point on his indoor track season by doing the same.

Oh, and he broke the national record in the process.

Griffith blew away the field to win the title in the two-mile run at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at The TRACK at New Balance in Boston.

“It’s just awesome to do it on the biggest stage,” said Griffith, a Notre Dame recruit who signed an NIL deal with New Balance in January.

A year after placing fourth in the same race, Griffith shaved 13 seconds off of his time by finishing in 8 minutes, 34.91 seconds. That topped runner-up Grant Morgenfeld of Palo Alto, Calif. (8:51.17) by 16 seconds. North Allegheny junior Jack Bertram finished in 9:05.69 to finish in 18th place.

Griffith’s time also bested the previous national record of 8:39.15 that was set by Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J. in 2013. Cheserek went on to become a 17-time NCAA champion at the University of Oregon. It’s a record that Griffith thought he had broken while running at a meet at Notre Dame last month. Griffith ran that race in 8:38.67, but the mark did not count as the record because it came on a 320-meter oversized track. 

This time, however, Griffith has the record.

“Just to say flat out that it’s the record is pretty awesome,” said Griffith, a two-time PIAA cross country champion who finished first at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego in December.

Griffith breaking records is beginning to sound like a broken record. Two weeks earlier, Griffith won the title in the mile at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association Indoor State Championships in record-breaking fashion when he ran a time of 4:02.19. Griffith said then that he would choose between running the one and two mile at nationals, and he ultimately decided to go with the two mile.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Griffith said of his final high school indoor track season. “It’s just been a great season and I’ve just been having a ton of fun. Honestly, the most important part is just getting out there again and enjoying every moment of it. So far it’s been pretty awesome, but I’m looking forward to carrying that same energy into the outdoor season.”

Before then, though, Griffith said he will give his legs a little bit of a break, at least from running on them. He plans on doing some biking and swimming before hitting the outdoor track for the first time in a few weeks. He then hopes to compete in the 3,200-meter run at the Arcadia Invitational April 5 in Arcadia, Calif., before making his season debut locally, which he said will probably come April 19 at the Butler Invitational.

“I’m going to try to plan for something special there, whether it’s a two-mile or a mile,” Griffith said. “I’m definitely going to try to run a really fast time on the home track.”

Also shining at New Balance Nationals …

While Griffith was the only WPIAL athlete to win a national title at the meet held Saturday and Sunday, a pair of other local distance standouts stood out, as well.

Mt. Lebanon senior and North Carolina recruit Logan St. John Kletter placed third in the girls mile after finishing in 4:45.17. Sadie Engelhardt, a junior from Ventura, Calif., won the race in a meet-record time of 4:36.36. St. John Kletter’s time was just a bit slower than her personal record of 4:43.17 she ran to win a third consecutive title at indoor states last month.

Ryan Pajak, a senior at Ringgold and a Notre Dame recruit, finished fourth in the 5,000-meter run via his time of 14:25.80. Daniel Simmons of American Fork, Utah took first place after finishing in 13:38.86. Simmons is a BYU recruit. Pajak was the runner-up to Griffith in the mile at indoor states.

Pajak wasn’t the only Ringgold senior to claim a top-10 finish. Angelina Massey placed ninth in the heptathlon after accumulating 3,324 points. Massey’s top event was the shot put, where she placed second. Massey was third in the 400 at last year’s WPIAL Class 3A track and field championships.

Riggins an All-American

The NCAA Indoor Championships were held in Boston over the weekend, as well, and one former WPIAL star became an All-American.

Shady Side Academy graduate Melissa Riggins, a junior at Georgetown, placed fourth in the mile Saturday after running a personal-best and school-record time of 4:29.02, earning her All-American recognition. Maia Ramsden, a junior at Harvard, claimed first place courtesy of a meet-record time of 4:25.13.

Less than an hour later, Riggins returned to the track and finished 11th in the 3,000 following her time of 9:15.87. Florida junior Parker Valby set a meet record (8:41.50) in winning the event.

At Shady Side Academy, Riggins won six PIAA gold medals in distance events and might have had eight if not for her junior season being canceled because of COVID.

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.