Keep the line moving
BUTLER TWP — All three are WPIAL champions. All three have bested records set by those before them.
And all three believe they have more to do.
Butler graduates Noah Beveridge and C.J. Singleton, along with Golden Tornado junior Drew Griffith, have made their mark in Butler cross country lore. Beveridge, with one year remaining at Syracuse, won the WPIAL title in 2017. Singleton, a freshman at Notre Dame, won the WPIAL crown in 2020 and 2021.
Griffith claimed the WPIAL championship in 2022, following that up with a Northeast region title and an eighth-place finish at nationals.
“The bar was set pretty high here by the guys who ran here before me,” Griffith said. “C.J. has a lot to do with the success I’ve had in running. Just watching him, running with him, gave me so much motivation ... He made me love the sport.”
Butler cross country coach Rick Davanzati said Griffith had a mentor in Singleton during his first couple of years in the Golden Tornado cross country and track and field programs.
“Drew was able to run with him and learn from him,” Davanzati said. “That was a tremendous benefit and set the stage for what he’s doing now.”
Beveridge, a 2018 Butler graduate, contributed to Syracuse’s Atlantic Coast Conference cross country championship team his freshman year. He was an All-ACC runner himself in 2019.
A hip injury hampered him after that and he suffered an Achilles tear eight months ago. Now working on his masters degree in broadcast journalism, Beveridge expects to be ready to compete next cross country season and hopefully in track this spring.
“Everything’s moving in the right direction,” he said. “I want to finish my college career on a positive note, for sure.”
While Singleton wanted to exceed what Beveridge accomplished at Butler, Beveridge himself followed in the footsteps of guys like Josh Rader and Evan Gomez, the standout Tornado distance runners before him.
“I saw how dedicated they were and how hard they worked,” Beveridge said. “I knew I had to apply myself more.”
Singleton said Beveridge was one of the big reasons he came to Butler High School in the first place. He attended Butler Catholic, then spent his freshman year at St. Joseph’s High School.
“I saw what Noah was doing here and he gave me something to shoot for,” Singleton said. “You always want to break records, especially when the guy right before you was setting those records. Individually, I wanted to eclipse Noah’s accomplishments.”
Once he joined Butler’s program, Singleton knew whatever records he set wouldn’t last long.
“When I saw where Drew was at as a young high school runner, with the work ethic he had ... It was pretty obvious,” Singleton said. “He was gonna surpass anything I did. But that was good.
“Keep making the challenge that much harder for the next guy. That’s how program’s get better.”
“There’s no doubt all of these guys fed off each other,” the coach said. “You can throw Brett Brady (now excelling at Navy), who ran with Noah, in that group. They all had the dedication that comes with excelling as a distance runner.
“C.J. has a tough off-season workout program with Notre Dame and he wanted to run outside every day in December. There was only one day he had to stay in and use the treadmill; because conditions were too slippery and icy outside. I heard he ran outside on that (Dec. 23) day the wind chills were so low ... That doesn’t surprise me at all.”
An accounting major at Notre Dame, Singleton was basically red-shirted during cross country season. He said he did well in the Bradley Invitational and has been adjusting to Division I college competition.
“Everyone on the course is as good as you, if not better,” Singleton said. “You have to elevate your game, so to speak. That’s where we have an advantage, coming from Butler. A lot of the training technique we’re seeing in college, we’ve already had in high school.”
Butler’s coaching staff has plenty of experience in that regard.
“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, Coach (Mike) Seybert has been doing it 40 years, John Williams has been at it a long time,” Davanzati said. “I’m a student of the sport. You can always learn more. We’re tweaking things in our training all the time.
“The run of great athletes we’ve had come through our cross country and track programs the past eight years, we are truly blessed.”
Griffith, who has been receiving plenty of attention from Division 1 schools, including Notre Dame, says he’s far from satisfied at the high school level.
“I know I can do better,” he said. “Joining C.J. at Notre Dame, becoming teammates again, that would be awesome. But I have a few track and cross country) seasons here yet.”
When you’re running against your own personal-best time, you can always improve.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Griffith said.