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Griffith takes 2nd in Northeast Regional

Butletr XC runner earns 2nd straight trip to nationals

BOSTON, Mass.— From one coast to another — it’s redemption time for Drew Griffith.

Butler’s stellar senior cross country runner took second place at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional on Saturday in Boston, finishing the course in 14 minutes, 51 seconds. That result earns Griffith a repeat trip to the Foot Locker national high school race Dec. 9 in San Diego.

Griffith lost out to Ringgold ‘s Ryan Pajak by three seconds at the regional, the latter finishing the race in 14:51.

“I had maybe a one-foot lead on him and he just took off at that point,” Griffith said. “There were only 800 meters to go. I miscalculated how much course was left.

“I did my best to gain ground on Ryan from there, but there wasn’t enough time left.”

Saturday’s cross country race was the first one all season that Griffith — the 2023 WPIAL and PIAA champion — failed to win.

“I always want to win, but that wasn’t my main goal today,” Griffith said. “All I wanted to do was finish in the top 10 and qualify for nationals. It was important to me to get back there.

“Anything can happen. I wasn’t going to take any chances, wasn’t going to risk anything.”

Griffith placed eighth at nationals in San Diego last year despite feeling under the weather the day of the race.

“I think I caught a bug from somebody on the plane ride out there or something,” he said. “All I know is, I did not feel well that day. Hopefully, I’ll stay healthy this time.”

Butler cross country coach Rick Davanzati said Griffith is running as strong as ever.

“The competition at the regional was fierce and Drew was right there again,” Davanzati said. “I know he wants to avenge himself at nationals. He ran against a number of Pennsylvania guys today and everybody did well.”

Four of the race’s top 10 finishers are from Pennsylvania. Jack Bertram of North Allegheny placed ninth.

Griffith, Pajak and Colin Whitaker (finished sixth) will all be running for Notre Dame next year.

“I’m looking forward to that. I like all of those guys,” Griffith said.

Davanzati pointed out that the regional gives a championship award to the state that had the best combined highest five finishers. Pennsylvania claimed that honor with 33 points. There were 12 states represented in the Northeast Regional.

The Golden Tornado’s Owen Dressler also competed in the regional and placed 41st in the 153-runner field with a time of 16:21.

“Owen had a good showing,” Davanzati said. “He’s getting better and better.”

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