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Butler’s Griffith shines, other county athletes earn wins at WPIAL championships

Butler’s Orien McBride-Cager jumps in the high jump as he won the 3A Boys High Jump at the WPIAL track and field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle

SLIPPERY ROCK — Give Drew Griffith the baton with a lead and Butler's senior knows how to close the deal.

He was the anchor on Butler's 4x800 boys relay Wednesday at the WPIAL Class 3A track and field championships, held at Slippery Rock University.

Drew Knight, Zach Slear and Owen Dressler had gone before him and Griffith began his 800 meters with a head start of several meters. He never came close to giving up the lead as the Golden Tornado won with a time of seven minutes, 53.54 seconds.

"The other guys have been strong this season," said Griffith. "They do their job and give me a lead to work with, you can't ask for more."

Having Griffith as the anchor is "a luxury," said Butler coach Mike Seybert, who saw Butler's boys win two other WPIAL crowns.

Griffith would later successfully defend his title in the 1,600 with a time of 4:03.22.

Those efforts came before a pair of weather-related delays totaling five hours pushed the conclusion of the meet to Thursday at SRU.

Orein McBride-Cager came very close to winning a WPIAL title last year, losing in a jump-off to Mars' Evan Kurpakus in the high jump.

No extra effort was needed Wednesday.

Butler's senior went 6-5 in the event to bring home the Class 3A crown.

"I'm better than I was this time last year, my form is better," he said. "I'm laying my head back and keeping my hips up. I was hoping to go 6-7, but now I have the chance to do it at states."

The long jump and high jump were being held at the same time and McBride-Cager had a stake in both.

"He was running back and forth between the two events and they were on opposite sides of the field," said Butler jumping coach John Williams. "He didn't have much time to think, but took it all in stride."

Williams saw another one of his jumpers claim gold — Ayden Davis in the triple jump with an effort of 44-8.

"I didn't do track last year, came back out this season just to have fun," Davis said.

Williams believes Davis' success is due just as much to his mentality as physical ability.

"He's a competitor, be battles," said Williams. "He's been such a joy to coach and is such a gifted athlete."

Butler's girls were led by Aubrey Rock and Lauren Bowden, who won the Class 3A pole vault and 300 hurdles, respectively.

Rock, who picked up the pole vault less than a year ago, reached a height of 12 feet to win.

"I was pretty new to the event, so I didn't have any goals in mind today," said Rock. "I just wanted to do my best and see how it panned out.

"I wanted to stay calm and confident."

Bowden placed here last year in the 300, earning an 8th-place medal. The one she earned Wednesday for placing first felt a little more comfortable. She won with a time of 44.99.

"My best time is 44.32, so I was pretty close considering the rain and the wait," said Bowden. "When I'm running on a wet track, I try not to jump as high because you can go down easier."

Also winning a Class 3A girls title was North Catholic's 4x100 relay team of Sunni Love, Daphne Flerl, Anna Lazzara and Seava Cresta.

Claiming the Class 2A girls pole vault was Freeport freshman Mackenzie Magness at 11-6.

"I went 11 feet in middle school and won a lot of events," she said. "That gave me a lot of confidence coming into high school. Twelve feet is waiting for me at states and I'm going for it."

The meet will resume Thursday at 4 p.m. with the 800, 200, 3,200 and 4x400 relay still to be contested, along with several events in the field.

Freeport Mackenzie Magness holds up her gold medal after winning the 2A girls pole vault at the WPIAL track and field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Seneca Valley Kathryn Morrison jumps over the hurdle as she placed 3rd in the 3A Girls 100 meter hurdles at the WPIAL track and field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler Drew Griffth leads the pack in 1600 meter run in WPIAL Class 3A Boys Track and Field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler Drew Griffth ,left, gets a jump over Fox Chapel Rowan Gwin in the 1600 meter run in WPIAL Class 3A Boys Track and Field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler Drew Griffth congratulates all the runners after winning the 1600 meter run in WPIAL Class 3A Boys Track and Field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler Drew Griffth puts up the number one after winning the 1600 meter run in WPIAL Class 3A Boys Track and Field Championships at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/special to the Eagle)
Freeport Erin Schaeffer humps over the hurdles in the 100 Meter Hurdles finals in the WPIAL Class 2A track and field Championship at Slippery Rock University on Wednesday May 15, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)

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