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Griffith sets national mark in 1,600 meters

Prementine, Robinson also win PIAA titles at Shippensburg
Butler senior Drew Griffith crosses the finish line to win the Class 3A boys 1,600-meter run Friday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University. He broke the state and national high school record with a time of three minutes, 57.08 seconds. Submitted Photo5/24/24

SHIPPENSBURG — Drew Griffith arrived at Shippensburg University's Seth Grove Stadium on Friday looking to make amends.

He managed to make a whole lot of history.

The senior from Butler High School finished the Class 3A boys 1,600-meter run in three minutes, 57.08 seconds to win the event.

But the effort did more than earn Griffith state gold. It put his name not only in the state record book, but also atop the all-time national rankings.

The time bettered Gary Martin's PIAA record (4:01.56) from 2022 and took down the national high school record of 3:59.51, set by Alan Webb in Virginia in 2001.

"I came here to win, number one, but when I saw what the national record was, it was definitely on my mind," said Griffith. "It feels awesome to go out and achieve it."

Griffith placed second here in the 1,600 last year and third in the 3,200. They were very strong efforts, but left Griffith wanting more.

"I came away from states last year thinking that this meet was hard to crack," he said. "It was tough, but I came into it this time with a new mentality, have fun and enjoy it."

Griffith ran a 3:59.81 over a month ago, but in much different conditions. On Friday, the track was sun-drenched.

"Drew went out with a 58 (seconds) on the first lap," said Butler coach Mike Seybert. "The question was, could he keep that pace up in the heat."

Griffith finished his second lap at 1:58 and his third lap at 2:59. He went 57.9 on the final lap to break the records.

"As I crossed the finish line, I looked at the clock and it read 3:57," Griffith said. "The feeling that came over me, the rush, it was incredible."

Placing second, over seven seconds behind Griffith, was Ringgold's Ryan Pajak.

"I felt really good after 800 and when I was on pace to break the record after the third lap, I knew it was possible," Griffith said.

As he got closer to the finish line, fans in the stands, the vast majority of whom have never met or spoken to Griffith, erupted with cheers.

"This whole season has been awesome," he said.

"Drew is so relaxed and confident. He knows what he's going after," Seybert said. "He's at a level that's above everybody else."

Slippery Rock's Levi Prementine jumped 23 feet, 0.75 inches to win his second straight state title in the Class 2A long jump. It was just a half-inch from the school-record length he won with last year.

"The two guys seeded in front of me (Mercyhurst Prep's Jason Ellman and Conwell-Egan's Anthony Conrey) both came in at 24 feet, so I was thinking that to do anything here, I had to get in the 23s," said Prementine, who did not get close to 23 feet until his next to last attempt.

Prementine will also compete in Saturday's 110 and 300 hurdles. He is the defending state champion in the latter.

"I enjoy the long jump more than both hurdle events," he said. "There's more stress involved in the hurdles for me."

Knoch sophomore Kristofer Robinson placed first in the wheelchair shot put with a throw of 22 feet, nine inches. He topped Upper Perkiomen's Micah Keller and North Catholic's Alex Brown, who placed third at 14-2.25.

"I was hoping for 25 today," said Robinson. "I did alright, but could've done better."

Brown urged Robinson to compete in wheelchair events this season.

"We've known each other for eight years from playing sled hockey together," added Robinson, who will face Brown Saturday in the 100 and 200 dash.

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