Drew Griffith pictured winning the Champs Northeast Regional Championship - Photo by TSPImages
Photo Credit: PennTrackXC
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In his meteoric rise through the ranks of Pennsylvania's distance runners, Drew Griffith has never been one to wait for others, employing a front-running style that has positioned himself with the nation's finest over a mile and up.
If it works on the track and in cross country, setting the pace in the recruiting game also seemed like a good idea for the Butler High School junior as his verbal commitment to Notre Dame last week on social media followed his game plan and is one of the first such declarations from the Class of 2024.
"I kind of wanted to take all my visits and just hopefully be committed by the end of track season just because I want my senior cross country season to have no interruptions and no distractions," Griffith said. "I kind of wanted to get it done with early, but I wasn't honestly expecting to be done with it this early."
Griffith finished the 2023 indoor season as PA's fastest at 1,600 meters, 1 mile and 2 miles and was No. 2 at 3,200 meters. Nationally, he was 18th at 3,200, 11th at 1 mile, 4th at 2 miles and No. 1 over 1,600.
Butler coach Rick Davanzati believes his junior standout can continue to excel in his remaining seasons in a Golden Tornado uniform.
"As you've seen over the last two years, he jumped by leaps and bounds," Davanzati said. "He's still progressing, and I believe he has another level with a year left in high school. If we can keep him healthy, he's done a remarkable job of doing all the right things. In terms of potential, I'm not a speculator, more conservative, but again I do think he can be even better at the next level."
Griffith's decision to commit to the Fighting Irish came after a visit there the previous weekend. Prior to being on the South Bend campus, he took official visits to Stanford and Wake Forest, starting the run of officials the week after the indoor season concluded.
"I was looking for a place that had a really good education but also a high level cross country and distance track team, and Notre Dame, Stanford and Wake (Forest) all had what I was looking for," he said. "I really loved the team when I was out (at Notre Dame) and that was something I was looking for. I instantly clicked with all of the guys, and that was a huge factor to me."
Griffith's social media announcement moves him a step closer to joining former Butler star and teammate CJ Singleton on the northern Indiana campus and Fighting Irish roster. A 2022 Butler graduate, Singleton already has made an impact at the ACC school with an impressive collegiate debut in a completely new event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
"Having somebody like CJ to run with every single day my sophomore year and having someone around to look up to and shape who I wanted to be was definitely a factor in my success," Griffith said of his relationship with the current Irish runner. "He told me to just have fun with the whole recruiting process. Whenever you get to campus at the place you want to be, just know it will just click. He feels really at home so I am really looking forward to getting on campus my freshman year in a year and a half. That will be fun."
Griffith also spoke of the role that Davanzati has had on transforming a freshman "hoping to sneak into that top 7" into one of the top distance recruits in the country.
"Coach D, every day he supports me," Griffith said of the XC and assistant track coach for the Golden Tornado. "He knows what he is doing, too. I am never unsure of whatever workout we are doing because I have full faith in him, and he knows exactly what he is doing. The amount of support he's given me throughout the years is incredible."
Griffith is scheduled to meet rival Brian DiCola of Hatboro Horsham and a talented field in the mile Friday afternoon at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. Some right calf soreness that developed after a triple in a hard-fought dual meet win over North Allegheny two weeks ago today has resulted in some cross-training in recent days as the junior "hopefully can stay" in the race at Franklin Field.
Outside of the current track season, Griffith has no doubts about his big goal before he graduates in 2024.
"I definitely want to get a cross country state title," he answered. "That's my biggest goal, and that has been my biggest goal since I was a sophomore and getting second behind CJ. I just wanted to carry the torch since he won. I just want to win that championship ... and to have fun with it."