PTFCA Changes Decision, Griffith Now Set To Race At State

* Butler's Drew Griffith has been reinstated for the PTFCA Championships and has entered the mile

by John Davern and Phil Grove | Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit

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Drew Griffith will be allowed to race at the indoor state championships after all. 

On Monday, the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association (PTFCA) reversed course, allowing the Butler High School senior to race the mile at its indoor state championships this Sunday at Penn State University, reversing course from an earlier decision that disallowed his entry due to a rule that prevented high school runners in the state from using performance entries from races that included post-high school, collegiate or professional runners. 

Headlines were made on Sunday as Griffith's mile entry was not accepted on the basis of that rule. That decision was overturned on Monday afternoon around 2:00 PM, MileSplit Pennsylvania has learned. 

Late Sunday night, Butler High School coaches filed a written appeal with the PTFCA requesting that the decision be overturned. The appeal was then forwarded to the PTFCA Jury of Appeals.

On Monday morning, it was initially rejected.

Related Links: 

Rule could prevent Drew Griffith's state title defense

"The Jury of Appeals rejected the appeal by Butler High School to have Drew Griffith compete in the mile due to the fact that an athlete who was not in high school competed in that event," the PTFCA wrote. 

A few hours later, however, the jury decided to reconvene and reversed their earlier ruling.

PTFCA president Ron Lopresti, who was not on the jury, commented on the matter:

"The Jury of Appeals has rescinded their denial and Drew Griffith has been accepted into the meet," Lopresti said. "The Jury of Appeals then recommended, and I agreed, that we will expand the mile field to 21 participants (from 20) as to not remove a previously accepted athlete."

The Butler High School Boys Track and Field Coach, Mike Seybert, commented on the decision:

"Butler is very happy to know that our top distance runner will be able to compete in his own State Meet in his Senior year..." Seybert said. "This was a ton of stress on an athlete and staff that hopefully can be avoided in the future."

Griffith will be listed as the top seed with his 4:02.71 mile time and will have the opportunity to defend his PTFCA indoor state title. He is still expected to race the distance medley relay.

"Hearing the news that I had been accepted into the mile was definitely a relief," he said. "The whole situation just seemed like a mess but I'm excited to get to race the mile this weekend. Mostly, I'm excited to do it beside my future teammates Colin (Whitaker) and Ryan (Pajak)."

Griffith's future coach -- Notre Dame assistant track and field and cross country coach Chris Neal -- also commented on this past weekend's two mile race at Notre Dame, where a current Fighting Irish assistant coach exited the race after starting as a pace-setter.

"We have splits from Drew's final 1,600 meters of his two mile this past weekend," he said. "For that final 1,600m he was completely solo and ran a time of 4:13. This time would, and should, qualify him for the state meet."

Griffith noted that the pacer "trailed off to the side down the straightaway before we started the second mile."
Pacesetters in high-level distance races routinely stop running at or near the midpoint of the race, having established the initial opening pace.

That being said, en-route times usually only include the first however many meters of a race. It is not believed that this weighed into the PTFCA's reversal, but there was no comment about the specifics of the reversal.

Related Links: 

PTFCA State Indoor Championship meet page