A Decisive Move Proved Drew Griffith's Mettle This Season

Drew Griffith knew where to strike. It didn't take a rocket scientist to know that the final hill at Balboa Park typically separated the men from the boys at Foot Locker Nationals. 

He had grown up on hills in Pittsburgh, ones near and far, like his home course in Butler and various others across Western Pennsylvania. 

He knew that he was tough enough to take it, to outlast the others and to withstand the pain that required a winning move. 

And ultimately, when Griffith made that decisive surge on Dec. 9 at Foot Locker Nationals, it was his final key-stroke, a blow that no other could match as he claimed a high school national title in 15:06.90 over his last cross country race in high school. 

Related Links: 

The Final MileSplit50 Boys Individual Rankings: 2023 XC Season

The Final MileSplit50 Boys Team Rankings: 2023 XC Season

Drew Griffith, Ryan Pajak Grew Up In Pittsburgh, Finished Careers 1-2 At Nationals

Ping Pong And Hills. How Drew Griffith Won Foot Locker

On The Line: Watch Out For Drew Griffith In December

Drew Griffith Clocks The 16th-Fastest 5K Of All-Time

The win also finished off a nearly perfect season, one that saw him secure nine wins, from his first race on Aug. 6 in Butler to the fastest 5K record on the high school season at the MileStat Invitational, all the way to the PIAA Class AAA State Championships in Hershey. 

On Wednesday, MileSplit named Griffith as its MileSplit50 Athlete of the Year, following prior champions like Kole Mathison (2022) and Colin Sahlman (2021).

Griffith scorched grass on nearly ever turn, running that U.S. No. 1 time of 14:21.00 at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Virginia before other top efforts like his 15:05 at the WPIAL Championships and his 15:23 at Parkview at the state course. 

He ran 14:45 at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, and that was his only loss -- to fellow Western Pennsylvania athlete Ryan Pajak. 

But Griffith, a Notre Dame recruit and the winner of 15 races across his high school cross country career, would find the resolve necessary to win a national title. He finished the year with the fastest speed rating of the year with a 200. 

He credited his long nights of ping pong in the days before as one reason why he may have been poised enough to win when the stakes were the highest. 

Griffith closed off his second straight appearance at Foot Locker with two straight top 10 finishes. He ran 15:14.40 in 2022 to finish eighth. 

Griffith also led three Foot Locker Northeast individuals through the finish line -- Pajak's performance of 15:12 was followed by Tamrat Gavenas' finish in 15:16. 

Former MileSplit50 XC AOY Winners: 

2022: Kole Mathison, Carmel (IN)

2021: Colin Sahlman, Newbury Park (CA)

2020: Parker Wolfe, Cherry Creek (CO)

2019: Nico Young, Newbury Park (CA)

2018: Liam Anderson, Redwood (CA)

2017: Aidan Troutner, Timpview (UT)