This past Sunday, King Philip Freshman track star Michael Griffin served notice to the country. At the the New Balance National Indoor Track Meet, Griffin finished 4th in the mile with a time of 4:31.39. His performance officially placed him among the nation's top 9th grade runners. The Sunday race was also another accomplishment for the 15 year old who has been quickly rewriting the record books at KP and building a resume as an elite runner, both in track and cross country.
(Pictured: Michael Griffin at the New Balance National Indoor Track Meet. Photo provided courtesy of the Griffin family)
So far in his young high school career, Griffin holds the freshman records in the 1000m, mile, two mile and 5K. According to KP's indoor track head coach Scott Kramer, his most impressive performance was in the MIAA Division 2 State Championship where he ran a PR of 4:29.05. "We've held him back early in the season, so seeing him open it up and blow away the field with a 63 second last 400m was awesome," Kramer said. "And only a preview of things to come."
For the indoor season the KP coaches moved Griffin around from different events and only doubled him once in a regular season meet. "We've tried to keep him fresh by having him run different events each meet, and avoiding over racing," Kramer says.
According to his coach, he has the ability to dominate in a variety of distances. "He has the speed and power to run a strong 800m, but he has the focus and the endurance to do up to the 2mile," Kramer says.
The mile, at least for now, is Griffin's favorite with cross country's 5K being a close second. But, regardless of the race, both his teammates and coaches say he attacks practices and meets with enthusiasm and energy. "He loves it," says Kramer. "He has fun everyday [and] loves to challenge himself in practice and training."
KP senior and Captain of the KP Cross Country team, Jack Angelo echo's Coach Kramer's thoughts. "Running with Mike is always an honor and a challenge," Angelo says. "He's a true competitor and you can see it in the way he runs no matter if it's in a race or at practice. Mike's a hard worker and if he keeps it up it's going to take him places."
(Pictured: Michael Griffin (left) and Jack Angelo (right) pushing each other during KP's Cross Country season.)
The modest freshman says right now he is just trying to get better and enjoy the competition. "My motivation to keep running is simply to improve," Griffin says. "Improving your PRs -- personal bests -- is one of the best feelings a runner can have in track and cross country races."
Griffin adds, "My competitors and teammates are the ones who push me the most. Being the competitive person I am, I am always driven to be first place in any race."
The interest in running started back in 7th grade for Griffin. In the middle school gym class students would run the mile and Griffin would compete against his friend Alex Hagen. The two often finished neck and neck. Not satisfied, the boys would stay after school and try to improve their times. Kramer sees that same attitude in practice with the whole team but also notes there is something special happening among the the freshman boys. "In Cross Country the boys won the 'Freshman' race at the MSTCA invitational, with Mike Norberg, Nate Farkash, and Dan Botte. They are all friends and push each other," Kramer says. "Could be big things for the team in the next few years."
For his high school career, Griffin will work on improving his time. He has a few goals for himself including a sub 15 minute 5K, breaking 4:10 in the mile and breaking 9:30 in the 2 mile. The question might not be if he reaches his goals, it's really when will he reach them?