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North Allegheny rower Griffin to continue career at Mercyhurst

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:54 p.m.

North Allegheny graduate Leah Griffin is spending more time on land than water as she prepares to join the Mercyhurst University women's rowing team as a freshman in the fall.

Griffin, 17, works out two hours, six days a week, doing indoor rowing and other exercises at a gym.

“I'm taking a break,” said Griffin, who plans to return to outdoor rowing later this summer.

Griffin was in the stroke seat on the Women's Varsity 4x boat that finished fourth at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America championships in May. The boat advanced as Midwest Scholastic Rowing champion.

One of Mercyhurst's top recruits, she is expected to contend for a spot on the varsity eight that won the petite final at the NCAA Division II championships in Indianapolis on June 1.

It was the seventh straight year the Lakers reached the NCAA championships.

“I believe Leah is going to be a great addition to our program,” Mercyhurst coach Adrian Spracklen said. “She is athletic, smart and has the potential to contribute at the highest level.”

Griffin, who considered Duquesne and Lehigh, said Mercyhurst is ideal academically and athletically.

“The campus is beautiful, and the class sizes good,” she said. “I want to be a physician assistant; they have an excellent program for that.

“The coaching is great. I like the girls on the team, too.”

Mercyhurst assistant coach Jamie Francis admires Griffin's character as much as her athletic skills.

“She's a great student who has her priorities straight,” Francis said.

North Allegheny coach Todd Ridenour said Griffin, the Tigers' team captain this year, is highly competitive and fair-minded.

“She will push herself just that little bit to overcome her opponent,” he said. “She always has to be out in front.

“She is a leader (who) motivates by example.”

Griffin is one of three girls on the 4x boat who plan to row in college. Julianna Malachin (Lehigh) and Jess Goldstein (Duquesne) were members.

Griffin isn't the only standout athlete in her family. Her brother, Joe, was a freshman forward on Pitt's men's Division I club hockey team this year.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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