North Allegheny grad Griffin helps Mercyhurst rowers to 1st at NCAA regatta
North Allegheny graduate Leah Griffin ended her college rowing career on a positive note.
Griffin, a senior, was part of the Mercyhurst boat that took first place in the Eights Petite Final at the NCAA Division II women's championship regatta May 25-27, in Sarasota, Fla.
The Lakers finished the 2,000-meter course in 7 minutes, 5.902 seconds, ahead of Barry, of Miami, Fla. (7:13.136). The event was for fifth and sixth places.
“My last race ended in a great win over one of our biggest rivals,” said Griffin, 21. “We rowed well and efficiently.
“My team is pretty small compared to the girls on other teams. It was pretty great we could defeat girls much bigger than us.”
Mercyhurst, which is in Erie, was one of four teams selected to compete at the championship with a four and an eight.
Central Oklahoma, Western Washington and Florida Tech placed first to third.
The Lakers ranked sixth in the postseason USRowing/College Rowing Coaches Association Division II poll.
Earlier, the Mercyhurst eight (6:32.858) came in second to the University of California, San Diego (6:26.729) in the Division II race at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, the largest college rowing event in the country.
Mercyhurst coach Adrian Spracklen said Griffin, seated seventh, helped set the rhythm of the boat.
“The seven seat is a very important seat,” Spracklen said. “As (co-captain) and given her role, she brought a level of confidence to a young crew.”
Spracklen said Griffin, a four-year starter, will be hard to replace.
“The one part that I will miss is her passion for the sport and commitment to the Mercyhurst program,” he said. “I wish I could bottle that passion and give it to future rowers.”
Griffin, a sports medicine major, plans to attend graduate school and become a physician assistant.
She is retiring from competitive rowing.
“Rowing for almost nine years has come with a lot of overuse and chronic injuries,” she said. “But rowing will always be a large part of my life.
“I plan on rowing for leisure in the future.”
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.