Men’s and Women’s Rowing Announce 25-Member Inaugural Class

Head Coach Bart Thompson is excited to reveal the first recruiting class for Bulldogs men's and women's rowing programs, which are set to begin this season. (Photo provided)
Head Coach Bart Thompson is excited to reveal the first recruiting class for Bulldogs men's and women's rowing programs, which are set to begin this season. (Photo provided)

ADRIAN, Mich.--Adrian College Men’s and Women’s Rowing has announced the 25-person recruiting class for its inaugural year of competition. Bulldogs head coach Bart Thompson shared that the class is comprised of recruits from cities all over the Midwest—including Detroit, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Toledo, Grand Rapids and Dayton—and includes four students from non-rowing athletic backgrounds in addition to the 21 who rowed in high school.

“It would be hard to be more excited than I am about this group of young men and women,” Coach Thompson said of this inaugural group of recruits. “We have been searching for student-athletes who will lay the foundations of a great program. This meant finding recruits who are athletically talented, of course, but even more importantly are positive, hard-working people, more concerned with their team’s success than their own.

“We scoured the Midwest this year to find some of the best student-athletes in the entire region, and I feel confident that we accomplished that objective. This group understands both the challenge and the opportunity that is in front of them as our first-ever class of recruits, and all of them are eager to rise to the occasion. Moreover, I believe wholeheartedly that they will make a positive difference in the Adrian community.”

Listed below are the 25 recruits, along with commentary from Coach Thompson.

Aidan Moran - Westerville North High School (Westerville Crew). “Aidan is a sterling example of someone who lets his actions speak volumes about who he is. While he is easygoing and soft-spoken off the water, his results both on the erg and in the boat are indicative of both his work ethic and natural ability. We’re beyond excited to have him bring those impressive talents to our team next year.”

Allison Saff - Roosevelt High School. “Allie is someone who has a quiet, focused drive to her that we love. Just in the time that we’ve known her this year we’ve already watched her make substantial improvements to her speed through dedication and hard work. She is someone who we think is going to continue to improve a lot within the competitive environment of college rowing.”

Athena Flaishans - Roosevelt High School. As a program, we place a lot of emphasis on getting talented, motivated coxswains. Athena is a friendly, thoughtful, and intelligent young woman, which are all traits that we believe will help her succeed at this level. We’re excited to see her blossom amidst the opportunity to be one of our leaders as a coxswain on our team.”

Austin Pettry - Grosse Ile High School. “In addition to being likeable and respectful, one of the first thingsyou will notice about Austin is that he is a self-starter. He has shown that he will take the initiative to make consistent, daily sacrifices for the pursuit of a greater goal of self-improvement. This trait is uncommon at his age, and it will be hugely helpful to our program in the coming years.”

Chris Yaklic - Centerville High School (Dayton Boat Club). “Chris has impressed us throughout the recruiting process with his ability to be proactive and accountable in all aspects of his preparation for next year, which is a very impressive skill. Chris is also compassionate and concerned with the wellbeing of others on his team, a trait that we believe is going to aid both himself and our program tremendously in the coming years.”

Cole Smith - Ohio Connections Academy (Greater Dayton Rowing Association). “Cole is selfless and amiable, but he is also intensely driven. He has already shown a great commitment to the pursuit of becoming the best possible version of himself as a rower, and his technical and speed growth is a testament to that hard work. Those skills, combined with his solid frame, are going to help him be successful at the next level.”

Dalton VasBinder - Washtenaw Community College/Blissfield High School. “You would be hard-pressed to find a more mature, respectful, disciplined young man than Dalton. His commitment to changing his physical frame from that of a football player into one that will be optimized for rowing speaks to his preparation and commitment to succeeding at Adrian. His poise and drive will be incredibly helpful to us.”

Darren Castello - Munising High School. “Darren participated in cross country, wrestling, and track in high school, yet has a very lengthy build. As such, he has a fantastic athletic background for rowing. But it is his mental determination--his willingness to learn and desire to grow--that we believe are his biggest assets in his growth to becoming a successful rower.”

David Swegles - Grosse Pointe South High School. “David is a thoughtful, conscientious young man who has already demonstrated a team-first mentality. Through both his family members who rowed and his background as a talented swimmer, David is familiar with the sort of hard work and sacrifice that is required to be successful in rowing. We believe he will be very successful as he moves to the sport full-time.”

Emily Cahill - Westerville Central High School (Westerville Crew). “Emily is one of the two coxswains in our class, and we couldn’t be more excited about having her on the team. She is laid back and relaxed while also being very focused and driven, and she has demonstrated exceptional ability both to motivate and to lead a crew. We look forward to her playing a big part in our program’s success over the next four years.”

Emily Reese - Gahanna Lincoln High School (Westerville Crew). “Emily was our first recruit to visit campus, so having her join us is an awesome feeling. Emily brings a wonderful blend of anaerobic power with aerobic endurance ability, and she also has spent time in small boats. She’s an intense athlete in the boat as well, and we we feel she has the potential to be a fantastic oarswoman for our program.

Ethan Powell - Trenton High School. “Ethan displays an enthusiasm, determination, and leadership that we love. As someone who comes from a fairly-new but successful high school program, he is used to working very hard to help a new team achieve success. That trait is one we really valued in this group, and we believe it’s a skill that we believe will benefit our entire program.”

Evan Purcell - Forest Hills Central High School. “Evan is not only talented as a rower but also as a leader, as evidenced by being a team captain. He has an impressive track record in small boats and is driven to become the best version of himself, and is already seeking honest feedback about how to achieve that goal. That trait is essential and rare, and it is one of the many reasons we feel he’ll be a huge asset to our program.”

Gio Esquivel - Cranbrook Kingswood High School. “Gio impressed us not only with how thoughtful and respectful he is, but also how committed he has been to doing as much as possible to prepare himself for rowing at the next level. He consistently displays a desire to grow himself both as a rower and a teammate. His team-first mentality is phenomenal, and is going to be vital to the growth and success of our team culture.”

Grace Cool - Forest Hills Central High School. “Grace may be the pound-for-pound strongest rower in our class. She’s light enough that she could probably cox if she wanted to, but she brings such determination and toughness to the boat as an athlete. Her intangibles are amazing: organized, respectful,intelligent, and tireless in her work ethic. We look for Grace to be a strong leader in our program.”

Hannah Heller - Anthony Wayne High School (Black Swamp Rowing). “Hannah has a lot of traits that we love. For one, she’s a fast rower, both on the erg and on the water, but is humble about her abilities. She’s quiet, but there is a strong desire to be pushed to become her best self. She’s been a crucial leader for her
high school program, and we anticipate she’ll be one for us as well both on and off the water.”

Jake Witt - Capac High School. “Jake comes to us having had a very successful high school athletic career across multiple sports. With his natural athleticism and ideal frame for the sport we believe that he will be an asset to the program. Jake also displays a level of accountability for his own success not often found at his
age, an attribute that will help him be successful as he begins rowing.”

Julian Cantu-Salinas - Carlson High School. “Julian is an athlete that came onto our radar late in the recruiting process, and we’re so happy that we found him. He’s got a lot of experience and skill in small boats from his time in the pair, and he has a solid work rate. Julian has the sort of respectful demeanor and passion for the sport that we look for in all of our incoming athletes, and we’re excited to have him with us.”

Kacie Salon - Traverse City Central High School (Traverse City Tritons Rowing). “Kacie is another recruit who scores off the charts in the area of being a trailblazer and leader for her program. She was the first juniors rower at her boat club when she began rowing in middle school, so she’s had a great amount of water time in the 1-time, which we think is a valuable skill. We look forward to watching her develop further next year.”

Lance Berry - New Albany High School (Westerville Crew). “Lance brings a fantastic all-around skill set to our program. He has both important cultural traits (positivity, self-motivation, respectfulness) as well as the rowing traits (a fast rower and a good mover of small boats) that we look for in a recruit. We feel he will be a significant contributor to our program in a myriad of ways, both on the water as well as in our team dynamic.”

Layna Mathews - Skyline High School. “Layna is someone who exhibits a number of different skills that we like to see. She’s a strong, powerful athlete that can move a big boat, but she’s also spent much of her high school career in small boats and has acquired many of the skills that those shells teach. She’s funny,
engaging, and has big goals for herself, which we love to see.”

Mitch Doyle - Forest Hills Northern High School. “Mitch is truly an exceptional young man in a number of ways. He is a fit, fast rower, which is a direct product of his strong work ethic. He is also articulate, intelligent, and affable. This collection of traits make him a natural leader and great teammate, and we’re very excited to see what he does in the coming years at Adrian.”

Rudy Schork - Huron High School. “Rudy is a fantastic addition to our class. He is a technically talented rower who has been a part of some successful crews during high school. Rudy is also an affable, engaging personality, which is huge for team culture. He also has an intellectual curiosity that helps him to seek to improve continuously and will be very helpful to our program.”

Victor Thacker - St. Mary’s Preparatory. “As someone who is both amiable off the water and powerful on the water, Victor brings a lot of great talents to our program that will be vital for us. He also comes from a high school rowing program that has a rich history of success and forming well-developed young people, and we feel confident he’ll bring that same culture here.”

Zak Kott – Jackson Community College/Central Catholic. “One of the things that impressed us the most about Zak throughout his recruitment was his maturity. He communicated with our staff clearly and was very thoughtful in his decision-making process prior to committing to Adrian. Additionally, Zak has a strong commitment to rowing and a drive to be his best self, which we think will help him be successful at this level.”

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