Signing Class of 2023

Three of this year’s seniors have set their sights on Division I college rowing.  Kathryn Borthwick signed with KU last fall, Hailey Vardiman signed with K-State this spring, and Ava Reese has been verbally committed to the University of Washington since the summer, signing with them in the fall as well.

Going furthest afield, Ava says, “Rowing at the University of Washington has been my dream ever since I first sprinted down Lake Shawnee in July 2018.”  She looks forward to combining the beauty and mental toughness of rowing as the mainstay of her college experience in the Pacific Northwest.  Most notably, she will get to train under Head Coach and former Olympian Yasmin Farooq at the historic UW program where Ava is “excited to be pushed even harder, allowing myself to become the best athlete I can be, adding my own contributions to the legacy of the ‘Women of Washington.’”

For Hailey, in true K-Stater style, continuing her rowing career here at home is all about family.  On the one hand, she says, “the K-State community attracted me automatically and the campus feels separate from Manhattan.”  At the same time, she’ll stay connected to her “biggest support system” of mom, dad, sister, and grandparents as she takes the next step up in her athletic career. Rowing for Head Coach and former Olympian Patrick Sweeney was an easy choice since Hailey says, “My life right now is in Manhattan, my life being my family, passions and KSU!”

Kathryn had chosen to go to KU for the academic programs and atmosphere before considering the possibility of Division I athletics.  When she met the rowing team and coaches, it was a perfect fit.  She describes the program as “loving and understanding” because “they see their rowers as people and students first, which is something I believe is super important.”  Kathryn will contribute to the Jayhawk tradition under KU-alumna Head Coach Carrie Cook-Callen.

With Division I rowing and coaching experience herself, Manhattan Junior Crew Head Coach Grace Ure will watch these budding college careers with bated breath.  “It will be particularly interesting to watch the results of future Sunflower Showdowns as Kathryn and Hailey, having been more or less inseparable, currently rowing our women’s pair, and serving as co-team captains this semester, will now have to become ‘best frenemies’ on the water.  I’m also super proud of Ava’s bravery in thinking outside the Kansas-box for the next stage in her career.  Despite only the humblest of beginnings our program has been able to give them, I’m excited to see how far these three will fly.”

Manhattan Junior Crew will complete their regular season at the US Rowing Central Youth Championships in Oklahoma City on May 6 and 7.  Top finishers will qualify to race in the US Rowing Youth National Championships in June.

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