Wichita State Shockers

Row less traveled

When Wichita State assistant coach Tori Breithaupt goes to recruit rowers, she often isn't recruiting rowers.

Some coaches must project how an athlete will do at a different position. Crew coaches often must project how an athlete will perform on water instead of dry land. The high school volleyball or football player who wants to stay active in college is a prime target.

"There are not a lot of rowing teams in Wichita or Kansas," she said. "The main area that we recruit from is going to high schools and talking to kids that are now athletes and saying, "Hey, do you want to come to Wichita State... why don't you try rowing?"

With Breithaupt entering her second year as coach Calvin Cupp's full-time assistant, more recruits are taking that path. WSU's crew team, which relies largely on walk-ons, has six recruited athletes on its roster. That number is up from two a year ago. It is the most recruits in Cupp's nine years at WSU.

"It really allows us to do more stuff with our program," Cupp said. "With her really taking the recruiting lead... it's really going to make a big difference."

WSU opens it season on Saturday at the Boot of the Oklahoma regatta in Oklahoma City. Cupp believes the recruiting work will show up on his novice boats, where the six recruits will get their start.

Wichitan Sydney Blanton is one of those crossover recruits. She swam for seven years before her enthusiasm waned. She earned an academic scholarship to WSU and looked into the rowing program. She joined the Wichita Rowing Association last winter as a senior at Wichita Trinity High. The WSU coaches hosted her on a visit and showed her the team's boathouse, much like a recruiting visit for other sports.

"I like the team bonding," she said. "In swimming, it's pretty much all individual."

If the local-athlete-adopts-crew model is the typical way for WSU to find athletes, Laura Calhoun represents a different approach. She came to WSU from Los Angeles and started rowing at 15 in school in Virginia.

She wants to major in forensic science and she wants to row. WSU matched both those areas. She arrived in late July to visit campus and gave the coaches video of her rowing.

"They really push their athletes to the maximum, which is what exactly I was looking for," she said. "I'm someone who needs to be pushed."

Calhoun is strictly a rower. She didn't play other sports. Now that WSU recruited her halfway across the country, she knows what comes next.

"We're going to win a lot of races this year," she said. "We've got a great group, a really competitive group."