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Newton’s Knoll signs to row for Wichita State

Published: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 11:10 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 11:54 a.m. CDT
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(Jocelyn Sheets/Daily News)
Off on a new adventure will be Newton High senior Kaelee Knoll after Monday’s signing of a letter of intent to compete for the women’s rowing team at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan. Knoll knows swimming and track, but is ready to learn a new sport. On hand for the signing were Knoll’s parents, Robin and Mike Knoll and her brother, Jacob.

Rowing ... you talking about rowing?

Yes, indeed the talk is about women’s collegiate rowing. Newton High senior Kaelee Knoll signed a letter of intent Monday to compete in rowing for Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan.

Knoll competed as a varsity swimmer and runner in track for Newton High. She has no experience or background in the sport of rowing.

“It seemed really interesting when I saw the Des Moines rowing club on the news last year. I wasn’t able to be a part of it, but it kind of seemed like a combination of swimming and track, which have been my two main sports in high school,” Knoll said Monday.

She said rowing was a sport where she could still be on the water and have all the cardio of running. Rowing fascinated her, Knoll said.

Knoll didn’t go searching for a college to try the sport of rowing. She was researching out-of-state universities for her major of bio-medical engineering, which Wichita State offered.

“I didn’t look at the rowing team at Wichita State until I decided on going there for my academics. It feels a lot like Des Moines in Wichita,” Knoll said. “I contacted the rowing coach, and he had me fill out their recruit form. I just kept talking to him.”

Persistence paid off for Knoll. She said she updated the Shocker rowing coach with how she was doing academically and athletically at Newton High.

The Shocker rowing teams are coached by Calvin Cupp, who is in his 16th year as head coach at WSU. There are varsity and novice rowing teams for the women and men.

“Coach Cupp sent me an email. He said between my academic success, my competitive drive as a varsity athlete in swimming and track, and my interest in the sport, I was one he wanted to offer a scholarship,” Knoll said. “When I read that at bottom of the email, I was super excited and I screamed.”

Knoll and her parents went to Wichita State last week for student orientation. She said they took in all that is Shocker Rowing.

“It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it was, especially for the coxswain — the people who yell out commands in the boats,” Knoll said. “Carrying the boats down to the river is more than just carrying them down there. There’s a process.”

Knoll said she was excited to be discovering a new sport, learning the language of rowing and taking on the challenge of learning the sport from the bottom up. She said she plans to compete for a rowing position not a coxswain spot.

Knoll was a member of the Newton/Colfax-Mingo/Pella Aquagirls swim team all four years at Newton High and ran track for the Cardinals. She is the daughter of Robin and Mike Knoll of Newton.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or jsheets@newtondailynews.com