Helms, Miller earn Kansas rowing’s top awards

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas rowing team turned the last page of the chapter that was the 2016-17 season on Monday, handing out team awards and celebrating its senior class.

Before departing for the summer, the Jayhawks gathered one last time with their families at the KU Rowing Boathouse for the annual tradition. The procession began with a brass ensemble, led by senior Katherine Young, playing while KU’s seniors – dressed in cap-and-gown – were recognized one-by-one in lieu of the official KU commencement which took place on Sunday during the Big 12 Rowing Championship.

The gathering was highlighted by head coach Rob Catloth presenting the Oarswoman of the Year to senior First Varsity Eight rower Jordan Helms and the Nikia Rosenberger Coxswain of the Year to First Varsity Eight coxswain Mallory Miller.

A year after earning the Most Improved Oarswoman in 2015-16, Helms earned the top award for a Jayhawk rower.

“We have had so many strong women who have done so much for this team on a daily basis this season, and Jordan has led that pack by bringing so much to the table on a consistent basis,” Catloth said. “Jordan went through some adversity early in her career, but when it clicked for her it was amazing. She trains and approaches the sport at an exemplary level — she has been a strong team leader.”

Miller guided the First Varsity Eight to back-to-back Big 12 Boat of the Week honors this season before joining the exclusive list of top all-time Jayhawk coxswains.

“Mallory has the ability to bring the team together — to make a team strong and fast,” Catloth said. “Freshman year, Mallory won Big 12s in the Fourth Eight and, sophomore year she was first in the Big 12 in the First Four. This year she did some great things for us in the First Eight and we couldn’t be more proud of her effort and enthusiasm.”

Assistant coach Rachelle Pauly presented the Most Improved Freshman award to Morgan Kottas.

“Her athleticism was shown by how quickly she was able to pick up the stroke and finesse of rowing,” Pauley said. “She was determined to improve her technique and fitness every day. She was eager to learn about what more she needed to do improve her stroke in an effort to take her to the next level.”

Assistant coach Kelsey Arnold took the podium to present the Outstanding Freshman award to Reese Arnold (no relation).

“She loved the competitive environment and thrived in it,” Coach Arnold said. “She made her way into the top-16 group for winter training and she never left. She has been a solid performer in the Second Varsity Eight for us.”

Assistant coach Carrie Cook-Callen presented the Most Improved Oarswoman to junior Valerie Swisher.

“She got a 2K erg time under 7:30 — taking 27 seconds off of her freshman year,” Callen-Cook boasted about Swisher. “She ended the season as a strong member of the Third Varsity Eight and also stepped into fill-in for the First Varsity Four when we were in need.”

Kansas continued its tradition of the senior class figuratively passing the torch to the next generation of leaders by choosing the Essence of a Jayhawk Award winner. The 2017 seniors chose Swisher as well.

Senior Emily Ruble described Swisher as the consummate teammate: “She is humble. She is level-headed. She is wise beyond her years. She is someone you want sitting behind you or in front of you. We had a unanimous decision after a short discussion before we decided to give this special award to Valerie.”

Team academic advisor Phil Lowcock, Ph.D, handed out two academic achievement awards for Senior Academic Achievement and “Class of 2000” Team Academic Award. The Senior Academic Achievement goes to student-athletes maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The prestigious Team Academic Award was presented to student-athletes with a 3.7 GPA or higher. A complete list of the academic honorees are listed below.


Oarswoman of the Year: Jordan Helms
Coxswain of the Year: Mallory Miller
Most Improved Oarswoman: Valerie Swisher
Most Improved Freshman: Morgan Kottas
Outstanding Freshman: Reese Arnold
“Essence of a Jayhawk” Award (presented by senior class): Valarie Swisher

Senior Academic Achievement (Senior with a 3.0 GPA or higher)
Bailey Brandon
Kylee Dewey
Jordan Helms
Margaret Hornick
Maddie Irelan
Mackenzie Klaver
Lexie Lanphere
Olivia Loney
Mallory Miller
Kenzie Obrochta
Brittney Railsback
Emily Ruble
Allison Schaaf
Katherine Young

Team Academic Award (3.7 GPA or higher)
Margaret Hornick
Meghan Karoly
Kelly Koenigsman
Lexie Lanphere
Olivia Loney
Mallory Miller
Kaelyn Thierolf

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