Kansas rowing announces 2017 signees

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas rowing announced the signing of 11 high school seniors for the 2017-18 season on Tuesday. The class includes London Acree (Mahomet, Ill.), Megan Akers (Newton, Kan.), Elizabeth Austrums (Edina, Minn.), Taylor Brown (West Chester, Ohio), Heidi Burns (Girard, Kan.), Maggie Dupuie (Traverse City, Mich.), Lauren Fee (Rochester, Minn.), Anne Kelly (Chicago, Ill.), Rebecca Stepanek (Chicago, Ill.), Anna Van Driel (Derby, Kan.) and Emma Williams (Claflin, Kan.).

“Today is a great day for Kansas rowing,” Kansas head coach Rob Catloth said. “This class has a mix of extensive rowing experience and elite athleticism that will help us take that next step as a program continuing to progress each year. All 11 have unlimited potential not only to improve our program, but to enhance the culture at KU from an academic and leadership standpoint as well.”

The class features 10 rowers and one coxswain. Four of the signees hail from the state of Kansas, three from Illinois (including two high school classmates from Chicago), two from Minnesota and one each from Ohio and Michigan.

London Acree was a standout in both softball and basketball during her time at Mahomet-Seymour High School in Illinois. The daughter of teachers was a four-year varsity starter on the softball team and a team captain for both softball and basketball during her senior year. Acree enters KU with ambitions to become a clinical pediatric psychologist.

Megan Akers will arrive at KU as a combined 14-time letter winner in basketball, volleyball and soccer at Newton High School in Kansas. Akers helped her teams win sub-state championships in all three sports. In 2016, the 5-foot-9 Kansas native was named first team goalkeeper in soccer, the two years leading up to that she was named honorable mention goalkeeper. Akers plans to pursue a degree in education to become a physical education teacher.

Minnesota native, Elizabeth Austrums, comes to KU seeking a degree in psychology. Austrums rowed in high school, in addition to playing ice hockey. Both her junior and senior year, Austrums rowed for the top Varsity Eight boat at Twin Cities Youth Rowing. She even competed in the Head of Charles regatta in Boston.

Taylor Brown comes to Lawrence with rowing experience at the Great Miami Rowing Center in Ohio, where she served as the team captain her senior year. Brown will be the second KU athlete, coming after her father, Steven Brown, who played football for Kansas. Brown was a four-time letter winner in varsity swimming and rowing. The Ohio native placed 9th out of 78 at the Head of Hooch competition in 2015. Brown plans to become an occupational therapist in pediatrics.

Coxswain Heidi Burns lettered in track & field and cheerleading at Girard High School in southeast Kansas. She helped guide the Trojans to three CNC Conference titles in track & field while earning Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) All-America honors in cheerleading. The National Honor Society member and Kansas Board of Regents Scholar plans to pursue a degree in ecology and biology to work in the wildlife and fisheries field.

Michigan native, Maggie Dupuie, brings a wealth of club rowing experience to the table, in addition to lettering in varsity basketball. Dupuie recorded over 12 top-three finishes in club regattas spanning over a year. In the classroom Dupuie maintained over a 3.5 grade point average all four years of high school and was a member of National Honor Society. Her career ambitions are to pursue higher education and achieve a doctorate in audiology. She also wants to continue working with Special Olympics as a volunteer coach.

Lauren Fee will begin collegiate rowing career as a five-time letter winner in swimming at John Marshal High School and a rower at Rochester Rowing Club. The 5-foot-8 Rochester, Minnesota native set a record for the 12th fastest 200 IM time in the history of the conference meet. Fee led the team as captain in 2016 and was also named an academic All-American. She plans to major in health and physical education.

Chicago native, Anne Kelly, comes to Lawrence with experience in swimming and water polo. Kelly was a six-time letter winner at Mother McAuley High School in Chicago. The 5-foot-10 water polo player led her team to a fourth-place finish at state in 2014 and 2016. The daughter of two Chicago Fire Department paramedics, plans to pursue a career in nursing.

Rebecca Stepanek lettered in volleyball at Mother McAuley High School – a national volleyball powerhouse based in Chicago – prior to signing with the Jayhawks. Stepanek and the Mighty Macs won the won the 2016 Illinois Class 4A state title with a 40-1 record, including 32-straight victories, while ending the season ranked No. 1 in nation by PrepVolleyball.com, Max Preps and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). The daughter of a teacher and a firefighter plans to pursue a career in nursing at KU.

Anna Van Driel comes to KU as a nine-time letter winner in volleyball, basketball and track at Rose Hill High School. Van Driel helped lead her volleyball team to three consecutive volleyball sub-state championships and a state championship in 2016. The five-foot-ten senior volleyball player was named all-state honorable mention. Van Driel plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

Emma Williams specialized in the backstroke and freestyle as a swimmer at Central Plains High School in Claflin, Kansas, earning second-team all-conference honors as a senior in the pool. The 5-foot-9 future rower was also a three-time state champion in basketball and two-time team powerlifting champion at Central Plains. Williams plans to major in biochemistry at KU.

Kansas Rowing 2017 Signees 
London Acree (Mahomet, Ill.; Mahomet-Seymour HS)
Megan Akers (Newton, Kan.; Newton HS)
Elizabeth Austrums (Edina, Minn.; Edina HS)
Taylor Brown (West Chester, Ohio; Lakota West HS)
Heidi Burns (Girard, Kan.; Girard HS)
Maggie Dupuie (Traverse City, Mich.; Traverse City Central HS)
Lauren Fee (Rochester, Minn.; John Marshal HS)
Anne Kelly (Chicago, Ill.; Mother McAuley Liberal Arts HS)
Rebecca Stepanek (Chicago, Ill.; Mother McAuley HS)
Anna Van Driel (Derby, Kan.; Rose Hill HS)
Emma Williams (Claflin, Kan.; Central Plains HS)

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