Rowing signs seven to National Letters of Intent

Nov. 21, 2017

SAN DIEGO - San Diego State head rowing coach Bill Zack has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The seven signees—Ellie Alexopoulos (Esher, Surrey, England/Esher Church of England HS), Helen Bauer (Seattle, Wash./Holy Names Academy), Belle de Avila (San Jose, Calif./Leland HS), Alexa Dietz (Camas, Wash./Camas HS), Madison Fisk (El Segundo, Calif./El Segundo HS), Meg Hermann (Melbourne, Australia/Carey Baptist Grammar School), and Kelly Leonard (San Jose, Calif./Presentation HS)—will join the Aztecs in the fall of 2018.

“The combination of high-quality academics, the recent success of the rowing team, and the great weather and attractions of the city of San Diego continue to attract great athletes from all around the country and the world,” Zack said. “This year, we were very selective in our recruiting, making sure that each signee is a good fit for San Diego State and will be able to contribute to the team from day one on. All seven will start in August 2018 and we expect all seven to be strong contributors over their four years. We know we will be adding to this group during the spring signing period, making for an even better recruiting year.”

A former national-level swimmer, Ellie Alexopoulos of Esher Church of England HS has rowed for three years and is currently in the British Rowing World Class Start program, a specialist talent identification program that trains and develops athletes for the Great Britain Rowing Team. In 2017, Alexopoulos competed at the National Junior Sculling Regatta for Walton Rowing Club where she won the bronze medal in the Junior 17 single scull rowing event.

Helen Bauer, a senior at Holy Names Academy in Seattle, Wash., started rowing her freshman year of high school. Bauer rowed in the US Rowing Youth National Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017 where she placed sixth in the lightweight eight, second in the lightweight eight and 11th in the coxed four in respective years. She also won the women’s junior eight at the 2017 Head of the Lake event.

A San Jose, Calif. native, Bella de Avila attends Leland High School and is a fourth year coxswain with Los Gatos Rowing Club. At the 2016 US Rowing Southwest Region Youth National Championship, de Avila’s boat placed third in the coxed lightweight four and later went on to place 13th at the US Rowing Youth National Championships.

Alexa Dietz, a first year rower at Vancouver Lake Rowing Club in Camas, Wash., also competed in track and field and gymnastics. In her junior year, Dietz won the gold medal in long jump and triple jump at the Greater St. Helen’s League 4A District track and field championship team event. In gymnastics, Dietz won the all-around gold medal for GSHL 4A District Championships and went on to take third place in floor exercise and fifth in vault at the Class 4A State Championship meet.

Madison Fisk of El Segundo, Calif., is currently a senior at El Segundo HS. Fisk is currently a coxswain for Marina Aquatic Center, where she is a member of the junior rowing boys team and coxed the second varsity eight at the 2017 US Rowing Southwest Region Youth Championship.

Meg Hermann attends and rows for Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia. Hermann also currently rows for Banks Rowing Club. Outside of rowing, Hermann played Australian Rules football and was named a Victorian Amateur Football Association Anytime Fitness Rising Star nominee.

Like de Avila, Kelly Leonard rows with Los Gatos Rowing Club and is in her second year with LGRC. In her junior year, Leonard competed in the novice eight and novice four with coxswain events at the 2017 US Rowing Southwest Region Youth Championships. Leonard, who attends Presentation High School in San Jose, Calif., recently placed seventh in the junior second eight event at the 2017 Head of the Lagoon.

The seven signees are set to join an Aztec rowing team that has had a successful fall campaign in 2017 to follow several years of success in the American Athletic Conference. Under Zack’s direction, the program had a record-high four student-athletes named to the 2015 Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Scholar-Athlete list, three honored on the 2016 CRCA scholar-athlete list and two on the CRCA’s 2017 list. The team saw great success in the 2017 conference championship, medaling in two races and landing three Aztecs on the all-league team, while 27 student-athletes earned all-academic honors from the AAC in the 2016-17 season.

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