May 17, 2017
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Freshman Tayla-May Bentley earned Big Ten Rowing Freshman of the Year honors, the conference announced on Wednesday (May 17). Bentley is the seventh Wolverine to earn the rookie of the year distinction and gives U-M back-to-back winners of the award, with Meghan Gutknecht earning the honor last spring.
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Bentley has made an immediate impact with the program. She wasted little time working her way into the first varsity eight boat, where she has sat in the six seat most of the season.
"Tayla-May has made a huge impact on our team in a short span of time, and we are very proud that she has earned this recognition," said head coach Mark Rothstein, who has coached all seven U-M Freshman of the Year honorees.
"She has an enthusiastic appreciation for the sport and she channels that energy to her teammates every day. Tayla quietly worked hard all winter, coming in to meet with coaches to get additional information on how she could improve and continue to set lofty goals for herself," Rothstein said. "Her appreciation for the team and the opportunity to race has had a positive impact on our team culture, especially since she's found herself sitting six seat in the 1V8 boat. Hopefully this is just the start of what will be an accomplished career for her at Michigan."
With contributions from Bentley, the U-M 1V8 crew has maintained a consistently high level of performance all season long, as evidenced by the team's upholding of a top-five national ranking all season long.
In addition to Bentley's honor, four Wolverines collected All-Big Ten recognition on Sunday (May 14). Senior Kaitlin Wright and junior Kendall Brewer were named All-Big Ten first team selections while seniors Louisa Freeman and Tessa Yurko were awarded second team honors.
A native of Lakeville, Minnesota, Wright is in her third season rowing on the first varsity eight boat, rowing in stroke seat. She was a CRCA second team All-America selection in 2016 and a second team all-region selection the year prior.
Brewer was invited to USRowing's U23 Selection Camp last week for the second time in her career, and she rows in the No. 7 seat of the first varsity eight. The Austin, Texas, native was a Pocock second team All-American in 2016 and CRCA second team all-regional selection the year prior. Wright and Brewer each earned their second career first team all-conference honor with this year's accolades.
Freeman, a native of Westport, Connecticut, rows in bow seat and is in her fourth year on first varsity eight. She earned CRCA all-region honors in 2015 and now earns her third consecutive second team all-conference honor, while Yurko is receiving her second Big Ten recognition.
Yurko, a Buffalo, New York, native, was the second of Michigan's three athletes to receive USRowing U23 Selection Camp invitations (Brewer and Gutknecht) last week. She is in the No. 4 seat of the first varsity eight, which she has been a member of since spring of 2015.
Michigan will compete for the 10th consecutive season and 18th time overall at the NCAA Championships next weekend (May 26-28) in West Windsor, New Jersey, beginning with heats at 7 a.m. on Friday.
Communications Contact: Chad Shepard