Pine-Richland rower commits to West Virginia University

Friday, April 19, 2019 | 1:30 AM


Pine-Richland senior Grace Crankovic did her homework before deciding where to continue her rowing career.

Crankovic, 18, of Pine, signed a letter of intent to the West Virginia women’s team.

“Grace was very meticulous during the entire recruitment process,” Pine-Richland coach Sam DiMarzio said. “From the moment she decided she wanted to row in college, she did a lot of research into the schools that were interested in her and took it upon herself to connect with schools that were outside of our usual scope.

“Every coach I spoke with raved about how forward and engaged she was in learning about their programs.”

The 5-foot-7 Crankovic said she was recruited by Ohio State, Duquesne, Connecticut and Dayton.

Crankovic, a finalist in a high school junior 4+ at the Midwest Scholastic Championship last season, said she loved West Virginia’s coaches and team environment.

“They genuinely cared about me as a person and tried to get to know me beyond rowing,” said Crankovic, who plans a double major in business and exercise physiology and wants to go to law school. “I felt that I could make a meaningful contribution to the success of the team.

“The program wants the athletes to pursue their academics first and foremost and help us to do so, which was the most important factor in my decision. Finally, the state of West Virginia is absolutely stunning, and the school offers countless opportunities to go out and explore it.”

West Virginia coach Jimmy King expects Crankovic to contribute in her first year to the Mountaineers, who placed fifth among conference teams in the Big 12 championship regatta last season.

“Not only do we expect her to contribute on the water, but off the water,” King said. “Grace has demonstrated positive character and leadership traits during her time at Pine- Richland.”

DiMarzio said Crankovic is a leader for the Rams and believes she will play a similar role for the Mountaineers.

“Given her (background) and her confidence, the sky is the limit,” DiMarzio said. “We have only graduated a handful of girls over the last several years.

“I think Grace’s recruitment has definitely opened a pipeline for our younger rowers to have similar success and see that they have what it takes to compete at the collegiate level.”

Crankovic, who took up rowing just two years ago, said it always has been a dream of hers to play a Division I sport.

“When I joined (the rowing team), I knew there were a lot of scholarship opportunities for women’s rowing,” she said. “It is still surreal to have my dream become reality.”