Bailee Thomas almost took up rowing as an afterthought.

She ran track and played volleyball for not only Wagoner High School, but in college at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

“I went to UCO to run track and competed in the pentathlon,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know anything about rowing. I didn’t know we had a rowing team.”

UCO had novice tryouts and Thomas picked up an oar and gave it a shot. She made the team.

“Last year, I rowed as a novice,” Thomas said. “I made the travel team as a National alternate.”

UCO has a great NCAA Division II rowing squad. It competes and practices on the Bricktown course as well as traveling to other rowing venues.

“It’s super fun and there’s a great group of girls and nice coaches,” Thomas said. “Our school really takes care of us.”

The 2019 NCAA Division II rowing championships took place in Indianapolis. UCO won the National title during the event from May 31-June 2.

Thomas was not an alternate this year, but was part of the rowing 8 and 4s that won first place.

Thomas admitted that rowing can be physically and mentally demanding, but the senior proved she could adapt and contribute.

She just finished her fourth year at UCO, but will come back and row again next year. Thomas has eligibility left and the 2015 Wagoner grad hopes to one day be a Crime Scene Investigator.

John covers news and sports for the Wagoner County American-Tribune. Phone: 918-485-5505