SM East graduate Matt Nestler says he took up rowing his freshman year at K-State as a way to fend off the freshman 15. Ten months after first settling into a boat, he finds himself heading to Berkeley to compete on one of the top DI programs in the country.
At 6’4″, 200 pounds, Nestler’s physique attracted the attention of the K-State club rowing team, which invited him to try out last fall during his freshman year.
“I was used to eating a lot when I was playing basketball [at SM East in high school],” he said. “I was looking for something to do to stay active.”
Turns out, he had quite a knack for the sport, quickly becoming the fastest rower on the team. But it was during training heading into the spring semester that Nestler realized he might have the talent to allow him to compete at a higher level.
During workouts on the ergometer, or “erg,” an indoor rowing machine that measures the amount of energy a rower puts out, Nestler found that his results put him among elite rowers at Division I college programs across the country. He started contacting DI schools to see if they had any interest in bringing him on board.
Within weeks, he had offers from and had made official visits to Boston University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California.
“From halfway through January to the beginning of March, I went from not really thinking about rowing at a DI program to, now, I’m going to California,” he said.
Nestler is back in northeast Johnson County for a week before leaving for the Bay Area, where he’ll spend the summer training to get ready for competition this fall.