When friends suggested that she give rowing a try in the fall of 2009, Ashley Bauer thought it might be a good complement to her training for swimming.

When friends suggested that she give rowing a try in the fall of 2009, Ashley Bauer thought it might be a good complement to her training for swimming.

Little did she know that the sport would be her ticket to a college scholarship.

Now in her second season on the Westerville girls crew team, the 5-foot-11 1/2 senior at New Albany High School signed a letter of intent last Friday to compete in rowing for Ohio State.

"I was a year-round swimmer who swam on my high school team and in club for eight years," Bauer said. "My friends told me about crew, and I thought that I was going to cross train, but I did it for two days and then I decided to quit swimming. It was a tough decision, but I knew crew was what I wanted to do."

Bauer rowed in a novice boat last fall but competed on Westerville's open-weight varsity 8 boat last spring.

Her times the last few months on the erg machine, combined with her tall and lean body type, quickly got her on recruiters' radars.

Bauer also took official visits to Michigan, Clemson and the University of Miami before choosing Ohio State.

"She only started rowing last fall but she rowed on my heavyweight boat last spring and she's very tall, so she really got recruited all over the country," coach Trish Chase said. "This is really our first recruit to go to Ohio State. Height is everything in rowing, and she's about 6-0 and at a really good weight. She's really lean and muscular."

Bauer, who rowed in the seventh seat for the open-weight 8 boat last spring, helped the women's varsity 4 get third at the Head of the Hooch Regatta on Nov. 6-7 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The regatta is the second-largest in the country, and Westerville finished third among 43 prep programs.

Still, Bauer knows that she was "recruited a lot on potential."

"I've only been rowing for a little over a year, but I've pulled some pretty good numbers on the indoor rowing machines," Bauer said. "My times are equivalent to someone who has been rowing for four years. They seem to like the body type I have. Long and lean is pretty much what you're looking for in rowing."

The Buckeyes finished 14th at the 16-team NCAA championships won by Virginia last May.

Other central Ohio rowers on the OSU women's team include senior Erika Benford (Dublin Scioto) and junior Katie Coons (Upper Arlington).

Andy Teitelbaum has been Ohio State's only coach since the rowing program's inception in 1995. The Buckeyes have competed in 12 NCAA meets, including the last 11, and won Big Ten Conference titles in 2002 and '06.

"I took (official visits) to Michigan, Clemson and Miami of Florida, and going to Ohio State wasn't my top choice at first, but it definitely clicked," Bauer said. "When I was at Miami, it was so hot and humid. I feel like (the cold weather) is part of rowing because once you warm up, you're in a tank top and shorts.

"Academics is something else that also drew me to Ohio State. I don't have a specific thing in mind, but it'll probably be something in the sciences."