In four years, Monona Grove swimmer Tyler Roehr showed a level of improvement not often seen in high school athletes.
Roehr’s meteoric rise led him to both individual and team success, leading the Silver Eagles to a state championship in February. On Friday, the senior’s journey reached new heights as Roehr signed a letter of intent to swim for the University of Cincinnati, an NCAA Division I program.
Wearing a red and black Cincinnati T-shirt, Roehr beamed as he signed his letter with his parents Paul and Diana, along with younger sister Alyssa, by his side. He can’t wait to become a Bearcat.
“Athletics are just celebrated there; it’s a beautiful campus,” Roehr said. “The football field, the basketball courts, the swimming pool, it’s all right in the center of campus – it’s one of the top 10 most beautiful campuses in the country.”
Roehr will join veteran coach Monty Hopkins, who just completed his 23rd year directing both the UC men’s and women’s swimming and diving squads. At UC, Hopkins has coached 12 (men’s and women’s) conference championship teams, along with two NCAA individual champions and three Olympic qualifiers. He’s coached 12 NCAA All-Americans and 14 Academic All-Americans.
Roehr’s goal is to join that list.
“I just feel like the coach can really help me reach my goals, he’s coached former Olympians and Subway champions,” Roehr said. “And it’s a really rebuilding program, they just got their scholarships back after five to seven years off. It’s a really rebuilding effort and I feel I can reach my potential there.”
Roehr has been in contact with UC since January. After taking a campus visit a couple weeks ago, the MG senior fell in love with the environment.
“I went in thinking I was going to Valparaiso and that with Cincinnati, I was going there to clarify that, but I just loved (Cincinnati),” Roehr said.
At UC, the Bearcats’ coaching staff plans to use Roehr in what he does best, the breaststroke. He’s also excited to try sprint relays. As a freshman, Roehr will go wherever Hopkins tells him to.
“They liked how much I’ve improved; freshman year, I was nowhere close to going to state. I was 16th at sectionals, wasn’t on any state relays,” Roehr said. “Sophomore year, I dropped eight seconds in my 100 breaststroke, followed that by dropping another two (seconds) in each of the next two years … my (individual medley) just dropped a crazy amount of time, so they just liked to see that.”
While he was already on the Bearcats’ radar, Roehr’s success at state prompted UC to offer him a scholarship that covers about 50 percent of his tuition.
Roehr follows in the footsteps of former MG swimming and diving standouts Trevor Sisson and Jake Allen who both received D-I scholarships. Sisson dives for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, while Allen is a budding star with the University of Iowa. Roehr said versatility is the key to attracting D-I recruits.
“If you work hard, it just shows, having a good foundation going into high school. If you put the time and the hours in away from the pool, anything can happen,” Roehr said.
For MG head coach Kelly Chadesh, Roehr is the second boys swimmer to go D-I, following Allen last year.
“I know he’ll be a valuable member of any team he joins, but especially this team,” Chadesh said. “He’s just extremely dedicated to his sport. I would say this about any sport, but especially swimming, you have to be on it year-round, 24/7, if you’re going to be successful. He’s been able to push himself to that point, and also be happy and enjoying what he’s doing because there’s been people who have burned out and have really struggled and they’ve been very successful swimmers.”
To balance the rigors of high-level competition and academics at a D-I university, an athlete must be dedicated, focused and organized. Huson said Roehr has those traits, along with a positive attitude that pleases coaches and teammates.
“He kind of just goes and does what he needs to do; he’s always been able to meet the practice requirements. My goodness, from freshman to senior year, he’s made leaps and bounds. He’s done a good job outside the pool getting faster and stronger, and that’s what will really set him apart,” Chadesh said. “It’s going to be an adjustment, going from that leadership role to being a small fish in a large pond and seeing the depth of talent there. But I don’t see that as being a huge issue once he figures it out and does what he needs to do.”
After his career at UC is over, Roehr plans to attend physical therapy school. He’ll major in health sciences with an emphasis in physiology.
“I’ll just use that to do what I love: help other athletes or help other people get back to their daily lives,” he said. “It’s just hands-on medicine.”