The University of Michigan is located in the heart of Big Ten country.
But as the Wolverines prepare for their first season of Division I lacrosse, they have established a recruiting pipeline to the East Coast that extends beyond the borders of the three states that comprise the nation’s No. 1 hotbed for lacrosse, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and well into New England.
As we told you on Twitter, the Wolverines have landed commitments from a pair of standouts from New Hampshire and Rhode Island: Christian Wolter (pictured above), a senior lefty midfielder from Hanover, N.H., and Mitchell Kelln (pictured at right), a junior attackman/midfielder from Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island.
“I was extremely impressed with everything at Michigan and really liked the coaching staff,” Wolter said. “I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with both (Head) Coach (John) Paul and (Assistant) Coach (Judd) Lattimore and just felt great about what they had to say and their plan to build this program into a leading D-I program for student-athletes.
“Having grown up in a small rural New England college town, a large school like Michigan in a different part of the country with great on campus social options interested me.
“I was very impressed with the facilities and clear commitment of the university to its new lacrosse program. Given my interest in business and economics, the Ross Business School and its facilities were especially appealing along with the academic supports that are in place for student-athletes.”
Wolter, who will attend Michigan after taking a post-graduate year, considered several NESCAC schools, including Tufts, Williams and Wesleyan, as well as Bucknell and Dartmouth, which is located in his hometown of Hanover.
“I had planned visits to Dartmouth and Bucknell, but never had a chance to get to those schools. I was really impressed by Coach (Andy) Towers at the Dartmouth Camp, but I have to admit I had some misgivings about remaining in Hanover and other schools in rural locations since I want my college experience to be new.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Wolter, a physical, two-way player with strong offensive skills, finds that his ability to get after ground balls has been boosted by his play as a defenseman in hockey.
I have always played defense and quarterbacked my hockey teams from the point,” Wolter said. “Hockey is a fast game with a lot of puck movement and corner work which has helped me see the lacrosse field and in ground ball situations, which I just love. Anticipation is a big part of hockey and again this skill translates well to lacrosse.”
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Kelln has a strong outside shot, also considered Villanova and Rutgers.
Kelln, who lived in California before moving to Rhode Island, said his familiarity with Michigan athletics in general was a big factor in his decision – even though both his parents are graduates of rival Ohio State University.
“I grew up watching Michigan football with my older brother,” Kelln said. “As a big Pistons fan, the location could not be any better. I also know a few other players on the team, (defensive midfielder) Daniel Edelstein (of Los Angeles) and (faceoff middie) Alex Marcus (a product of the Brunswick School in Connecticut), who only had good things to say about the program. Going into the unofficial visit, I had a few doubts but I really enjoyed my time there and it made the decision even easier.:
Kelln and Edelstein played against one another in California.
“He (Edelstein) attended Harvard-Westlake in California and we always had a rivalry,” Kelln said. “I’m looking forward to playing alongside of him for the first time.”
Kelln is also looking to help Michigan grow into a Division I power.
“One of the decision factors appealing to me that Coach Paul laid out was being a part of something that will grow exponentially very quickly,” he said. “The resources Michigan has are unmatched by any school and I am very excited to be a part of this program headed for excellence in the very near future.”
Wolter may be the first player from New Hampshire to join Michigan since it upgraded to D-I, but he doesn’t expect to be the last.
“My father coached baseball so I played that sport as my primary spring sport through sixth grade,” Wolter said. “A friend of mine convinced me to try lacrosse in sixth grade as well and I immediately knew that my baseball career was over.
“Because I started playing kind of late, I’m not sure I can say for sure that there is more interest necessarily. I do know that there are a lot of good players in New Hampshire, but many end up in prep school in their junior or senior seasons. Also, there is no question that more players are looking for offseason club options like the New Hampshire Tomahawks, a great program run by the Bishop Guertin coach. I think this is where most of the growth has been.”
Wolter became connected with the Long Island Sting program through a co-worker of his father’s, Carl Lovejoy, the father of University of Virginia senior defenseman Matt Lovejoy, a native of Orford, N.H.
“I have played mostly with them (the Sting) the past two summer and fall seasons, and I owe a lot to (Sting) Coach (Ken) Miller and his staff, who encouraged me to PG and pursue D-I.”
Kelln has two high school seasons remaining before he joins the Big Blue. But there’s already one game he can’t wait to play in.
“Ohio State vs. Michigan is going to be a game to remember,” he said. “Not only is it a huge rivalry on arguably lacrosse’s biggest stage, but the family rivalry will be huge as both of my parents were Buckeyes.
“The atmosphere is going to be crazy. There will be people filling the stands and I’ll be playing in ‘The Big House’ on the same field as legends that graduated from Michigan.
“But I am still wondering if I am going to see my parents in the Michigan maze or the Ohio State crimson. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a game to remember for the entire lacrosse community.”
*For more on Christian Wolter, check out his player profile.
*For more on Mitchell Kelln, including his highlight film, check out his player profile.
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* For a look at how schedules for teams from throughout the region for the 2012 season are shaping up, be sure to check out the “Schedules galore” thread.
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