Rowers gear up for first regatta of season in Oak Ridge

OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Rowing season officially kicks off in East Tennessee this weekend with the sixth annual Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational.

It’s the first regatta of the year taking place at the Melton Lake Rowing Venue, and 12 of the best rowing teams in the country are getting ready to face off in the much anticipated rowing race.

“I love to race,” Madeleine Chesney, University of Louisville athlete, said. “I love being with my team and it’s a fun sport. The race course here is great. It’s just invigorating to be in a race and being with your teammates.”

The University of Louisville will host the weekend event on Melton Lake, and athletes have spent the past several months in training.

“We spend all winter preparing both inside and outside the water,” Jami Montesano, University of Louisville coach, said. “We prepare them both mentally and physically every day and we definitely think that they’re ready to take this on.”

The weekend will kick off with a 5,000 meter race Saturday morning and a 2,000 meter race in the afternoon.

All 12 teams came to win.

“We all thrive in this competitive atmosphere,” Chesney said. “We love going up against other people. They make us better.”

Athletes are looking forward to something new this year. 2017 marks the first year Melton Lake will offer an eighth lane, making Oak Ridge a destination spot for rowers around the world.

“It opens us up for U.S. rowing regattas, opens us up for world regattas, things like that,” Sarah McAuliffe, Oak Ridge Rowing Association Regatta Training Director, said. “So we’re hoping with this eighth lane and this pedestrian friendly greenway, we’re hoping to get more regattas here worldwide.>

The athletes said they could not be happier to kick the season off right here in East Tennessee.

“Oak Ridge is incredible in terms of the rowing community,” Montesano said. “I truly do believe it’s one of the best courses there are in the country. It’s just a really great community for rowers and spectators who love the sport.”

The 12 competing teams are Tennessee, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, Miami, Clemson, Tulsa, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Kansas.

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