Rowing Spotlight: BriAnna Dittberner Previews Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational

Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational
Date March 12-13
Time All Day
Location Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Water Melton Lake Rowing Venue

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Kansas rowing begins official competition for the spring season in the fifth annual Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this weekend. The regatta will be held in at the Melton Lake Rowing Venue – the same site as the Big 12 Championships – and will feature four nationally ranked programs – No. 4 Virginia, No. 11 Michigan, No. 17 Notre Dame, and No. 20 Louisville. The 12-team field also includes, Alabama, UCF, Clemson, Michigan State, Minnesota, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The two-day event is hosted by the University of Louisville and will feature morning and afternoon racing on Saturday as well as morning racing on Sunday. Each day’s events are set to begin at approximately 8 a.m. Central time each day, with the afternoon session beginning at 2:10 p.m.

For live updates of this weekend’s regatta follow @KU_Rowing on Twitter. recently sat down with Topeka native and sophomore rower BriAnna Dittberner to reflect on this weekends Oak Ridge Cardinal Invitational:

What is the team’s level of excitement entering the spring season opener?
We are really excited for this weekend’s races. The team has been working really hard all year and this is our first chance to really show everyone that. Our team has been working extremely hard all year and we are all in really great shape. The training we have been doing this year has put us in a really good position going into this weekend. 

What do you expect from the race courses at Oak Ridge?
The Oak Ridge course is great. It is really open so you can watch the whole race from the side, plus it makes it a lot more exciting when you can hear people cheering for your team for the whole 2,000 meters. 

How did you get started in rowing and what made you fall in love with your sport?
I used to swim competitively, so now I get to breathe whenever I want which is pretty great. My experience transitioning to rowing has been great. I have always been in racing sports, so competing in rowing has been a great opportunity to do what I love – compete at a high level.

I first heard about rowing from a friend in high school who had actually had signed to row in college. After she told me about her experience, I decided to look more into it, and I really only wanted to try and go to KU because I really love it here. Rowing is the most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done, and I think I really fell in love with it when I realized that whatever work you put in, that is what you are going to get out. In other sports there are a lot of factors outside of your control, but with rowing it is all about you and the girls in your boat. That’s it.

After a year and a half of rowing what have you taken away from the sport?
I have learned that there is so much that goes into even just one stroke. You have to constantly be thinking about knee-break, rhythm, your blade, lots of things. I have also learned that even though it looks graceful, once you are in the boat it feels like the farthest thing from that. This sport is a lot of hard work and pushing yourself every day. 

What were your thoughts at your first regatta?
At my first regatta last year I was so scared I thought I was going to throw up. When you pull into the start docks and look over at your competition everything gets really real. Now, I have learned that you just have to focus in on the girls in your boat because that is the only thing you are going to be able to control in the race. 

What is a road trip memory you’d made since being at Kansas?
Last year on our way to a regatta in New Jersey we stopped in Philadelphia at a market and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It felt like I was in a movie because it was really dreary outside and then we walked in and it was so loud and there were people and little vendors everywhere. It was just a really awesome experience. 

What does being a member of the Kansas Rowing team mean to you?
For me, joining the Kansas Rowing team was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The team feels like a family and I get to hang out with my best friends all of the time, even when we are all suffering through tough workouts together. Kansas Rowing means pushing myself everyday with my best friends to show up on race day and show everyone that we are going to race our hearts out. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.