On April 22, the day of the 67th running of the men’s Little 500, most teams will take to the track with four riders. Additionally, most teams have multiple backup riders who did not make their teams’ race-day squad. However, one team will enter the race with only two riders — Sigma Alpha Mu.
Senior Sam Lansat and sophomore Adam Goot’s path to qualify for Little 500 certainly differs from the norm.
After failed attempts at recruiting other riders, the team took to the track for the first time this year five days before qualifications.
Lansat said he was confident in himself and Goot going into qualifications given their athleticism and experience in the race. Both rode for Sigma Alpha Mu last year.
“Going into quals we thought we were going to be right on the edge,” Lansat said. “We knew our exchanges were great because we’ve done it in years past. We just went in there trying to sprint our hardest knowing we can take the pain and see what happens.”
Sigma Alpha Mu faulted during its first two attempts of qualifying. The first was caused by a chain drop, and the second was caused by a mishandled exchange.
“We were shaken up,” Lansat said. “Emotions were rising, but when we went back to our house to calm down we said this has never happened before — that it was a fluke. We went into the third one confident, and obviously we pulled it off.”
On their third attempt, Sigma Alpha Mu qualified for Little 500 in 24th position with a time of 2:34.166.
This year, the team took a new approach to training. It began doing CrossFit as a way to build endurance and power in the members’ legs.
“Through the past years, we’ve biked a lot,” Lansat said. “CrossFit hits home with the pain element of going through quals and we figured that would be a good way to get into it.”
For Lansat, riding in Little 500 means everything. He said representing his fraternity and keeping the tradition alive were important to him despite the difficulties of riding on a two-man team. He said participating in the race for a fourth time and earning the four-year rider award is an honor and a motivator.
“I was obviously disappointed when I realized we couldn’t get together a whole team of four,” Lansat said. “When I realized it was just going to be the two of us, I thought, ‘We can’t just give up. We have to try to qual, and we still have to represent our fraternity.’”
Lansat said he wants the week of the race to have meaning for Sigma Alpha Mu.
“I feel like the whole week of Little 500 everyone parties but to me it doesn’t really mean anything unless you have something to cheer for,” Lansat said. “That was really my goal. I wanted the week to mean more than one big party week to my fraternity.”
The future of the Sigma Alpha Mu team is up in the air. With Lansat graduating, Goot will be the only returning rider next year. Goot said he will only race for Sigma Alpha Mu and will have a similar mindset going into next year.
“It could be a cool tradition for Sammy to have a two-person bike team every year,” Goot said. “All I need is one person.”
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