Indiana Daily Student

2nd-place finishes annoy rider

Cornelius ready to help Fiji win in 2001 after back-to-back near misses

In 1999, senior Todd Cornelius got a great look at the rear wheel of Sigma Phi Epsilon rider Jason Baker's bicycle, falling .113 seconds short of Baker in a final sprint for first position in the Little 500. Cornelius and his Phi Gamma Delta team had to settle for second place.\nCornelius had a pretty good view of Chris Wojtowich riding past the entire field to win last year's Little 500 as well. Then a junior, Cornelius and his Fiji team finished second to the Cutters in the race's 50th running.\nLess than a month ago, Cornelius found himself in a familiar spot, second in a Little 500 competition. This time he sat behind Phi Delta Theta's Josh Beatty in the Individual Time Trials. \nCornelius is sick of second. So are his Fiji teammates. That's why their wheels are spinning, waiting to ride in the 51st running of the Little 500.\n"It's annoying to get second," Cornelius said. "I'm not out here just to have fun. I want to win the race. The second place finishes are bothersome."\nThe string of close finishes is weighing on the Fiji riders as they prepare for Saturday's race.\n"It's in the back of our minds, but it's in the past," junior rider Mike Nierengarten said. "We want to win, there's no question about it. Just like other teams, we would like to get first."\nAnd Nierengarten knows a top finish won't happen without Cornelius' help.\nRiding in his third and final race, Cornelius has his best chance to win his first team title. After a qualifying time three seconds faster than its closest competition, Fiji earned the poll with a time of 2:30.\n"It's all over in a blink of an eye," Cornelius said. "There's 33 teams out there, and 32 can't win. And while it's not all luck, there's some luck. We're ready to go."\nCornelius is a leader on and off the track for the five-membered Fiji team. Always riding, training and teaching, he is a constant example of the true nature of the race, Fiji rookie rider Adam Shields, a sophomore, said.\nWhether it be providing racing strategy or just a calming influence, Cornelius does more than pedal for Fiji.\n \n "He is the leader of our team," Shields said. "Being a first-year rider, I look up to him a lot. It's been a privilege to train with him, to see how he rides and to see how he handles himself."\nRather than prepare for the Little 500 at last week's practice race, Cornelius sat the event out, letting his four younger teammates get some much-needed time in a race situation, Shields said. \nOnly four will get to ride on race day, and Nierengarten and Cornelius are set for the race. \nFrom there, filling the line-up gets tricky: Shields and junior Andrew Wilson filled the slots for the qualifying run, but the lineup has rotated since then. The rider who sat out for qualifications, senior Sam Blossom, proved his worth with a fifth-place finish in Miss-N-Outs. \nWhichever four wear the green jerseys won't make a difference to the riders, Shields said, as long as the goal remains unchanged.\n"Whatever four we put out on the racetrack, they are going to be four of the best riders on campus," Shields said. "That's why I'm not worrying who makes the race."\nCornelius got into cycling from his brother John Cornelius, who was a Fiji rider in the late 1990s. When Todd was a sophomore, with his short career as a part of the IU hockey team ended because of shoulder problems, John suggested riding for Fiji.\nIn that first year, Cornelius learned a lot from his brother, the unofficial leader of the 1999 team. Now he's teaching the lessons to new Fiji riders such as Shields.\n"He called all the shots and told me what to do … it was nice, because I just rode," Cornelius said. "Now everyone comes to me with what to do."\nCornelius now prepares for his last race at Bill Armstrong Stadium. He knows the stadium well. He knows the track well. He's established himself as one of the elite riders, Nierengarten said. Now, he's trying to become an elite champion of IU's best-known intramural race.\n"He races with the top riders," Nierengarten said. "He's right up there with Beatty and (Jason) Sonneborn, day-in, day-out. He's one of the best"

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