Around lap 20 of the women’s Little 500, Teter looked like it might run away with a win. The Spring Series champions had senior Sarah Rieke, one of the top individual riders, on the bike and had pushed out their lead to close to a lap.
But Delta Gamma, Delta Sigma Pi and Kappa Alpha Theta worked together and were able to set up a four-team race to the finish for the last half of the race.
“There was a time in the beginning where Teter almost lapped the field, and we just held on and worked with the other teams, and that’s all you can really ask for,” Delta Gamma senior Jessica Lander said.
With four laps to go, the teams were still together in a pack. But Delta Gamma gave Lander the bike on an exchange, and she pulled away, securing her team its first Little 500 victory and becoming the fourth sorority in the history of the race to win the title.
“We were planning on it being a sprint because everyone just kind of sat up and was riding together for the last 30 or 40 laps,” Delta Gamma coach Ryan Knapp said. “We put our sprinter (Lander) on the bike with four to go, and I think and she felt good.”
Junior Kristina Heath completed the exchange with Lander on lap 96, giving her team a working lead after a good
“The strategy was to just sit in, knock out a few more laps and get a good burnout,” Heath said. “I built the gap and Jess just took it.”
Delta Gamma saw that Teter and Kappa Alpha Theta were ready to exchange the lap before, so they decided it was the right time to make a move.
“We knew Teter and Theta were going into an exchange,” Delta Gamma senior Julianne Ellis said. “So we kept our rider in and put in a hard lap to get a gap on those two to make them chase. When Jess got the bike, she was able to maintain that gap and basically did an ITT (Individual Time Trial) for a couple of laps.”
By the time Teter made its exchange and Rieke was on the bike, there was too much ground and not enough time to make up the distance.
“DG got away and had too big of a lead,” she said. “We couldn’t cut it much more than in half.”
Teter was able to win the sprint for second place, though, edging out Delta Sigma Pi and Kappa Alpha Theta.
Delta Sigma Pi senior Kate Rogoski rode the last leg for her team.
“That last lap I just saw three girls,” she said. “You can’t really do anything but give it your all.”
Kappa Alpha Theta rode in the top-two for much of the race but finished fourth in the end.
“We expended a lot of energy early chasing down Teter,” Kappa Alpha Theta senior Liz Pallotta said. “I think we rode a smart race, but at the end DG had what it took to close it out.”
While the Delta Gamma riders expected the race might come down to them and Teter, they had to adjust to the four-team pack.
“We kind of had a reactionary strategy,” Delta Gamma sophomore Lauren Half said. “You never know what is going to happen on the track. We were anticipating a one-on-one thing (with Teter), but this is great.”
IDS reporters Greg Rosenstein and Lee Hurwitz contributed to this report.
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