After one delay, a possible cancellation and another delay at Saturday’s qualifications, the field for the women’s Little 500 is set. Melanzana Cycling took the pole with a qualifying time of 2:41.47.
This is Melanzana’s fourth year as a team. With all four riders the same as last year’s qualifying team, senior Katie Reynolds said experience was a major advantage.
“Our exchanges have been really good all spring,” said Reynolds, who will be racing in her third Little 500. “It felt really good during practice, so we were pretty excited that we were able to do it during quals as well.”
The first 24 teams of the day — 14 men’s and 10 women’s — posted times before qualifications were delayed due to poor track conditions. A frozen surface early in the day turned to a slick track, causing several faults and wrecks.
Once the standing water was gone and track was repaired, qualifications resumed. All 24 teams who qualified before the break were given the option to attempt a faster time at the end of the day.
Melanzana became polesitter for the first time in its history. And for the first time in Little 500 history, with Wright Cycling taking the men’s pole, both polesitters were independents.
“For two independent teams to be on the pole together, that’s a big deal,” Reynolds said. “It shows kind of the diversity of the race that I think some of the time is not represented as well.”
Collins Cycling and Northern Indiana Cycling both scratched out of the women’s race, so all 33 teams attempting to qualify made the 33-team field. Knowing all they needed to do to qualify was have a clean run, some teams slowed down their exchanges and were more cautious on turns.
Melanzana went in just wanting to qualify — taking the pole was an added benefit.
“We were just going to kind of do our own thing, make sure we had good exchanges and we were riding hot last,” senior Liz Murzyn said.
Gamma Phi Beta posted a second-place time of 2:44.63 on the women’s side, while the 2014 Little 500 Champion Kappa Alpha Theta took third (2:45.16), Ski placed fourth (2:45.36) and Alpha Gamma Delta fifth (2:47.002).
Alpha Chi Omega, last year’s polesitter, dropped to sixth. Teter, which took the pole in four of the past eight years and finished runner-up in the 2014 race, fell into the 18th spot.
But a team’s qualification spot isn’t always an indication of where they’ll place come race day.
Teter is one example, qualifying 10th in 2014 but finishing as the Little 500 runner-up. Melanzana is another. They qualified second but dropped to eighth on race day.
Reynolds said it’s difficult to compare qualifications to the actual race because they’re such different formats.
“Just the type of pressure that quals has — four laps, just you and your team out there,” she said. “The race is obviously a lot longer, there’s a whole different strategy and mindset to it.”
It does, however, put them at the front of the pack to start the race.
“It’s a huge honor to win the green jersey, and it’s also huge being in that first spot,” Reynolds said.
2015 Women’s Little 500 Field
1. Melanzana (2:41.47)
2. Gamma Phi Beta (2:44.63)
3. Kappa Alpha Theta (2:45.16)
4. Ski (2:45.36)
5. Alpha Gamma Delta (2:47.002)
6. Alpha Chi Omega (2:47.02)
7. Phoenix Cycling (2:48.15)
8. CSF (2:48.74)
9. Delta Gamma (2:48.87)
10. Cru (2:49.10)
11. Phi Mu (2:49.77)
12. Wing It (2:51.66)
13. Delta Sigma Pi (2:51.74)
14. Alpha Sigma Alpha (2:53.63)
15. Kappa Delta (2:54.00)
16. Alpha Omicron Pi (2:54.42)
17. Alpha Xi Delta (2:54.78)
18. Teter (2:56.35)
19. Kappa Kappa Gamma (2:58.01)
20. Alpha Delta Pi (2:59.25)
21. Theta Phi Alpha (3:00.21)
22. RideOn (3:00.71)
23. IU Nursing (3:01.08)
24. Pi Beta Phi (3:02.10)
25. Chi Omega (3:03.08)
26. Zeta Tau Alpha (3:04.55)
27. Sigma Delta Tau (3:09.90)
28. Delta Zeta (3:10.11)
29. Alpha Epsilon Phi (3:12.57)
30. Delta Phi Epsilon (3:18.91)
31. Independent Council (3:18.96)
32. Alpha Phi (3:22.19)
33. Delta Delta Delta (3:25.25)