The men’s Little 500 ITT team title came down to the last rider in the last heat.
And it ended in a tie.
Black Key Bulls and Beta Theta Pi were named co-champions of ITT’s after both accumulating up three-man totals of 23 points.
Cutters’ Nicholas Thiery became the first rider since RJ Stuart in 2012 to break the 2:20 ITT barrier to capture the men’s individual crown with a time of 2:19.94.
But at the end of the night, all the attention turned to how close the team title was.
Beta’s Joe Laughlin nearly gave his team the title outright. The last rider of the night, Laughlin needed to finish 17th place or better, meaning he needed to time in under 2:24.92.
He finished at 2:24.92.
That put him in a tie with Cutters’ Brian Depasse. Depasse was awarded the tiebreaker and 17th place after throwing out both riders’ quickest and slowest times as taken by three different stopwatches.
Officially, Black Key Bulls and Beta tied for first with 23 points. Phi Delta Theta was in third with 31 points.
Going into his final run, Laughlin said he wasn’t told the time he needed to beat, but his teammates knew.
Ultimately, he got exactly the time he needed. A tiebreaker just didn’t fall his way.
“I knew there was an opportunity to take the first position,” Laughlin said. “It didn’t necessarily change anything I did. I just let my body and legs take over.”
Beta was led by 2014 ITT champion Chris Craig taking second place, .6 seconds behind Thiery, and Kyle Knight who rounded out the podium in third.
Black Key Bulls responded to Beta’s top-5 finishers with depth.
The defending champs put three riders in the top-10 and four riders in the top-14. Spencer Brauchla led the way in sixth place. Tyler Hart followed closely behind in seventh.
Add on finishes of 25th, 45th and 52nd and Black Key Bulls finished with seven riders in the top-52 spots. Despite returning only Brauchla from last year’s championship team, Black Key Bulls feels like it has the best depth in the field.
“A lot of teams have are a very strong 1-2 punch, one of the things we showed tonight is that we also have a strong four, five, six, just all the way through,” Brauchla said. “I think that will really help us come race day.”
Phi Delta Theta’s Rob Lee finished in fourth place at 2:21.09, but said he was disappointed with his personal results after feeling like he left more out on the track.
Luke Tormoehlen (Delta Tau Delta) and Brauchla rounded out the top-6 positions.
All six of the top riders beat the 2014 pole, 2:22.93, set by Craig. Track conditions certainly played a factor into it, but so did the experience of six of the top seven riders from 2014 returning in 2015.
“I think it was kind of both,” Lee said. “Having so many guys come back, that and the track conditions were great. Just about ideal. I don’t think you could ask for many nights like that. It was definitely a combination of both of them.”
Now that qualifying and ITT’s have wrapped up, riders will have an off-weekend before Miss-n-Outs and Team Pursuit April 18-19.
The race for the Spring Series crown and the white jersey that go with it still appear up in the air with Beta and Black Key Bulls leading the way for now.
Black Key Bulls has made it no secret that they want the white jersey back again after winning it in 2014. To them, it’s not just bragging rights on the rest of the field, but confidence that they can repeat as champions.
“It’s a big confidence builder because up until now, you don’t really have a measuring stick against other teams,” Hart said. “Now, we’ve been able to start measuring yourself and you see (hard work) pays off. It reaffirms what you already knew. We just need to keep building on it.”