The 30th running of the women’s Little 500 is set to kick off at 4 p.m. Friday at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Last year’s winner, Phoenix, was composed entirely of seniors — and thus did not field a team this year — so a new champion will be crowned Friday.
Perennial powerhouses Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta look to lead the pack. With the two fastest qualification times, the two teams will begin the race in the first and second slots, respectively.
In addition to solid starting positions, both Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta have had a history of race-day success. Delta Gamma has finished fifth or better in six of the past seven years with two first-place finishes.
Kappa Alpha Theta has been just as good in terms of finishes, if not better. In the past five years, the team has won the race twice — in 2015 and 2016 — and finished second twice. The only time Kappa Alpha Theta failed to finish in the top two in that span was last year, when it ended in fourth.
This year, senior Evelyn Malcomb of Kappa Alpha Theta said her team has a very specific goal in mind — winning the race.
“Our team has always been a top team, a top program, so we really race to win,” Malcomb said. “If we do less, that’s always hard to swallow.”
Malcomb said to win the race, her team will need to stick to its strategy and avoid making silly mistakes.
“Our goal will be to execute everything that we’ve learned and all the strategy that we’ve been working on all year,” Malcomb said. “You never want to lose by making a mistake that you knew better, like missing a question on a math exam that you knew the answer to.”
Despite going back and forth with Delta Gamma in the spring series and anticipated competition from other teams such as SKI, Alpha Omicron Pi and Phi Mu, Malcomb said she actively engages in and enjoys the competitive nature of the race.
“There are always good teams, and it makes it better,” Malcomb said. “Riding against people that have been working hard and competing makes it even more worthwhile. While it sounds nice to win alone without hard competition, it’s not as sweet.”
As a sophomore two years ago, Malcomb was a member of the 2015 team that won the race. She said the experience was invaluable, and she will use it to help her team succeed this year.
“I’ve seen both sides of it, and I know which side I want to be on,” Malcomb said. “It’s the carrot to chase, and I’ve had it before, so I know that it’s worth putting it all on the line to do it again.”
Set to graduate in May, Malcomb will be riding in her last Little 500 tomorrow, a fact she acknowledges with a bit of sadness. She said the Little 500 community has been a vital aspect of her college career and she looks forward to leaving her final mark on the race.
“It’s a realization you don’t get until you’re actually a senior — that the race is so much bigger than just winning or losing,” Malcomb said. “It’s awesome just to participate, and I’m just going to be taking it all in.”
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