For the 2019 rendition of the Little 500, qualification for the race was just about guaranteed. Only 65 total teams took to the track at Bill Armstrong Stadium for quals Saturday, matching the lowest count in 58 years.
With 33 men’s and 32 women’s teams scheduled to compete for their placement, they simply had to log a time in order to punch their ticket to the largest collegiate bike race in the country.
Late in the afternoon, the defending champion Cutters looked calm and confident as the team approached the recently groomed surface. But the Cutters’ first exchange, between Victor Grossling and Patrick Coulter, resulted in a fault.
“I think we had a little bit of nerves,” Huibregtse said. “Our rookie rider probably was a little overwhelmed, and all you can do is encourage him on the next one.”
Shortly after, the team would rebound. Cutters were gliding around the track and didn't make another mistake. Even before Cutters’ last leg Noble Guyon crossed the finish line, it was clear they would overtake Phi Kappa Psi for the fastest time in 2019.
Cutters will be on the pole for a second year in a row with a qualification time of 2:23.30, more than six seconds ahead of the runner-up. They’ll be gunning for a Little 500 win for the second year in a row.
“The time isn’t really important, it’s to show that we’re here,” Huibregtse said. “We are the contender. It’s not so much to make us a target for other teams. We are the dominant team here and posting a time like that shows it.”
On the women’s side, Delta Gamma led the women’s field for most of the day. It posted a time of 2:45.71 after being the seventh team to hit the pavement. It was much colder at the start of quals, contributing to slower times.
When the temperature started rising and more of the competitive teams made their attempts, Delta Gamma eventually fell. The team comprised of four seniors was unable to win quals for the third straight year.
Alpha Xi Delta, a team that has never recorded a top-five qualifications finish, raced into second place behind Delta Gamma with a time of 2:47.62 and finished in fifth at the end of the afternoon.
While the members of the crowd screamed in support of the team, the riders cried and hugged one another. They were in disbelief.
“It definitely got us excited when we saw all of our friends were here cheering us on, it definitely adds to the experience,” Alpha Xi Delta senior Katherine Evinger said. “We all just kind of wanted to cry a little bit, we did start crying a little bit.”
In the chaos, Ski finished three seconds ahead of Teter, the eventual runner-up, and took first place. The 2019 Qualifications champions have been a top-10 Little 500 team since they were created in 2014. Their time of 2:39.21 will lead the pole for the 32nd running of the women’s race.
To cap off the day, Melanzana was the only team to make a fourth attempt. Although it wasn't the slowest time and had only three riders, they will hold the rear come April as a result of their three faults. Every team in contention qualified for the race.
Editor’s note: Noble Guyon and Victor Grossling have both worked at the Indiana Daily Student.
Corrections: A previous version of a photo caption on this story incorrectly stated the date of the Little 500. A previous version of the story also incorrectly stated that the Cutters fault was between Victor Grossling and William Huibregtse. The IDS regrets these errors.