With the conclusion of the Spring Series, there’s now less than one week until the 32nd running of the women’s Little 500. Thirty-two teams will compete for first place at Bill Armstrong Stadium on Friday.
Kappa Alpha Theta brought home its eighth team victory last year, the most in women’s race history. After winning four of the last five, Kappa Alpha Theta is looking to be the first women’s team to ever win three in a row. However, there’s tough competition awaiting them in the upcoming race.
SKI will enter Friday’s with the pole position after finishing quals in first place with a time of 2:39.21, followed by Teter and Delta Gamma. Kappa Alpha Theta slots in at the 11th spot to begin the race.
“I think the biggest advantage to winning quals is you get to pick your pit,” SKI senior Emily Carrico said. “That was something we were really happy about.
SKI will be closely followed by Teter and Delta Gamma at the start of the race, but they’ll use their positioning to keep themselves safe from crashes. The field saw two crashes within the first 15 laps in 2018.
Teams are required to have a minimum of five exchanges throughout the duration of the race. Selecting a pit in the front of the rest of the field and near an experienced team like Delta Gamma allows them to lose little time after exchanges.
“The nice thing about having the end pit that we have is that you don’t have someone on your other side that you have to worry about,” Carrico said. “We’re next to DG and they always have great, really consistent exchanges.”
Delta Gamma is one of the top teams in the field. It finished third in Qualifications this year, but ended the Spring Series with three of the top-six ITT times and a first-place finish in Team Pursuit.
“It’s mostly just about being the best you can be on that day,” Delta Gamma senior Hanna Coppens said. “Hopefully that means getting a lot of sleep and then making sure that you’ve prepared well up to that point.”
Delta Gamma is returning every member from a squad that placed second last year, including three seniors. In 2018, it lost 22 seconds in a crash, but made its way back to finish less than a second behind Kappa Alpha Theta.
Being in the Midwest can result in fairly unpredictable weather conditions. Last year, snow covered the field during Qualifications and rain cut this year’s Miss N Out to only one round, but a clear day for racing is in the forecast for this year’s Little 500.
The forecast for Friday includes rain during the day. Riders may have to account for undesirable track conditions and combat the wind that is expected to accompany the weather.
All the hours, the training and the coordination will culminate when the teams takes the track this week. For seniors like Carrico and Coppens, this is the final time their feet will touch the cinders as a rider. All they can hope for is to go out with a victory.
“As a graduating senior, that’s the best gift you can possibly give to your team,” Carrico said. “We’ve really tried to instill a lot of good values in our younger riders. Just being able to leave them with that gift of all of your hard work paying off. That, of course, is our hope.”
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