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Top Little 500 contenders dominate field during Spring Series



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Forest rider Hank Duncan celebrates after his team recorded a time of 2 minutes and 31.15 seconds at Little 500 Qualifications on March 23 at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Forest is one of the top five-placing teams for the men's Little 500 race April 13. Sam House Buy Photos

In the preceding weeks leading up to the largest collegiate bike race in the nation, a collection of four events take place that showcase the upcoming talent in each year's race field.

The events include Qualifications, which determines the starting position for each team during Little 500; Individual Trial Times and Miss N Out; which both crowns the best individual rider, and culminates in Team Pursuit, which pits two teams head-to-head with the faster time moving on to the subsequent rounds.

Beginning with Qualifications on March 23, the 33-team men’s field played out largely as expected. Last year’s Little 500 winner, Cutters, showed it’s still a top contender by posting a time of 2:23.30, six seconds faster than any other team, and earning the pole position for the second consecutive year.

Rounding out the men’s top-five placings were Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Delta Theta, Forest and Black Key Bulls.

On the women’s side, Delta Gamma paced the field for much of the day after crossing the finish line with a time of 2:45.71. However, as the day went on,both SKI and Teter eventually overtook Delta Gamma with times of 2:39.21 and 2:42.90 respectively, with the pole position going to SKI.

Finishing in third, fourth and fifth places were Delta Gamma, CRU and Alpha Xi Delta.

On March 27, all 342 riders reconvened at Bill Armstrong Stadium for ITTs.

The men’s 58th heat was the most competitive all day as the eventual winner, Xavier Martinez, a member of Black Key Bulls, and Noble Guyon, a member of Cutters, jockeyed for first place. Martinez edged out Guyon to win the heat.

For the women, Teter’s Lauren Britt claimed first place of the field with a time of 2:36.90 in Heat 61. The pole winner for the Little 500 race, SKI, had six riders finish in the top 30 at ITTs.

The ITTs were supposed to act as placement positions for the Miss N Out event on March 30. However, only the first round of Miss N Out was completed before the IU Student Foundation officially cancelled the rest of the event, citing heavy rainfall and unsafe racing conditions.

Rounding out the Spring Series was the Team Pursuit event. With comfortable 60-degree temperatures and partly cloudy skies, both the men and women were able to put up record times.

No women’s team had clocked in under eight minutes in the Team Pursuit since Teter in 2011. At the 2019 event, Delta Gamma, which will start in third position for the Little 500, took home the victory,edging out SKI by about 10 seconds with a time of 7:59.92, and capping off a dominant day for the team.

Undertaking a similar storyline, the men’s field was in search of its first sub-nine minute heat since Black Key Bulls achieved the feat in 2015. Both Gray Goat and Black Key Bulls had an opportunity to top that as the two teams faced off in the championship heat.

It would be Gray Goat, slated to start in fifth position for the Little 500, that would post a time of 8:59.83 and clinch the men’s Team Pursuit crown.

Up next is the Little 500 race itself, and if the 2019 Spring Series was any indication, it’ll be as competitive of a race as it's been in years.

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