On a cold Saturday at Bill Armstrong Stadium, qualifications for one of the biggest sporting events of the school year took place as 22 cycling teams punched their tickets to the 34th running of the Women’s Little 500, scheduled to be run on Friday, April 22.
Dubbed as the “The World’s Greatest College Weekend,” the Little 500 is the largest collegiate bike race in the country and is modeled after the Indianapolis 500. Four-person teams race 100 laps each — 25 miles — around the dirt track at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Teams were each given three attempts each to bike four laps — one per team member — around the quarter-mile track without any fouls, which most often occur on the exchanges.
Leading the way on the women’s side was Kappa Alpha Theta sorority’s bike team, which clocked in a time of 2:55.12 in the morning portion of the qualifications, a time that remained at the top for the rest of the chilly afternoon.
Fans packed inside Indiana’s soccer venue for the first time in three years, and many fans had this date marked down on their calendars. Parties on North Eagleson Avenue were buzzing as early as 7:30 a.m. before the qualification rounds started at 8 a.m.
Wind played a role in the teams’ performances on the track, resulting in worse times across the board compared to the 2019 qualification rounds. There was no race held in 2020, and although there was a race last year, there were no spectators allowed and no qualification event held.
Four women’s sides broke the three-minute mark, as Alpha Chi Omega, Theta Phi Alpha, and SKI joined leader Kappa Alpha Theta as just four of 22 teams to break the mark. Kappa Kappa Gamma rounded out the top five with a time of 3:01.40. SKI won the qualifiers three years ago with a time of 2:39.21, and it finished with a time of 2:59.77 on Saturday.
Kappa Alpha Theta finished in third place in the women’s Little 500 race last year, less than a minute behind the winners, Delta Gamma. Kappa Alpha Theta also finished 10th in qualifiers back in 2019 with an eerily similar time of 2:56.13. The sorority ended the race that year with an eighth-place finish.
Delta Gamma was unable to retain its pole position in Saturday’s qualification rounds, finishing in 10th with a time of 3:05.79, 10 seconds behind the leaders.
Rounding out the 22-team field in last place was the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority with a time of 4:03.20.
All of the women’s cycling teams will have just under a month to prepare for the most grueling race of the season. The women’s Little 500 race is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. April 22.