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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports little 500

Team Pursuits: Kappa Alpha Theta sweeps series; Black Key Bulls places both teams in finals

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Just as the frenzy of March Madness grips the nation with close matchups and bracket-busting upsets, Little 500 had a similar frenzy in the Team Pursuit event Sunday. 

Two titans of the women’s Little 500 field had a showdown in the Team Pursuit finals. Kappa Alpha Theta and Teter, close in the running for the Spring Series title, settled the standings at Bill Armstrong Stadium’s cinder track. 

“Teter is a really strong team,” Kappa Alpha Theta’s Bailey Cappella said following the preliminary heat. “Our time doesn’t matter as much in the first heat, so we need to put our heads down and work hard.“ 

A short rain shower and lightning delay prior to the final heat affected the flow of teams, which sought shelter whilst simultaneously warming up. 

“I think the best thing for the track is a light shower,” Race director Emily Carrico said during the delay. A damp track can improve grip on the cinders, allowing riders to turn more aggressively. 

Following a short break, both teams began their series-defining races. Teter took an early lead, finding itself five seconds ahead by lap five.  

Teter’s Jessica DiBella dropped from the team’s paceline on lap nine, leaving Seneca Simon, Cecilia Ball and Allison Edgar to ride the final six laps. 

Kappa Alpha Theta’s lineup of Audrey La Valle, Claire Tips, Greta Heyl and Bailey Capella narrowed the five-second gap to 2.5 with five laps to go. The team consistently nibbled at the Teter lead, leaving just one second between with two laps left. 

Kappa Alpha Theta overcame the gap in the final seconds and edged out Teter by 1.1 seconds, with a time of 10:16.95. The win allowed Kappa Alpha Theta to improve its Spring Series lead by three — 42 points compared to Teter’s 48. 

The win not only defined the team as Spring Series champions and recipient of the white jersey, but also toppers of the record books — a total eclipse of the standing record by nearly 20 seconds. 

“Today was a total testament,” La Valle said after finals. “It was 100% a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without the whole team behind us.”  

La Valle also notably won all three Spring Series events: ITTs, Miss N Outs and Team Pursuit — a feat rarely achieved, last done by Caitlin Van Kooten (Teter) in 2011. 

All teams’ final chance to test their legs will be the practice race, scheduled for Wednesday.  

Teter will wear green, and Kappa Alpha Theta will wear white for that one day in April: the 19th. 

***

A last-second buzzer-beater occurred in the men’s team pursuit. 

Black Key Bulls set a benchmark time of 9:33.40 early Sunday afternoon, with Sigma Alpha Epsilon following close behind in 9:35.54. The two were expected to face off in the final heat of the evening.

Sigma Phi Epsilon placed fourth on the day, giving the team enough room to take first place in the Spring Series standings and earn the white jersey for race day. 

In the third-to-last heat prior to finals, BKB’s second squad of four riders took to the track and defied expectations, overshadowing SAE’s earlier result by just .24 seconds.  

The finals featured the two BKB teams against each other, guaranteeing them the top two spots and a boost in confidence.

“It was absolutely insane,” BKB’s Zane Snider said after the final heat. “It was everything we ever could have wanted. We talk about how team pursuit is BKB’s strong suit, and how one day that we want to be in the finals with ‘BKB 1’ and ‘BKB 2,’ and we finally did it.” 

In the final race between the two BKB teams, rain poured and cinders sprayed behind each rider. 

‘BKB 2,’ comprised of McGuire Wolfe, Zack Villarreal, Brady Larkin and Snider completed its final heat on tired legs and high spirits shortly after their first team pursuit effort. The team clocked a time of 9:52.95. 

‘BKB 1,’ featuring riders Will Wagner, Wiley Close, Jack Handlos and Kan Kikuchi improved its earlier time to 9:31.33 despite the harsh weather conditions. 

The unlikely feat by BKB displays its depth ahead of the men’s Little 500. Only four of BKB’s ten-rider roster will be allowed to compete on race day, and according to Snider, those four spots are still up for grabs. 

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s efforts in team pursuit earned it second place on the day and second place in the Spring Series – edging out BKB by just six points. 

The top three in Spring Series — Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Black Key Bulls — all finished within 12 points of each other, ensuring an animated Little 500 men’s race.

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