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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports little 500

Kappa Alpha Theta sweeps competition, wins 36th women’s Little 500

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Thirty-three teams suited up in their respective uniforms for the 36th women’s Little 500. Kappa Alpha Theta sported white jerseys on a cool Friday afternoon hoping to bring home the Borg-Warner Trophy for its house, looking to further cement its name into the race’s history. 

While it was close in the first half of the 100-lap race, Theta pushed in the second half and didn’t look back. It attained a 26-second lead at one point, winning its ninth Little 500. 

What did Theta freshman rider Greta Heyl think was the key to her squad’s domination? 

Culture. 

“The main goal we had for the race was just to have fun,” Heyl said postrace. “I think we did that.” 

In the opening handful of laps, Theta rarely led but kept up with the pack. On lap 18, Heyl was involved in a crash in turn one that gave the team ground to make up. 

Theta rejoined the pack in a few laps, and on lap 43, snagged the lead for a moment. 

With Teter and Theta battling it out for the lead at the halfway mark, Theta senior rider Audrey La Valle veered to her right across sophomore Teter rider Seneca Simon. Simon fell to the cinder track face first as her squad fell half a lap behind Theta.  

After the wreck, Delta Gamma challenged Theta on lap 58, battling for the lead for about four laps until lap 62. Theta took advantage of Delta Gamma's slowing, jumping to an 11-second lead on lap 66. 

After Theta’s dramatic breakaway, the finish line was in sight. It knew to just keep pushing as anything could happen in such an unpredictable race. 

"Yes, we have this lead, and it’s great,” Cappella said. “You see it everywhere though, there’s crashes, it’s a dusty track. I said anything can happen, just put your head down and ride a safe race.” 

Cappella hopped on the bike on lap 98, signifying Theta’s final exchange. During the final two laps, the rest of the riders and coaches all gathered in for one big group hug in its pit, with tears dripping down Heyl’s face, knowing all her hard work was about to pay off. 

Cappella finished out the final two laps of the race en route to a dominating victory. After she rode the track one more time on her cooldown lap, she pulled up to her team's pit to join in on another group hug, with tears running down many faces. 

“Everybody dreams about the moment where they can throw their arms up and say "I did this,"” a teary-eyed Cappella said. “It wouldn’t have been without the work of the three other people that rode.” 

Theta’s supporters quickly made their way from the stands behind its pit and onto the track right in front of the podium, cheering as their riders and coaches received their hardware.  

Afterward, all four riders completed the traditional victory lap with Queen’s “We Are the Champions” playing in the background. 

Theta’s victory marked the end of what some have dubbed “the La Valle curse.” La Valle stamped her family’s name into the history books as a winner in her last attempt at the race. 

“It makes a good story right?” La Valle said. “It’s not about the result, but it’s definitely a good way to end it.” 

La Valle wasn’t the only one trying to end the curse, as Heyl wanted to end the curse for her. 

“My goal for her this race was to get her a win,” Heyl said. “She’s been such an amazing captain to all of us, and I wanted to make sure she had a win under her belt.” 

The last time Theta stood at the top of the podium was in 2018. Despite the four Theta riders leaving their legacy on the track Saturday, Capella credited their sisters for supporting them. 

“We wouldn’t be anywhere without the people in our house,” Cappella said. "I think there were two generations of Theta’s that never experienced a Little 500 win, so to stop that drought, this is a legacy, and it’s because of our alumni.” 

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