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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports little 500

Delta Gamma’s team of seniors secure a podium finish at the 2024 women’s Little 500

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Delta Gamma, in fluorescent pink jerseys, followed Kappa Alpha Theta in the latter half of the 36th women’s Little 500 on Friday.  

Delta Gamma briefly caught Theta following Teter’s crash on lap 53. At first, DG refused to pull and allow the Theta rider to draft. The two riders then rode side by side and exchanged words, hoping to secure the victory.  

After multiple attacks and accelerations prior to exchanges by the winning Kappa Alpha Theta, the Delta Gamma rider faded back to chasing Teter and Melanzana. Her head drooped and elbows locked — a sure sign of fatigue. Kappa Alpha Theta secured its win 34 seconds in front of the chase group. 

After exchanging, the fresh Delta Gamma rider waited patiently until the inevitable three-rider sprint for second, third and fourth place. 

Delta Gamma ultimately finished second in the bunch sprint, placing third overall — the all-senior rosters’ top performance, and the program’s best finish since its victory in 2021. 

Student coach and Delta Tau Delta rider Jack Lloyd aided DG in its successful race day result. He’s known the team for most of his three years at IU and was happy to see his friends place third. 

“The roster has mostly been the same over the last few years,” Lloyd said. “They’ve been just off the podium with a team that could podium.” 

Delta Gamma enlisted Lloyd as its student coach. The strong connection between Delta Tau Delta and Delta Gamma encouraged riders to reach out for help. 

Additionally, JETBLACH — Delta Tau Delta’s off-campus title — alumni Trent Hohenstreiter, was the race day mechanic for Delta Gamma. He aided in changing seat post height before rider exchanges and working on the bikes. 

“Our synergy is one of the things [Delta Gamma] sought,” Lloyd said. 

Lloyd and Delta Gamma worked together in the pits to form what they hoped would be a winning plan. 

“We knew we had four strong riders,” Lloyd said. “They didn’t have that girl who would 100% win a sprint, but they were one of the strongest teams.” 

The DG roster, made up of seniors Shannon Kerr, Cayla Zimmerman, Rebecca Ronning and Kate Burnett, used their strengths to undermine others’ initial strategies — a proactive approach to the race. 

“We were working to make teams do what they didn’t want to do,” Lloyd said. 

After successfully slimming down the field and joining Teter and Melanzana’s chase of Theta, Lloyd, and DG put the premeditated plan into action. 

“We kept our top Individual Time Trialist fresh,” Lloyd said. 

Co-captain Burnett’s 11th-place finish in ITTs was Delta Gamma’s top performance. Additionally, she was on the Team Pursuit squad which placed third. Her strong efforts aided Delta Gamma in its fourth-place series result.  

Burnett resided in the DG pit on her stationary trainer for most of the race, allowing her to conserve energy when the team needed her most.  

After Kappa Alpha Theta’s lead grew to a half lap over the chasing Delta Gamma and became untouchable, Burnett’s experience and energized legs were utilized on the bike. 

She played her role, clutching second in the three-team field sprint, placing her team third overall in the 36th women’s Little 500. 

Burnett returned to the pits and all four riders joined in a bittersweet embrace with each other. The team finally placed on the podium after riding, training and racing together for the last three years. 

Kerr held up the third-place trophy atop the podium with her teammates and coaches as members and supporters of Delta Gamma cheered for their team. 

“The goal is a win,” Lloyd said. “They got to stand in front of their fans and hold a trophy. That’s a win.”

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