Returning experience in the men’s field

When looking back on last year’s Little 500 men’s race, the majority of the field was surprisingly young, outside of BKB’s veteran-led lineup. This year, all those young riders are back with experience.

It makes for a more of a veteran feel to this year’s race, with four teams returning four riders with race experience, and five additional teams returning three riders with race experience. Should all of those teams qualify (and our guess is they will), that means 27 percent of the starting grid on race day will be made up of teams with at least three riders with returning race experience.

Here’s a look at the men’s teams with the most returning riders and the most race experience.

Forest
With all four riders back from last year’s race team, Forest brings an impressive nine years of combined race experience into this year’s Little 500 season. Three of its riders all have at least two years of race experience entering the upcoming race. Seniors Robert Henderson and Austin Portolese both have three years of race experience, joining six other riders in this year’s field who can say the same thing. Kyle Swain has two years of Little 500 race experience, and Richard Dixon has one for this team made up entirely of seniors.

Alpha Epsilon Pi
With senior Brett Frommer’s three years of race experience leading the way, AEPi has four riders with race experience returning, combining for a total of seven years of race experience.

Beta Theta Pi
After reloading from its 2013 championship team with four riders with zero race experience last year, Beta is now one of the most experienced teams in this year’s field, returning all four of its riders from its team that finished seventh last year. Senior Chris Craig, who won ITTs last year, is back for his second year, as are teammates Kyle Knight, Joe Laughlin and AJ Sood. All four each rode their first Little 500 last year, giving the team four combined years of race experience.

Sigma Nu
Much like Beta, Sigma Nu returns all four riders from last year’s race, with last year being the first race for all four, giving the team a combined four years of race experience.

Delta Tau Delta
The Delts return three riders from last year’s team that finished third, led by Luke Momper, who is back for his fifth year at IU with three years of race experience entering this season. Momper rode on the Delts team that won the Little 500 in 2012, and also the 2013 team that finished second in a sprint-finish.

Cutters
The winningest team in Little 500 history also reloaded last season, but now returns lots of experience this year. Cutters returns three riders from last year’s team, with a combined three years of race experience. Sophomore Nick Thiery was sixth in last year’s ITTs.

Gray Goat
If it sticks together, this independent team could have the amount of experience of this year’s Forest team in a couple of years. Gray Goat had three freshmen on last year’s team, and all three are back for their second Little 500 season this year.

Pi Kappa Phi
Pi Kappa Phi returns three riders with race experience, combining for a total of four years of Little 500 race experience.

Northern Indiana Cycling
Last year’s all-rookie team is back as one of the team’s with the most experience. NIC returns three riders from last year’s team for a combined three years of race experience.

Other notables
Sigma Phi Epsilon returns two riders with race experience, led by Nick Torrance’s three years. Torrance finished 22nd at ITTs last year, and Anderson finished 24th.

Phi Delta Theta returns Rob Lee, who finished second behind Craig in ITTs last year, and Ryan Romenesko, who finished fifth in ITTs last year. The two combine for three years of race experience. Lee has finished on the podium in each of his two races.

Phi Gamma Delta, Delta Chi and Phi Kappa Psi each have two riders with race experience back, one of whom has three years of experience to give each team a combined four years of returning experience. FIJI’s three-year rider is Michael Khamis, Delta Chi’s is Brandon Leviton and Phi Kappa Psi’s is Ian Shoup.

Defending champion Black Key Bulls returns just Spencer Brauchla from the race last year, but there’s several top riders who were on the team last year who didn’t race because of the team’s depth. Brauchla was the team’s top finisher at ITTs last year, finishing fourth. Tyler Hart and Nick Hartman, who finished 11th and 12 respectively in ITTs last year, didn’t race and return to the team this year. Lucas Kalbfell, who finished 36th in ITTs last year, also returns to team this season. But Brauchla is the only member of the team with Little 500 race experience, with one race under his belt.

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