Each spring, there are two different individual events, ITTs and MNO. ITTs is about raw speed around the track, while MNO combines a riders speed with their ability to ride in traffic, battle for track position and make timely runs.
Both are obviously important, so we decided to combine the two events together to create a master power ranking of the top men’s riders.
To reach this ranking, we took the number of points of a rider’s ITT finish (i.e. if you finished 9th in ITTs, you get 9 points. Finish 21st, you get 21 points) and combined it with a similar point measure in MNO (final heat received points 1-6 based on final finish, semifinalists received points 7-11 based on their finish, with both sides of the bracket receiving equal points for that finish in the semis). Obviously then, it becomes like a golf score. Lowest score wins.
It’s not perfect, but we believe it shows who some of the very best riders in the field are. Riders had to finish strong in both of the individual events to land on this ranking.
Here’s the list:
1 Chris Craig, Beta Theta Pi (3 points)
Craig won MNO for the second straight year and came in second at ITTs giving him the lowest total score. He leads arguably the fastest team on paper coming into the race in Beta. Craig crashed on lap 199 last year, and there’s no doubt he’s out to prove he has what it takes in his senior year.
2 Nick Thiery, Cutters (4 points)
I’m not really sure how its possible, but it seems like Thiery continues to fly under the radar a bit. He follows a great line of Cutters sprinters, including most recently Eric Young and Kevin Depasse. He’s certainly not to that level yet, riding in just his second Little 500 race this year, but he has proven he’s one of the fastest out there right now. He won ITTs and came in third in MNO. His MNO finish was a big improvement from 2014, in which he didn’t make the finals.
3 Rob Lee, Phi Delta Theta (6 points)
Lee burst onto the scene in 2013 when he finished fourth in ITTs, coming virtually out of nowhere as a rookie. He led that team to a third place finish, then followed up even stronger in 2014, finishing second in ITTs and recovering from being wiped out in the crash on lap 199 in the race to finish second. Of the top men’s riders, Lee is the most experienced, and that could pay dividends on race day. He finished fourth in ITTs and second in MNO this year.
4 Tyler Hart, Black Key Bulls (11 points)
If there’s one person who should be a lock to be a rookie of the year this year, it’s Hart. The senior is riding in his first Little 500 race, but it’s his fourth year on BKB. He’s gotten better and better each year, and BKB’s team is so deep that despite finishing 11th in ITTs last year, Hart wasn’t on the race team. This year, Hart finished 7th in ITTs and was fourth in MNO. His MNO performance might be the most impressive, showing he knows how to handle himself in traffic.
5 Kyle Knight, Beta Theta Pi (12 points)
Knight gives Beta arguably the greatest 1-2 punch in the race alongside Craig. He had a very strong showing in ITTs this year, finishing third. He was top 10 in ITTs last year, too. His score was brought down slightly by a sixth place finish in the MNO semis (accounting for 9 points in our rankings here) that kept him out of the finals. He had been a finalist in MNO in 2014, his rookie campaign. Craig gets all of the attention for Beta, but Knight is a very strong individual rider in his own right.
6 Luke Tormoehlen, Delta Tau Delta (13 points)
7 Andrew Krahulik, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (17 points)
8 (tie) Spencer Brauchla, Black Key Bulls (18 points)
8 (tie) Nick Torrance, Sigma Phi Epsilon (18 points)
10 Anthony Vicino, Delta Tau Delta (20 points)
11 Lucas Kalbfell, Black Key Bulls (21 points)
12 (tie) Ryan Romenesko, Phi Delta Theta (23 points)
12 (tie) Joe Laughlin, Beta Theta Pi (23 points)
14 Brian Depasse, Cutters (24 points)
15 Nick Hartman, Black Key Bulls (26 points)
Other notables: Thomas Svenstrup, Sigma Nu; Luke Momper, Delta Tau Delta; Charlie Hicks, Sigma Phi Epsilon; Sam Anderson, Sigma Phi Epsilon; Jeremy Crawford, Sigma Nu