BLOOMINGTON — After finishing 1-2 in the Miss ‘N Out final Saturday, brothers Joe and Andy Krahulik had one more lap to take.
This lap they coasted. This lap they smiled. This lap they rode arm in arm.
The brothers have been training for moments like this since February 2015, when older brother Andy convinced then-freshman Joe to stop riding for an independent team and join him at Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“It definitely took some convincing,” Andy said, “but it’s hard to pass up doing something like this with your brother.”
“I don’t regret my decision at all,” Joe said, “especially on a day like today.”
“Especially on a day like today!” Andy added with a big smile.
For three years, Andy had failed to advance out of the semifinals. Last year, Joe crashed in the first round.
To make it to the final three of MNO, and then have Joe finish hundredths of a second before Andy in a heads up sprint meant a lot to both of them.
“To get all the way there and to be in that final sprint,” Andy said, “after I’ve had three years of never making it out of the semis, to be in that spot, that was just guttural. That was a primitive yell.”
When the brothers first looked at the bracket, they were perhaps a little nervous. If the two advanced to the second round, they would not only be in the same heat, but they would potentially be put in a spot where they’d have to beat out one of their SAE teammates. Mitchell Sasseman, two Beta Theta Pi riders and one of the Cutters.
Only two from that group would advance to the semifinals. The Krahulik brothers knew they were going to have to work together to make it work.
“I don’t want to say it was like IU facing Kentucky in the Round of 32,” Andy said of the second round heat, “but when I looked at the bracket and saw that we were going to have three of our guys in the second heat when only two could go through, it kind of felt like that. It felt like that was the big boy heat, especially with Cutters in the running for it, as well as two Betas. It felt like that was going to be the hard part.”
The Krahuliks lost their teammate after the first lap. Then the plan was to try to work with the Betas to box in the Cutters rider.
That didn’t work. The Betas were the next two eliminated. The Krahuliks had to adjust on the fly.
But this is something the two are used to doing. They spend a lot of time at the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis together, and they like to work together in practice by finding packs of riders and seeing how they could break them up.
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And the two had the critical advantage that Joe was the No. 1 overall seed in MNO due to his win at Individual Time Trials on Wednesday. That meant Joe always started out with the inside line, a spot he said was never really challenged because of the heavy wind gusts on the day.
“It was pretty simple for me,” Joe said of the windy conditions. “I just pulled every lap and no one wanted to come around.”
So with Joe in front, Andy could communicate in the back. The two were able to work together to eliminate Cutters rider Logan Kuhn in the second round.
“He (Joe) was on the inside line,” Andy said, “so I could just go behind him and he would give me the inside line coming out of Turn 4 if he just went wide.”
The two would also finish 1-2 in the semifinal, which saw three riders advance. The two were once again able to scheme and work together to achieve the best position.
When they got to the final 3 against Luke Tormoehlen of Delta Tau Delta, the two had plans for how to handle any situation.
“If he (Joe) was on the front and Tormoehlen, in this case, decided to take his wheel, we would just box him in,” Andy said. “If he (Joe) was on the front and I was second wheel, I was going to tell him to go and I would sit up. That’s what we tried. It happened in Turn 3. Tormoehlen caught on to it pretty quick. He went, I followed his wheel and then just got on the outside. As we were rounding Turn 2, Joe couldn’t see because he was in front, I said, ‘Hold the inside, we have him boxed.’ That was the plan and it worked perfectly.”
Long after the final was over, the two brothers stood talking to friends and family.
Looking back, it’s impossible for either one to have imagined what it would have been like to have done this day as part of two different teams.
“One of the best decisions I could’ve made ever,” Joe said of joining Andy at SAE.
“That was a fun day,” Andy said.