Column: Sportsmanship shines after Sherwood’s win

It took several minutes after the race before Phoenix’s Tabitha Sherwood was able to talk to anyone after winning the Little 500 on Friday.

She had given it her everything. And while every rider on the track gave it their everything, too, Sherwood’s everything was the only effort that was enough to come away with victory.

While it ends in joy for Sherwood and her Phoenix teammates, it means pain for those who gave it their all and it just wasn’t quite enough to beat Phoenix.

So when Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal came over to congratulate Sherwood, it felt like something special.

“So proud of you,” Bignal said to Sherwood as the two hugged.

“Proud of you!,” Sherwood answered.

Bignal, of course, was the rider whom Sherwood had passed at the very last second of the race. Sherwood had nosed her bike in front of Bignal’s about three feet before the start/finish line. The difference between the two was. 0.051 seconds. That’s less than a blink of the eye.

Bignal wasn’t the only rider who took a moment to approach Sherwood and talk about how happy she was to see Sherwood’s hard work pay off.

Kappa Alpha Theta’s Abby Rogers also took a moment to give Sherwood a hug.

Keep in mind, this was Rogers’ senior year, too. And a victory for Theta on Friday would’ve meant the first time a women’s team had ever won three races in a row.

“I love all of Theta,” Sherwood said when asked about the moment. “I love all those girls. I have a lot of respect for Theta. They put a lot of hard work into it. I have a lot of respect for DG, too. And pretty much everyone out here. It takes a lot of hard work to do this.”

It’s such a frenzy after the race, it’s impossible to see all of the people who come up to congratulate the winner. But I’m sure several other teams came up to congratulate Sherwood and the rest of the Phoenix team after an outstanding performance.

How often in sports do we get moments like that? When do people who train year round for something, sacrifice so much to try to achieve a goal, come up just short, and are able to step back and genuinely be happy for the people who made it to the top?

Perhaps even more rare, how often does the person at the top take time out to acknowledge how great an effort every one of her competitors gave?

It seemed like a great moment of humility on Sherwood’s part to take time to recognize that the day wasn’t just about her, or her Phoenix teammates. But that anyone who participated in Little 500, was willing to put it all on the line, put in hours on hours of training, and perform on one of the greatest intramural stages was deserving of enormous amounts of respect.

People sometimes ask why it’s so easy to love Little 500. Moments like that, when rivals can come together and tell one another that they’re proud of the other because each knows they left everything on the line, that’s just one small ingredient of why it’s easy to fall in love with these two days in April.



4 thoughts on “Column: Sportsmanship shines after Sherwood’s win

  1. Can’t believe how far into the hurt locker Sherwood and Bignal were willing to go to win that race. I have watched the end of the race several times. The last 12 laps were ridden in just under 7.47.
    Each team had their last rider on for DG 10 laps, Teter 9 laps, Phoenix 7 laps, Theta 5, and AOPi 3. The last four laps were in 2.30. It seemed like a very fast end. No relaxing or setting up for a final sprint, they were pretty much flat out the whole way. You could see the toll it had on them after the race. The two out front took quite some time to recover and were extremely fatigued. Bignal collapsed and was not able to get up off the track for a while and Sherwood was throwing up before going to the podium. I don’t recall ever seeing that fast a finish in recent races, or the riders having put so much into winning. The fact that Sherwood could get out of the seat and pump the last 10-15 yards just showed how badly she wanted it. What an epic race. A lot of credit to Teter for riding a great race, Theta and AOPi, for trying to push the pace and trying to loose Phoenix and DG. To DG for refusing to get dropped and Teter for working hard to close the gap, and Sherwood for always looking in control. When Bignal went hard off turn 2 Sherwood looked so relaxed in getting on her wheel while the others had no answer. Then the timing of the last push getting out of the saddle to win the race was impeccable. I can only imagine the thoughts and feelings of each rider as they approached and crossed the finish line. Would like to give a shout out to KG and AXO for pushing the pace earlier on, sorry to see them get tangled before the final push, not that I think the outcome would have changed. To Ski who lost a rider a few weeks before the race and also, I think, got into an accident. To XO who lost a rider on the way to the track just a few hours before the race (hope she is alright).

    Phoenix looses all their riders, DG looses two, but keeps Bignal. Theta looses Rogers, but keeps a very strong group, and I think AOPi only looses one. Not sure about Teeter. Can anyone confirm the riders that return for those teams next year?

    • ^ But also shout out to Kevin Garnett for reminding us all that anything is possible.

      Great sportsmanship/racing/insight !

  2. Piggy backing off the comments via Fast 500 :

    Great race by Tabitha and Phoenix coming back to win by a nose. Phoenix stayed patient and got Tabitha “some” rest before her final set. Some teams used their best rider to cover all the final attacks and also sprint. Kudos to them. Impressive victory.
    Great effort by KD but it looks like they left a rider out there 1 lap too long on 2 separate occasions which may have cost them catching the tail end of the pack before the field figured it out. They had a 48 and a 47 in there during the attack which hurt the momentum but I applaud the effort. AOPi rode a solid effort there too except they jumped way too early on the final sprint pretty much assuring she would get eaten up in the sprint. Theta rode strong and did what they could there to get off the front and win before the sprint. DG rode smart and quite similar to how Delta Tau Delta rode.
    I downloaded race monitor to check for the top riders in the race after seeing that Bignal’s fastest lap was a 33.1 on lap 27. The next fastest was Teter’s rookie at 33.5 on the same lap. The lap before this was a 37.5, and the 2 laps after by Teter after following out Phoenix and DG were about 37.5’s.
    This 4 lap time by Teter’s rookie was 2:25.99. This is the fastest 4 laps on record for the women averaging a split hair under 36.5 seconds per lap. She rode a smidgeon under 50 laps of the last 80-85 laps (60%). Teter appeared to ride only 3 riders with the 3rd rider going only 15-16 laps. Team Pursuit measures team depth, so I would have guessed they would have gone deeper into the well. That goes shows how hard the race must have been at times. With more experience they could be a big threat next year with their rookies all coming back.
    Both winners came from the black jerseys and the corner pits.

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