Black Key Bulls Runs Away With Men’s Little 500 Title

For about 170 laps or so of the 67th Men’s Little 500 nobody seamed overly eager to make a winning move.

The pace was slowed by multiple cautions. The pack was about 14 teams deep. Everyone seemed content at just riding things out to set the table for what could have been one of the largest sprints the race has seen.

Then Black Key Bulls said enough. Someone had to make a move, so it might as well have been “The People’s Champs.”

“Why would you not try?” said Charlie Hammon post race

BKB broke away from the field with about 25 laps to go and built a straightaway’s worth of lead it never gave up in similar fashion to Kappa Alpha Theta the day before. The common thread between the women’s and men’s champion? Coach Ryan Knapp, who is believed to be the first coach to ever win both races in the same year.

“We were just watching each other waiting for someone to make a move,” BKB rider Kevin Mangel said. “When it happened, it happened.”

Black Key Bulls, from eighth starting spot, won in just less than two hours and 14 minutes time ahead of Gray Goat and Cutters. The two teams on the lower steps of the podium attempted to bridge the gap together late but ultimately didn’t have enough legs to catch up.

“Nobody was pulling through,” Gray Goat rider Thomas Torbik said. “Nobody really wanted to do a lot of the work, and I think that was because there wasn’t really anybody super favored to win the race. I think everyone saved, and nobody took full advantage until the end.”

 

Gray Goat was one of the pleasant surprises of the race, having moved from 15th starting spot to second. The veteran team featured 11 races of experience.

“I’m just so proud of this team,” Torbik said. “We knew that (BKB) was going to have a decent shot either way if they went for a sprint or pulled out like they did. We just couldn’t hold their wheel for very long.”

BKB’s move was planned well before the start of the race. Hammon said there was a threshold number that they were eying to pounce at and ultimately liked what they saw from the other teams when they made their move.

What helped was that the pack was as bunched together as it was. Loose cinders in Turns 3 and 4 sparked a handful of crashes and stymied any chance of a few teams working together to break into a smaller pack.

That was fine by BKB. Sprint or no sprint, the trophy is still the same.

“There’s no words to describe what it feels like to get that win for them, that win for us,” Hammon said. “It’s a special group.”

The championship is Black Key Bulls’ second in four years. They previously won after surviving a crash of lead riders coming to the white flag in 2014.

There was less drama this go around.

Same result, though.

“It’s not just us on the bike, it’s everyone on the team,” Mangel said. “Everyone from all the nine riders to the parents, all the friends, all the family. It’s more than just us four that made this championship.”

Unofficial Results:

1. Black Key Bulls

2. Gray Goat

3. Cutters

4. Beta Theta Pi

5. Sigma Alpha Epsilon

6. Bears

7. Sigma Chi

8. Sigma Phi Epsilon

9. Phi Gamma Delta

10. 3PH

11. Forest Cycling

12. Delta Chi

13. Lambda Chi Alpha

14. CSF Cycling

15. Pi Kappa Alpha

16. Kappa Sigma

17. JETBLACH

18. Acacia

19. Pi Lambda Phi

20. Phi Sigma Kappa

21. Delta Sigma Pi

22. Phi Delta Theta

23. Alpha Sigma Phi

24. Sigma Nu

25. Alpha Epsilon Pi

26. Theta Chi

27. Black Ice Cycling

28. Beta Sigma Psi

29. Tau Kappa Epsilon

30. Evans Scholars

31. Young Life Cycling

32. Sigma Pi

33. Sigma Alpha Mu

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Theta Wins Seventh Little 500 Title

Grace Bennett could hear herself making history.

As she made her way through Turn 3 on the 100th lap at Bill Armstrong Stadium with a safe lead that wasn’t going away, public address announcer Chuck Crabb’s voice carried over the noise of the crowd.

“Kappa Alpha Theta,” Crabb said, “Seventh Little 500 championship.”

“That was the last push that I needed there was to hear that,” Bennett said. “It’s kind of unreal. I don’t really know what to say. I can’t really believe it. I can’t believe it.”

Bennett and her Theta teammates broke away from the pack with about 30 laps to go and held off a late effort from Alpha Omicron Pi to win their third Little 500 in the last four years. Delta Gamma finished in third.

“It was a great race,” said Ali Oppel of runner-up finisher Alpha Omicron Pi. “Theta made a move that worked.”

Theta made its winning move with about 30 laps to go when coach Ryan Knapp opted to tell his riders to push the tempo and escape a lead pack of riders that was about 10 teams deep. The theory was that Theta could avoid having to win in a sprint if it could build an insurmountable gap that would die as the race went on.

It wasn’t a planned move, senior Evelyn Malcomb admitted.

In fact, she hated it.

“I already apologized to (Knapp) for questioning it because I was worried it wouldn’t stick,” Malcomb said.

The strategy was rewarded with a comfortable race win and ensuing celebration on the cinder track with Theta fans flooding over the fences to celebrate.

“We knew we had the depth to do something like that,” Bennett said. “We didn’t know exactly when we were going to do it or if the opportunity was even going to present itself, but we saw an opportunity and we went for it and we were just able to hold it all the way.”

Alpha Omicron Pi made Theta sweat it out late, bridging the gap from nearly 18 seconds with about 20 laps to go to a bike length with three left on the board. Ultimately, the second-place finishers used up too much energy trying to get back into the race to make a late enough charge.

Even so, the finish was the best in Alpha Omicron Pi’s program history. Theta may have added to its dominant legacy, but AOPi only continued to add layers to what’s been one of the fastest growing Little 500 teams in either the men’s or women’s fields.

“That’s what I’m most proud of is that we’ve got 10 girls on this team that work so hard,” Oppel said. “We’ve built this so far along since I’ve been here.”

Theta, AOPI, Dee Gee and a handful of other top competitors nearly found themselves out of the running after a crash on lap 35 when the lead pack was making its way around a lapped bike.

Nearly 10 teams wound up on the ground just beyond the start finish line, and chaos ensued. Luckily, for the frontrunners, the damage was limited. Riders quickly got back on their bikes, took off and restored a relatively stable pack just about a dozen laps later.

For the champion Thetas, it was Sydney Keaton who fell, got up, rode a few more laps and then handed the bike off to Malcomb from there. She held her composure the whole way.

“She got up like nobody’s business and took off,” Malcomb said of Keaton.

In a race where so many things can go wrong, Theta handled adversity when it came and pushed the right buttons at the right time. It’s sorta what Theta does.

Seven championships don’t just come by accident.

“It worked,” Malcomb said. “Thank God it did.”

Unofficial results:

  1. Kappa Alpha Theta
  2. Alpha Omicron Pi
  3. Delta Gamma
  4.  Alpha Chi Omega
  5.  Ski
  6.  Melanzana
  7.  Kappa Delta
  8.  Teter
  9.  Phi Mu
  10.  Alpha Gamma Delta
  11. Alpha Xi Delta
  12.  Independent Council
  13. Alpha Sigma Alpha
  14. Theta Phi Alpha
  15. Cru
  16.  Sigma Kappa
  17.  RideOn
  18.  Alpha Delta Pi
  19. Delta Sigma Pi
  20.  Phi Gamma Nu
  21. Delta Zeta
  22.  CSF
  23.  Sweet Potato Club
  24. Kappa Kappa Gamma
  25.  Delta Phi Epsilon
  26. IU Nursing
  27. Camp Kesem
  28. Gamma Phi Beta
  29.  Wing It
  30. Sigma Delta Tau
  31. Alpha Phi
  32.  Alpha Epsilon Phi

 

 

3PH Turning Heads After Fifth-Place Finish

BLOOMINGTON – 3PH Cycling came into this year’s Little 500 wanting to prove they can compete with the field’s best.

Saturday, they did just that.

The second-year team finished in fifth to build on their eighth place finish from a year ago. With 10 laps to go, they were hanging around with eventual winner Delta Tau Delta, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Black Key Bulls and Cutters before falling off pace in the closing laps to finish just over 24.108 seconds back.

“We started this team with the mentality that this is where we want to be,” sophomore Matthew Thompson said. “We started this team to be competitive, not just to be around. I think we’re only going to move up.”

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SAE battles back from wrecks to finish second

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BLOOMINGTON – All it really takes to ruin a team’s Little 500 is one crash.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon had two, one on lap 28 and then another on lap 102. Both incidents left lead rider Joe Krahulik bloodied and seeking medical attention while his teammates scrambled to make up for lost ground.

The crashes were the type of nightmare situations that take teams completely out of Little 500s, let alone title contention. But even after being knocked down twice, SAE rebounded to finish second behind Delta Tau Delta in one of the more adversity-filled races a team could have.

“It’s hard to be disappointed with everyone’s effort,” said senior rider Andy Krahulik. “To come back from all that, that’s something I’m going to remember forever.”

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Delta Gamma Proud, No Regrets Finishing 2nd

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BLOOMINGTON – There were no regrets, no second thoughts.

Kristen Bignal was at peace with herself.

Bignal, a junior rider for Delta Gamma, came within 0.051 seconds of Little 500 glory only to see Phoenix’s Tabitha Sherwood edge her at the line to win the 29th women’s Little 500 by less than a tire length. She took her time debriefing the race’s events with her teammates, gathering her thoughts before concluding there was nothing she could have done differently.

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BKB, Teter Maintain Team Pursuit Dominance

BLOOMINGTON – By now, this is something Little 500 fans should be used to reading: The Black Key Bulls and Teter are the Team Pursuit Champions.

This has become a norm of sorts. Both teams rich with rider depth have dominated Team Pursuit in recent seasons.

For BKB, this year’s win marked the third title in a row. “The Peoples’ Champs” ran the final alone after Sigma Alpha Epsilon scratched and did not race for the title in 9:26.77. They also had the fastest time of the day at 9:23.19 in their first run.

Teter’s win is the program’s sixth Team Pursuit win in the last seven years and the seventh in the last nine. Teter, who ran the fastest time with an 8:30.62 in the championship race, edged out Kappa Alpha Theta for the win.

 

 

 

Column: Sherwood’s dominance continues, follows familiar path

BLOOMINGTON – The scary thing isn’t what Tabitha Sherwood is doing.

It’s how she’s doing it.

The Phoenix Cycling rider made it a perfect 2-for-2 in the individual Spring Series events by winning the women’s Miss-N-Out title to go along with her Individual Time Trial win she picked up a few days earlier.

Let’s be clear about something up front: Sherwood is the most dominant rider in the women’s field right now.

Miss-N-Outs couldn’t have gone more smoothly for the fourth-year rider. She won the top seed at ITTs to earn the inside position on track and never gave it up in her first heat, semifinal or finals race. If there was a move she needed to make, she made it. No questions. No hesitations. It was textbook.

Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal—who really deserves credit in her own right for taking second in both ITTs and Miss-N-Outs—gave Sherwood a scare as best she could on the last Miss-N-Out lap. Bignal made a push down the back stretch against the gusting wind and briefly grabbed the lead heading into Turn 3 on the outside before Sherwood pulled alongside through the middle of Turns 3 and 4 only to power passed down the front stretch.

Had it not been for Sherwood, Bignal would likely be the subject of this story. That’s the raw end of racing that, coincidentally, Sherwood can relate to.

Last year, it was Sherwood finishing second in both ITTs and then Miss-N-Outs behind Kappa Alpha Theta’s Liz Lieberman, who dominated the individual portion of Spring Series. On race day, Lieberman led Theta to its second consecutive Little 500 win.

The team that finished second that day? None other than Sherwood’s Phoenix Cycling. That’s a developing trend worth keeping an eye on.

Of course, the Sherwood-Phoenix/Lieberman-Theta comparison isn’t exactly perfect. Their respective teams’ strengths aren’t equal, which is critical.

Lieberman had a pair of teammates finish in the top-eight in ITTs and another finish 23rd.

Sherwood has a pair of teammates in the top-24 and another in 33rd.

On paper, Lieberman had more help, but considering the weather from ITTs, that’s not exactly a firm answer. It’s not a stretch to try and connect the dots and say they’re in almost identical spots.

Sherwood’s been the storyline of the women’s field throughout Spring Series thus far and will likely continue to be throughout the rest of April.

She’s made it clear she’s one of the best riders, if not the best rider in the field already, and said she’s in the best physical shape of her life. Combine that with the urgency that comes with a senior rider being in her last race and there’s a potent combination brewing.

But there’s one thing Sherwood’s still missing. If you’d ask her, she’d trade all the individual wins for it, too.

A Little 500 trophy.

At the rate she’s going, she just may get it.

Sherwood’s work rewarded with ITT title

BLOOMINGTON — Nothing about Tabitha Sherwood’s Individual Time Trial run went according to plan, except the most important part—she won.

Sherwood overcame less-than-ideal track conditions on a borrowed men’s bike to win the women’s ITT in her fourth and final try. After finishing second two years in a row, Phoenix Cycling’s lead rider left no doubt she’s among the class of the field by posting a 2:35.48, exactly 1.5 seconds ahead of Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal in second place.

“Four years hard work finally worth it,” Sherwood said.

Sherwood’s time was the lowest since Kristi Hewitt ran a 2:34.0 for Wing It in 2009.

The bike she was supposed to ride was in bad shape after a teammate rode it through the heavy rain that fell sporadically on the track throughout the night. In need of a bike, Sherwood asked Cutters’ Erik “Trevor” Schwedland , who also happens to be her roommate, if she could borrow the one he used earlier in the night.

“I’m on the taller side anyway and can ride a men’s frame,” Sherwood said. “So I was like, ‘Hey Trev, can I use your bike?’ He switched out the bars for me and tried to get the saddle height right, but it wasn’t quite correct and that slowed me down a little bit.”

Despite the sudden change in events, Sherwood flirted with breaking the women’s ITT record. Her only regret was that she said she could have been faster.

“With all the conditions not going the way they should, I’m satisfied,” she said.

Sherwood’s road to the top of the ITT charts has been filled with adversity. Along the way, she’s plowed through anything that could have stopped her without slowing down.

Even after fracturing her hip and suffered a mild concussion last March, Sherwood didn’t miss any time in 2015’s Little 500 Spring Series, finishing second in both the ITTs and Miss-N-Outs even with the lingering injury. Then she paced Phoenix to a second place finish on race day in the team’s first ever Little 500.

Sherwood has become perhaps the most dominant rider in either field, men’s or women’s and is riding as well this year as she ever has in her cycling career. That’s only fed into her confidence a little over a year removed from her injury.

“I wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent (last year),” Sherwood said. “I’m in about the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. This is ridiculous.”

Sherwood made a nearly seamless transition from riding with Collins in 2013-14 to forming Phoenix in October 2014. Although the ITT crown is rewarding considering all she’s had to go through to win it, Sherwood couldn’t help but downplay it knowing the race is a little more than two weeks away.

“It’s ITTs. They don’t matter,” Sherwood said. “What really matters is April 15.”

Results: Sherwood, Krahulik win ITTs

Phoenix Cycling’s Tabitha Sherwood and Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Joe Krahulik were the class of the women’s and men’s fields, respectively, claiming Individual Time Trial titles Wednesday night.

Sherwood timed in at 2:35.48, the lowest time since Kristi Hewitt ran a record 2:34.0 in 2009 for Wing It. That time was good enough to edge Kristen Bignal of Delta Gamma (2.36.98) and Kappa Alpha Theta’s Grace Bennett (2:37.98).

Krahulik finished his ITT run in 2:17.24, which is the second-best time in Little 500 ITT history, only trailing Hans Arnesen’s 2:15.78 from his ride with Alpha Tau Omega in 2005. Delta Tau Delta’s Luke Tormoehlen (2:19.60) was second and Cutters’ Nick Thiery (2:20.68) was third.

Sherwood’s ITT win was further proof that she hasn’t lost her footing among the class of the field. After finishing second back-to-back times, including with a fractured hip last season, she was able to break through for her first individual win in her fourth and final attempt.

Krahulik, only a sophomore, turned some heads with his time. The young rider has quickly made a name for himself despite having only one race under his belt.

Though Sherwood and Krahulik proved to be the class of the field, the weather was a dominant story throughout the day. Early on, strong winds and overcast skies made for difficult but manageable conditions until the skies opened up and rain started to fall around the same time to highest seeded riders were set to take the track.

At one point, the ITTs were delayed for about 45 minutes due to lightning strikes in the area. By the time the lightning stopped, the rain started again making for ever-changing track conditions that brought a mixed bag of results.

Some riders who stopped in the press box said the track was incredibly slow in the latter stages of the day. Others who went at nearly identical said it was as good as the track could get. The only certainty was that there was a variance in the way riders kept up with the conditions.

From a team perspective, Kappa Alpha Theta was thee most impressive team of the women’s field placing five riders in the top-14 spots. Bennett led the charge from third but was joined by Abby Rogers (6), Evelyn Malcolm (7), Rachel Brown (12) and Madeline Lambert (14).

Alpha Omicron Pi wasn’t too far behind with four riders in the top-15. Leigh Dukeman led the way from fourth spot, followed by Audrey Healey (9), Ali Oppel (10) and Michaela Ranft (15).

Not surprisingly, Black Key Bulls once again flexed its depth with seven riders in the top-23 spots. Charlie Hammon led the way for “The Peoples’ Champs” in fifth, followed by Nicholas Hartman (7), Spencer Brauchla (8), Xavier Martinez (13), Kevin Mangel (15), Noah Voyles (19) and Michael Chettleburgh (23).

Sigma Alpha Epsilon had Mitchell Sassemar and Andrew Krahulik join Joe Krahulik in 17th and 18th, respectively. Cutters put a pair of riders in the top-10 with Thiery in third and Erik “Trevor” Schwedland in 10th.

By the end of the night, separating teams was rather difficult. Considering the way the weather may or may have not changed the ITT outcomes and the relative parity across the top-25, no teams in particular established themselves as obvious front runners. For that, we may have to wait until at least Miss-N-Outs is over.

Until then, ITTs belonged to Sherwood and Krahulik. Because fast is fast.

 

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Women’s Top 25

  1. Tabitha Sherwood, Phoenix, 2:35.48
  2. Kristen Bignal, Delta Gamma, 2:36.98
  3. Grace Bennett, Kappa Alpha Theta, 2:37.98
  4. Leigh Dukeman, Alpha Omicron Pi, 2:38.89
  5. Megan Hulbregtse, Ski, 2:39.20
  6. Abby Rogers, Kappa Alpha Theta, 2:39.62
  7. Evelyn Malcolm, Kappa Alpha Theta, 2:39.84
  8. Julia Thomas, Teter, 2:40.30
  9. Audrey Healey, Alpha Omicron Pi, 2:41.01
  10. Ali Oppel, Alpha Omicron Pi, 2:41.02
  11. Ashley Williams, Ski, 2:41.04
  12. Rachel Brown, Kappa Alpha Theta, 2:41.33
  13. Eliza Heath, Teter, 2:41.36
  14. Madeline Lambert, Kappa Alpha Theta, 2:41.45
  15. Michaela Ranft, Alpha Omicron Pi, 2:41.89
  16. Fallon Lilly, Melanzana Cycling, 2:42.33
  17. Kelsey Kluesner, Teter, 2:42.52
  18. Alexandra Kolar, Alpha Chi Omega, 2:42.75
  19. Sarah Rivich, Delta Gamma, 2:43.23
  20. Brooke Hannon, CSF, 2:44.83
  21. Jess McKune, Kappa Delta, 2:44.94
  22. Lauren Brand, Phoenix, 2:45.06
  23. Libby Momper, Kappa Delta, 2:45.15
  24. Melissa Ragatz, Phoneix, 2:46.44
  25. Nicole COughlan, Phi Mu, 2:47.16

 

Men’s Top 25

  1. Joe Krahulik, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 2:17.24
  2. Luke Tormoehlen, Delta Tau Delta, 2:19.60
  3. Nick Thiery, Cutters, 2:20.68
  4. Kyle Knight, Beta Theta Pi, 2:20.71
  5. Charlie Hammon, Black Key Bulls, 2:21.38
  6. Ryan Romenesko, Phi Delta Theta, 2:21.93
  7. Nicholas Hartman, Black Key Bulls, 2:20.50
  8. Spencer Brauchla, Black Key Bulls, 2:22.80
  9. Joseph Hunt, Forest Cycling, 2:23.54
  10. Erik “Trevor” Schwedland, Cutters, 2:24.27
  11. Evan Zehr, Wright Cycling, 2:24.70
  12. Rob Lee, Phi Delta Theta, 2:24.87
  13. Xavier Martinez, Black Key Bulls, 2:25.19
  14. Chase Van Halen, Pi Kappa Alpha, 2:25.27
  15. Kevin Mangel, Black Key Bulls, 2:25.28
  16. James Welch, Gray Goat, 2:25.65
  17. Mitchell Sassemar, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 2:26.31
  18. Andrew Krahulik, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, 2:26.56
  19. Noah Voyles, Black Key Bulls, 2:26.63
  20. Jeff Gough, Lambda Chi Alpha, 2:26.96
  21. Sam Anderson, Sigma Phi Epsilon, 2:27.21
  22. Jeremy Crawford, Sigma Nu, 2:27.39
  23. Abel Berrera Duran, Delta Chi, 2:28.02
  24. Michael Chettleburgh, Black Key Bulls, 2:28.02
  25. Daniel Cox, Sigma Phi Epsilon, 2:28.33

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