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Riding in the front: Annual favorites look to continue domination

POSTED AT 11:23 AM ON Apr. 18, 2012  (UPDATED AT 01:50 PM ON Apr. 18, 2012)

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As fun as it is to root for the underdog in sports, there wouldn’t be any if it wasn’t for the top dogs who set the bar high. Here’s a look at some of the men and women favorites to win this year’s Little 500 races.

The Cutters are the prime players of the top dogs. Although they’ve only been in existence since 1984, they have won a record 12 races. The next closest is eight by Delta Chi, the fraternity from which the Cutters originated. They have also won five consecutive Little 500 races dating back to 2007, another unprecedented mark. In 28 total races, the Cutters have placed in the top ten 26 times, with their worst performance resulting in a 12th-place finish. Their average placement per year is 3.54, a best among all current teams.

Senior rider Kevin Depasse said he is thankful to represent one of the most successful
teams in Little 500 history.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be behind that five (consecutive) years and 12 wins,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing how many awesome guys have come through this team and affected it in various ways. On race day, you can feel all the passion and all the rides that they went on.”

In only their seventh year of existence, the Black Key Bulls have wasted no time vaulting themselves into a yearly threat to take home the Borg-Warner Trophy. Although they haven’t won the race yet, the Bulls have placed in the top 10 every time they have competed, with a peak of third place in 2007.

Team captain Stephen Mis is confident 2012 can be the year the Bulls finally break through.

“Every year, we just keep getting better and better,” Mis said. “We’ve got a team completely devoted to winning this year. Everybody’s really ready to race, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to represent the Black Key Bulls.”

The Bulls were the only men’s team this year to send three members to the semifinals of Miss-N-Out. Those three riders — Daniel Kinn, Rex Rafferty and Brant Powell — all placed in the top 20 of Individual Time Trials.

Much like the Cutters, Teter has become the women’s team to dominate after coming on late. Unlike the Cutters, however, Teter’s run didn’t start until 2003, when they placed fifth. Since then, they have placed in the top two six times.

They have also recorded three wins in that span, including the past two. To grab their third consecutive victory, four-year rider and Cocaptain Lauren Gowdy said her team must have teamwork and confidence.

“Right now, we have four really strong riders,” she said. “As long as we go out there and do what we know how to do as far as riding goes, I think we will be successful.”

The four riders Gowdy alluded to, including herself, Lisa Hutcheson, Emma Caughlin and Ashton DeHanhn, all recorded ITT times in the top 15. Hutcheson and Caughlin placed second and fifth in Miss-N-Out, respectively.

The third-most successful team in women’s Little 500 history, Delta Gamma experienced some ups and downs early in their history. From 1989 to 1994, DG registered four top-five finishes but also didn’t qualify twice. Since 2000, however, they have consistently been a top threat. In that span, DG has placed in the top six eight times, including a win in 2008. They have also placed third the past two years. DG’s top rider, Kayce Doogs, finished fifth in the 2011 Miss-N-Out and second this year.

She also placed 10th in last year’s ITTs and third in 2012. Junior Emily Loebig said her team’s closeness is key.

“We’ve had such a great bond between everyone on this team,” she said. “It’s easy to get sick of people that you spend a lot of time with, but these girls are my best friends, and I think that bond we have is really something special. I think that helps us a lot to trust each other to do the best we can on race day.”

 

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