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Rachel Brown Leads Kappa Alpha Theta to Second Straight Little 500 Victory

Rachel Brown crosses the finish line during Kappa Alpha Theta’s second straight Little 500 win in 2018. Brown rode the final 20 laps for her team and pulled away on the final lap. (Mark Timko/HN)

Sometimes the best things go unplanned.

Friday, in the 31st running of the Women’s Little 500, Kappa Alpha Theta threw their plans out the window and won the race for the second straight year.

It was in the last quarter of the race and senior Rachel Brown, the number two rider in ITT’s, had yet to see the track. She was fresh and came on for her one and only set around lap 80. Little did she know that it would be her only set.

Brown said she had no idea when she got on the bike for the first time that she would be the one to finish it out. Her coach, Ryan Knapp, said it wasn’t necessarily in the plans, but it had to happen.

“I knew he wasn’t joking because that wasn’t really the time to joke,” Brown said. “Part of me thought he couldn’t be serious. It became apparent that I had to go in and actually win in a sprint, which was exciting too, I guess.”

Theta’s pit was right next to the start/finish line. Around the 90th lap when Brown passed her pit, Knapp, had something written on a dry erase board. Brown read it and put her head down.

The synopsis of the message? She’d be the one to finish the race for Theta.

“That was not the plan,” Knapp said. “It was just the only option we ended up having. I didn’t feel like there were a lot of opportunities that the race presented to us, so I thought it was the only way to do it.”

Chaotic would be one way to describe the race. Exciting could be another. When Chappie Blackwell IV showed the white flag, there were nearly 11 teams in the lead pack. Teter led through about half of the 100th lap. Delta Gamma looked like they were close too.

But when the peloton came around turn three, Brown left the pack in the dust. She shot out of a cannon. What looked like was going to be a sprint finish, ended up a fairly significant win for Theta.

“I was told it wasn’t that close, but that absolutely blows my mind,” Brown said. “I know how much work everyone else puts in.”

Knapp described the race as people racing scared. The pace was slower, but that may have favored Theta. They sat back for much of the race and didn’t do a lot of the hard work until the latter part of the race.

Because of that, they were able to conserve energy and used that to their advantage in the end.

“There were a lot of teams that were very reactive,” Knapp said. “They didn’t have a plan other than just use our game plan. If everyone wants to ride slow, we’re not going to be the only one riding hard and pull everything around all day. If everyone wants to ride slow, we can ride slow and win in a sprint.”

Well, that’s exactly what happened. Typically sprinters get on with much less time left than when Brown got on. But it was winning time for Brown and she turned it on when it counted.

“I was just looking to stay in the race until it was time to win,” Brown said. “When it was time to win, I gave it everything I had.”

Josh Eastern

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: jeastern@thehoosiernetwork.com. Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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