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'Win this damn race': Heavy hearts as Cutters wins its 14th Little 500 title

Cutters senior Noble Guyon came around turn four of the final lap on the wheel of Black Key Bulls senior Xavier Martinez.

As he came into the final straightaway, Guyon burst past Martinez to win the race, throwing his arms up in the air as he crossed the finish line.

When Guyon got back to the pit to celebrate, he found one teammate in particular, junior Greg Huibregtse.

"As he finished the sprint, he told me his sprint was for my dad," Huibregtse said.

In the final days leading up to the race, Huibregtse lost his father, William, after a year long battle with leukemia. The Cutters dedicated its race to him.

"He told me he wanted to 'Win this damn race,'" Huibregtse said.

With Huibregtse's father on the minds of the four riders, Cutters won its second straight and 14th overall Little 500 title. The Cutters finished with a time of 2:10:25. Bears finished second and Black Key Bulls was third.

"Who knows why, but the race picked us again," Cutters Coach Jim Kirkham said.

Heading into the final lap the race looked all but won, and not by Cutters. Phi Kappa Psi went into the final lap with a lead of nearly five seconds. Though with its rider out of gas, the team made an exchange, a move that possibly cost it the race.

Guyon and Martinez blew past Phi Kappa Psi as it made its exchange, setting up the final sprint between the two fastest riders in the race.

"I was pretty surprised," Guyon said. "If they hadn't exchanged, they probably would have had it."

"He was going to win the race," Kirkham said. "He essentially gave us the victory."

Guyon said that he was committed to waiting on Martinez's wheel during the final stretch of the race, waiting for his moment to sprint ahead.

"He's the best sprinter in the Little 5 field I think," Huibregtse said. "They knew they couldn't beat him in a sprint."

Cutters sat back in the midst of the main field for nearly the entire race. Teams like NEH Cycling, Jetblach and Phi Kappa Psi made the most notable breakaway attempts.

NEH and Jetblach gained a lead of nearly 20 seconds during the first half of the race before being pulled back into the group. Phi Kappa Psi made its push during the latter half of the race, a move that may have been a reason why it was so tired heading into the final lap.

"A lot of teams that weren't top contender teams trying to attack," Kirkham said. "We absorbed some of those hits. We had to do some work that we didn't do last year, put in more effort to make sure the race stayed together. A few of those were legit chances that those teams were going to win."

With Guyon in the saddle, Cutters knew it didn't have to make its move until the very end.

"I will never doubt him again," Kirkham said. "Not that I even doubted him this year."

There were tears amidst the celebration for the Cutters riders and team members, both on stage during the trophy presentation and among hugs at the finish line. The emotions of the win and of the people they had done it before all poured out.

"It's been a really heavy week with the excitement of race day but also the sadness of losing a family member of someone you live with, and see everyday and consider a family member," Guyon said. "We just wanted to really support him all week and all race day and really wanted to win it for his dad. I know he would have loved to be here to watch him do it."

The Cutters did it for William. They had won the damn race.

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