Daily Reporter staff reports
BLOOMINGTON — Greenfield native Lauren Brand and the Phoenix Cycling team put it all on the line during the 2016 women’s Little 500 in Bloomington this month.
The second-year independent cycling team won in a thrilling finale down the final straightaway at Bill Armstrong Stadium as Tabitha Sherwood powered the squad 0.051 seconds ahead of runner-up Delta Gamma.
“I never doubted that Tabitha wouldn’t get first because she’s the most strong-willed and dedicated person,” Brand told the Indiana Daily Student. “There’s no way she was going to let someone beat her.”
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Sherwood dueled Delta Gamma’s Kristen Bignal to the end and rode the first 27 laps to put Phoenix Cycling into contention early before the team’s first exchange.
The Phoenix Cycling team placed second at the Little 500 in 2015 behind Kappa Alpha Theta, with McKayla Bull as one of the group’s four competitors.
This year, Melissa Ragatz of Bloomington joined the team, which consisted of four seniors. The title is the first for Sherwood of Culver, Brand, Ragatz and Clara Butler of Great Lakes, Illinois.
Teter finished third in front of Kappa Alpha Theta, which was attempting to become the only women’s team in race history to win three consecutive titles.
Instead, it was Phoenix’s year after countless hours of training and self-funding.
“It honestly means everything,” Brand said to the Indiana Daily Student. “We worked so hard for it. Phoenix is probably not going to even be a thing next year, so for us seniors to go out with a bang, it’s been cool to do some awesome things.”
Brand is a graduate of Greenfield-Central and a former high school standout tennis and soccer player.