Where: Des Moines, Iowa
Men’s 1,500 meters
Semifinals: 7:15 p.m. Thursday
Finals: 12:17 p.m. Saturday
FORT WAYNE — Indiana distant runner Andy Bayer is healthy and ready to compete on one of the NCAA’s biggest stages.
The Leo graduate will run in his first outdoor championships this week at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
The 6-foot, 140-pound junior will run in the 1,500 meters, which begins with the semifinals Thursday. The finals are Saturday.
“I’m excited to go to an outdoor one,” said Bayer who has competed in indoor championships the last three years. “I’m happy to be healthy at this point of the season. The last couple of years, I’ve kind of been hurt right around this time of the year.
“I think our team has a really good shot at getting a trophy for the first time. I think that is exciting. The top four are trophy teams I think. I don’t know the last time, we finished that high. That is kind of cool. That is the most exciting thing I think, our chance to do that well as a team.”
Bayer is also looking forward to having a lighter workload at the outdoor meet. He ran the mile, 3,000 and 5,000 when IU won the Big Ten indoor meet, and he finished fifth in the mile and 15th in the 3,000 at the indoor championships this year.
“Indoor is kind of cool because there are more events to try and do well in,” Bayer said. “But it is kind of fun with outdoor having one race I’m really focusing on and I don’t have to worry about anything else. They both have their benefits.
“At this point in the season, I’m happy it is just one event and I can focus on doing that. I feel it gives me a better chance to end up winning.”
Bayer, who redshirted his freshman year, has accomplished a lot in his three years competing with the Hoosiers. He has run 15 sub-4-minute miles (or the equivalent), earned All-American honors seven times and has four individual Big Ten titles.
He also won the state high school 3,200 title in 2008.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” Bayer said of his career. “Indoor was exciting (this year). We won a Big Ten title indoor and had a really good Big Ten indoor meet. Then went to nationals and had a good meet there, we were sixth as a team. It was the first time I ran the mile indoor, and I was fifth. I was all right with that.
“I’ve been pretty excited about it all. I think I have a good shot in the 1,500 this weekend.”
Bayer said he knows the competition will be tough at the outdoor championships. He said he is looking forward to going up against Tulane senior Chris O’Hare, who won the indoor mile title this year, and BYU junior Miles Batty, who won the indoor mile in 2011.
“It is exciting competing with the top guys and know I’m a contender and everything,” Bayer said. “It will be fun to get up there and mix it up with them. I think I’m in a position where I can beat anybody if I have a good race.”
Bayer isn’t just aiming to win a NCAA title this week, he is also trying to solidify a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials that run June 21 to July 1 in Eugene, Ore.
Bayer already reached the B standard time of 3 minutes, 43 seconds when he ran a 3:39.5.
But to secure an automatic spot in the trials he needs to run a 3:39.
“I’m hoping to hit it in the NCAA, but if not, I will probably try to go to a meet in Indy and hit that 3:39 flat,” said Bayer, who would have another chance to qualify at the American Milers Club High Performance Series event June 13 in Indianapolis.