Bayer had a stand-out year as he led the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten team title since 1992 at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships in February.
There, he took two individual titles in the mile and 3,000-meter races.
As for the outdoor season, he won the 1,500-meter Big Ten title at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which helped IU place third behind University of Wisconsin and University of Nebraska.
His accomplishments ceased to end there as he fought off Brigham Young University defending champion Miles Batty by .01 of a second to win the NCAA 1,500-meter title on June 9. Bayer is continuing in Eugene, Ore., competing Thursday in the Olympic trials.
Bayer is joined by three teammates at the trials. Kind Butler held down the spot as number eight of 16 qualifying runners in the 400-meter dash with a time of 45.67.
Molly Beckwith, a 2010 IU graduate, finished the 800-meter race in 2:00.61, giving her the fastest time in the preliminary round.
And 2003 graduate Danielle Carruthers ran the 100-meter hurdles, finishing fourth. Bayer is set to run in the 1,500-meter qualifying race at 4:20 p.m. Thursday.
The Indiana Daily Student got in touch with Bayer to talk about his season.
IDS How does it feel to be an NCAA Champion and Athlete of the Year?
Bayer It was cool, definitely a great honor for Athlete of the Year. I mean, IU’s athletic department is so strong, and I know we have a lot of good athletes just on the track team that I can think of that work so hard.
I mean it’s just a cool honor to win. And NCAA is really special. I’ve been pretty close the last couple years in a few events. I got second a couple times, so it’s nice to finally win one.
IDS You’ve run the 3,000-meter and the mile, so how is it that you decided to focus on the 1,500-meter?
Bayer Well, outdoor is a little bit different events than indoor. Indoor has the mile, the 3k and the 5k, but outdoor just has the 1,500 and the 5k and then something called the steeplechase, and I ran the steeplechase.
So, I only had the option between the 15 and the 5k. Just the way the schedule was set up at the NCAA meet, it was going to be hard to double in the 15 and the 5k just because they’re close together.
It would’ve made it harder to win a title in the 15, and we decided that’s what we kind of wanted to go for. We decided to settle on that. We thought that was my best chance to win and help
out the team.
IDS How are you preparing for the Olympic trials?
Bayer Kind of just going into it like the NCAA meet. I mean, the competition will be even better than the NCAA meet, but I don’t want to get too warmed up just because it’s a bigger meet.
I’m just going to race like I have been. I think if I race as well as I have been at NCAA’s and Big Ten’s it should go pretty well.
IDS What’s your routine?
Bayer I did a harder workout today. Right now we kind of taper for the bigger meets at the end of the season.
Today, I did a mini workout, I guess you would say to get my legs going and my heart rate up. The day before my race I’ll do just a little pre-meet, five- or six-mile run and some strides.
Then the day of the race, I normally just get up and do a 10-minute exercise in the morning and warm up for the race, and that’s it.
IDS What goes through your head during a race?
Bayer I mean, mostly you try to focus on the guys ahead of you and make sure you’re in a good position.
The 1,500’s not as bad because it’s shorter, but in longer races you try to keep your mind off the fact that you have a long way to go or hurting at the time.
So, I just try to relax and stay as comfortable as possible and keep myself in a good position.
And then as you get closer toward the end, I just think about when I think I want to make my move to give me my best shot.
You don’t want to go too early because lots of times it’s harder to lead than it is to follow. If you go too early, a lot of guys can kind of feed off you.
I just try to focus on when I think it’s the best time that I can go and make sure the last move I make can pull me through to the finish and win, I guess.
IDS Are you glad to have a fellow Hoosier at the trials with you?
Bayer Yeah, it’s nice to have kind of a big group. We have a lot of both current athletes and alumni.
There’s one other distance guy here with me, (recent IU graduate) DeSean Turner, who ran the steeplechase. Kind Butler is running the two and the four.
It’s nice to have a big group. It’s not fun to go to meets and be all by yourself the whole time. I mean, I’m here for like eight days, and it’s not that fun to hang out at a hotel by yourself.
IDS How’s the support system between all of you? Do you feed off of each other’s energy?
Bayer Oh, for sure. I mean, it definitely helps to see other people doing well. Even more so at Big Ten’s and Nationals, where they’re scored team wise. The Olympic trials is more individual.
Big Ten’s and things like that, you’re focused on your team and what they do encourages you, and then you try to encourage your teammates with what you do and give your team the best chance to win.
IDS How did it feel to carry IU to its first Big Ten team title since 1992?
Bayer It was definitely exciting. We’ve been working at it for quite a few years. My freshman year, the first Big Ten meet I was at, we were last in the Big Ten at the outdoor meet.
We’ve come a long way, and it took the whole team’s effort. I think we won by four points. Everybody did their part, and across the board everyone performed
I don’t think we had a bad performance the whole meet, really. That’s what it takes every time to win a Big Ten Championship. It was really exciting.
I think that was one of the biggest highlights of the year of anything. Winning the NCAA as an individual was definitely really cool, but the Big Ten title was one of the most exciting things, in my mind.
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