Seniors ready for their final home meet


Then-sophomore Andy Bayer celebrates setting IU's 3000 meter record with 7:48.35 during the Gladstein Invitational on Jan. 21, 2011, held indoors at the Gladstein Field House. Bayer compete Friday in his final home meet as a Hoosier. IDS file photo Buy Photos

IU’s track and field team will get one more tune-up meet before the 2013 outdoor regular season comes to a close. IU will host the 35th annual Billy Hayes Invitational this Friday in the Hoosiers’ home finale.

This will be the seniors’ final meet at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex. IU Coach Ron Helmer said it’s important to them to finish strong, but the team is keeping bigger goals in mind. Next Friday the team will travel to Columbus, Ohio for the start of the Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

“It’s important to them to perform well at home, but we don’t get caught up in that too much,” Helmer said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to see somebody getting a huge one this week and that causes them to fall on their face next week when it matters.”

This weekend will also serve as the home finale for a men’s senior class, led by a pair of NCAA Champions, that helped redefine IU track and field.

Derek Drouin is one of the most decorated athletes in Indiana University history. He has won an Olympic bronze medal in the high jump, four NCAA high jump championships, seven Big Ten Championships and two National Field Athlete of the Year awards during his time as a Hoosier. Drouin will compete in the 110-meter hurdles and javelin throw on Friday.

Andy Bayer helped build the men’s distance program to one of the country’s elite, as he has anchored the distance medley relay team to a second place finish in the NCAA Championships. He won the 1,500-meter NCAA Championship last year. He will run the 800-meter this weekend, a shorter distance than he’s used to, but one that he said is important for his training.

With friends and family in town for graduation, these two NCAA Champions will compete for the last time as Hoosiers in Bloomington.

Another athlete making her final appearance at home is senior Courtney Woodard. She plans on competing in the heptathlon in the Big Ten Championships on May 10-12, and she’s entered in four different events to prepare — the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the javelin throw and the 4x400-meter relay.

“I’m actually really sad about it,” Woodard said. “It’s weird because I only have a few meets left and then I’m done with track forever. I’m excited and sad at the same time.”

The coaching staff has been resting Woodard recently in order to prepare her for the strong performance she will need at the Big Ten Championships in the heptathlon. However, she is entered in four events for the Billy Hayes Invitational.

“I need a big performance at Big Tens to score for nationals, so we’ve just been getting my head right to make sure that I’m going into the meet ready,” Woodard said. “I don’t know why I’m doing so many events all of a sudden, but this will prepare me for the heptathlon, at least.”

Helmer said Woodard is among the athletes he expects to finish the season — and her college career — very well. He said she falls into the category of those that need a solid meet this weekend to springboard into championship season.

Last weekend, the Hoosiers found success across the board at the historic Penn Relays. Drouin broke a 37-year old facility record in the high jump to capture his third straight Penn Relays watch in the event. Freshman Sophie Gutermuth won the pole vault competition, followed by her freshman teammate Syndey Clute, and the team also achieved eight other top-five finishes. Helmer said the team will need to build on that energy and a successful meet this weekend will serve as a spark into the Big Ten Championships.

“I think if we can just continue to go forward like we have the last couple weekends, that would be a success,” he said. “To have a group of people who are sitting right on the verge of taking a big step forward and add more people to that group.

“The other thing we’re looking for is some of the people who’ve gotten big marks but been sloppy and inconsistent need to compose themselves and have a solid meet. I don’t know that we’re looking for any huge marks, but certainly steps forward.”

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