Penn: Maybe This Will Be The Year For Bayer, Indiana
(press release)
 

MAYBE THIS WILL BE THE YEAR FOR ANDY BAYER AND INDIANA

At last year's Penn Relays, Andy Bayer anchored Indiana to within 2:04.23 of two Championship of America relay titles.
 
And in this year's indoor NCAA championship meet, Bayer, a senior from Leo, Ind., brought the Hoosiers to within 1.29 seconds of the distance medley relay championship. And in between those meets he was fourth in the 1,500 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
 
But he won something, the NCAA outdoor championship at 1,500 meters, so it hasn't been all bad luck.
 
"I felt strong at Penn last year but I didn't have that closing speed," Bayer said of his third-place (behind Princeton) in the DMR and third (behind Princeton and Columbia) in the 4xmile relay. "It's always tough there. It was there for us, but Donn Cabrell (Princeton's anchor on both relays) was at the top of his game."
 
What Bayer appreciated about Franklin Field is how the crowd got into distance relays. Following a race for four miles isn't what the crowd comes to see.
 
"It's awesome," he said. "The Penn Relay crowd is like no other. Rarely do you get the chance to run a distance relay like that. The 4xmile is run around the time of the USA vs. the World and it's kind of electric.
 
"My uncle was there and he sat with a bunch of Jamaican people and got the whole section cheering for Indiana."
 
Leo sounds like one of the easiest-going competitors you'll meet. Like his take on his fourth-place Trials finish.
 
"I just barely qualified," he said. "We had a meet at our place on the last day you could qualify and I got in. I still didn't hit the 'A' standard, so I decided let's see if I can make the final and see how many guys I can beat.
 
"Most people would be disappointed with fourth place at the Olympic Trials, but under the circumstances I was pretty happy."
 
Leo was a walk-on at Indiana.
 
"I wasn't their (Indiana coaches) top priority, then I showed some signs of life my senior year (of high school)," he explained.
 
But now he's ready for some unfinished business at Franklin Field. Bayer will again anchor Indiana's distance medley and 4xmile relays.
 
"It's all about putting ourselves in a good spot," he said, adding that he thought his team has a better shot in the 4xmile.
 
And let's see if Indiana has that Jamaican support again.
 

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--FRANK BERTUCCI