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Former IU, Leo runner signs with Nike

BLOOMINGTON - Leo graduate and former Indiana distance runner Andy Bayer signed a contract with Nike and will begin training in Oregon soon.

The 12-time All-American officially signed with the shoe company after reaching an agreement Thursday.

"It's great to finally get this finished," Bayer said. "It's been a long time of kind of being in this limbo."

Bayer holds the IU records in the mile, 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs.

His 3:52.90 in the mile in July during the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games in London set the record time for an Indiana native in the event, as well as the Hoosiers' all-time mark.

Now, the Leo grad who was unheralded and unknown is a professional runner.

"I never really expected this," he said. "It's just a blessing, and it's pretty cool. It definitely wasn't something that coming into high school or coming into college I was expecting at all."

Bayer plans to marry fellow former IU distance runner Chelsea Blanchard on Oct. 12 in Fort Wayne. The couple will then move to Portland.

"My fiancé and I have kind of been hoping to get it done," he said. "We didn't know where we were gonna live or what we were gonna do, and I had to kind of put her life on hold."

Now, the two are preparing for a future in Portland, where Bayer will train on a daily basis with top-flight competition and be under the tutelage of Jerry Schumacher, one of the best U.S. distance running coaches.

The 2016 Olympics are a realistic goal if Bayer can continue to grow the way he did from high school to college. He will begin preparing for national and international competitions as soon as he gets to Portland.

The Nike sponsorship gives Bayer a chance to build on the sudden success that's followed him since his senior season at Leo.

"That was kind of the thought going into this: What's going to give me the best chance to make the Olympic teams, the World Championships teams," Bayer said. "I had a good summer this summer in Europe, but to be at the top or competing for medals and everything at the World Championships, the Olympics, you have to make another step forward."