Two former Columbia runners will feature in the finals of the 1500-meter run on Sunday as both look to qualify for the Rio Olympics at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
Kyle Merber, CC '12, and John Gregorek, CC '14, both advanced from the semi-final round after clocking 3:48.30 and 3:45.59 times in their respective heats on Friday. The two athletes will compete against 11 other runners for three spots on the Olympic team, with the condition that the qualifiers have met the Olympic standard in any race after January 2015.
Merber and four others in the finals have already met the standard, so Sunday's race is expected to be slower than usual. Instead, the race will be more tactical as the five will prioritize position over speed.
Perhaps one of the best runners in Columbia history, Merber holds the American-born collegiate record in the 1500-meters, a blistering 3:35.59 that he ran in 2012. The Dix Hills, NY native helped the Light Blue cross country team to its first ever team appearance at the NCAA championship in 2011, and also competed in three individual NCAA track and field championships while in Morningside Heights.
Due to an injury sustained during his junior year, Merber was able to complete his last year of college eligibility while pursuing a master's degree at the University of Texas Austin. He now competes professionally for Hoka One One Shoes and the New Jersey*New York Track Club.
Gregorek, a two-time NCAA All-American in the indoor Mile, was a member of the school record setting indoor DMR squad in 2014. Hailing from Seekonk, Massachusetts, Gregorek earned a pair of runner up finishes in the indoor mile and outdoor 1500-meters at the Ivy League championships during his senior year.
Gregorek obtained a fifth year of college eligibility at the University of Oregon for the 2014-2015 season and took fourth in the mile at the Indoor NCAA Championships. He was also a part of the Ducks winning DMR team.
The finals will be held on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. in Eugene and broadcasted on ESPN.