The top five of each of the two semifinal heats, plus the next two fastest times would advance to Saturday’s final race. Merber ran a strong race in Heat 1, moving into fourth place by the 1,100m mark with a split time of 2:43.72. In the final 400m, North Carolina State’s Ryan Hill came charging up from eighth to take first place and four more runners in the middle of the pack made their move, passing Merber, who finished 10 with a time of 3:48.34. That time ranked 21st among the student-athletes in the NCAA semifinal field.
Columbia has one student-athlete still waiting to compete at this year’s NCAA Championships. On Saturday, first-year sensation Nadia Eke will compete in the trials/final round of the women’s triple jump starting at 11 a.m. Saturday’s events will be on ESPN3.com and will also be televised on ESPNU in a window beginning at 12 p.m. (E.T.).
Thursday’s race marked the end of one of the most impressive track careers in Columbia history and it was capped by an outstanding senior campaign. On Monday, Merber was named the USTFCCCA’s 2012 Northeast Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year. Last month, Merber, received one of the 2012 Connie S. Maniatty Outstanding Senior Student-Athlete Awards in recognition of his stellar Lions career.
Merber enjoyed a terrific 2012 outdoor track season. He set a new American collegiate record in the 1,500m at the Swarthmore College Last Chance Meet on May 14, clocking a time of 3:35.59. That time was the second-fastest collegiate time ever, the second-fastest U.S. time this year and the 15th-fastest time in the world this year. In addition, Merber was an Ivy League champion in the 1,500m and the 4x800m relay, running the third leg of a quartet that set a conference record with a time of 7:20.53.
During the 2012 indoor track season, Merber clocked the second sub-four-minute mile of his career (3:59.44) at the Columbia Last Chance Meet in The Armory. He was also won titles in the mile and the distance medley relay at the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Championships.
In the fall of 2011, Merber had a strong cross country season, leading the Columbia men to their first-ever team appearance at the NCAA Championships. He also took second place in the unbelieve at the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships.
Merber’s 2011-12 campaign was his successful comeback from a foot injury that sidelined him for his entire 2010-11 junior year. Prior to the injury, Merber had established himself as a rising star as a miler and middle-distance runner. As a sophomore in 2009-10, Merber led the Lions to the 2009 Ivy League Cross Country championship title and set the Ivy League and Columbia record in the indoor mile with a time of 3:58.52. He competed at the 2010 NCAA National Indoor Championships in the men’s mile that winter.
Over the course of his Columbia career, Merber was part of 10 Ivy League titles for Columbia and set three Ivy League records. Here is a rundown of Merber’s accomplishments as a Columbia Lion:
Ivy League Titles
2009 Cross Country Men’s Team Title
2009 Indoor 4x800m Relay
2010 Indoor 3,000m
2010 Indoor Distance Medley Relay
2010 Outdoor 1,500m
2010 Outdoor 4x800m Relay
2012 Indoor Mile
2012 Indoor Distance Medley Relay
2012 Outdoor 1,500m
2012 Outdoor 4x800m Relay
Ivy League Records
Indoor Mile: 3:58.52 (set in 2010)
Outdoor 1,500m: 3:35.59 (set in 2012, AMERICAN COLLEGIATE RECORD)
Outdoor 4x800m: 7:20.53 (set in 2012)