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Hills West grad Kyle Merber falls short in bid to make Olympic team

Ben Blankenship and Kyle Merber compete in the

Ben Blankenship and Kyle Merber compete in the first round of the men's 1,500-,meter during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 7, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. Credit: Getty Images / Andy Lyons

Kyle Merber came up short in his bid for a trip to Rio to compete in next month’s Olympic Games.

Merber, a 2008 Half Hollow Hills West graduate, placed ninth in three minutes, 40.27 seconds in the 1,500 meter finals Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Matthew Centrowitz, who grew up in Maryland and resides in Oregon, won in 3:34.09, an Olympic Trials record. The top three racers with the Olympic standard of 3:36.2 qualified.

It was Merber’s second attempt at qualifying for Team USA. He failed to get past the first round in 2012, the same year he graduated from Columbia University.

This year was an entirely different story. He was third in his first-round heat, clocking a 3:50.07 Thursday. He ran fourth in his semifinal heat, posting a 3:48.30 Friday.

This all came after Merber, 25, battled a hip injury this spring. He missed May and only raced once in June, clocking a 3:41.25 at the Princeton Qualifier.

“[The injury] came on really quick at the end of April,” Merber, who lives and trains in New Jersey, told Newsday earlier this month. “At the time, I was in really good shape. Although I missed a month, I cross trained extremely hard and have been training hard since. My fitness is back and as good as if it’s every been.”

Together with his sponsor, the shoe company Hoka One One, Merber organizes the Long Island Mile. The inaugural event took place last summer at St. Anthony’s High School and saw seven men break four minutes and three women come to the line in a virtual tie.

The event also features community races that precede the professional race. More than 150 athletes participated in the community races last year. Over 3,000 fans lined the Huntington Station High School track, cheering them on. This year’s version is scheduled for Aug. 31, according to Merber’s official website.

As a high schooler, Merber was named Newsday’s Boys Indoor Track and Field Runner of the Year in 2008 and was a three-time Newsday All-Long Island selection, according to Newsday records.

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