The American Collegiate record holder in the 1,500-meters has decided to join the New Jersey New York Track Club. After completing his NCAA eligibility with the Texas Longhorns in 2012-2013, Kyle Merber returns to New York to begin his career as a professional runner. 

"I'm really excited to be working with Coach Gags, a coaching legend. I just trust everything he says," Merber said. "From everything I've seen and heard, he's an awesome guy to run for. Another important thing is being comfortable in your environment and I'll have that in New York for sure. Aside from running in familiar places, I'll be living with friends and family nearby."

Merber's introduction to Coach Francis X. Gagliano stemmed from his time at Columbia University. Gagliano would use the same facilities to train athletes like Liam Boylan-Pett and Delilah DiCrescenzo

In his three years competing at Columbia, Merber was a nine-time Ivy League champion and two-time NCAA qualifier. Merber was just the second Ivy League runner to break the four-minute barrier, when he ran 3:58.52 at the 2010 Columbia Last Chance meet. 

His career took a hit when he suffered a foot injury and could not compete his junior year. In his senior year, Merber returned and he defeated a field of professional runners over 1,500-meters and set the American Collegiate Record in 3:35.59. 

Merber credits his return to health during his senior year by working with the New Jersey-New York Track Club's team therapist, Tommy Nohilly. 

Merber's popularity spurred back in high school from his frequent posting on message boards and his win at the 2008 Millrose Games. When "The Real Maine" was released last summer, Merber Nation continued to grow. His most recent online activity comes from his personal blog, used to share some of his personal experiences in his final season of eligibility. 

"Throughout my years in college, I was given endless opportunities by so many people to play a sport I love, and I could never thank everyone along the way enough for what they’ve given me," Merber wrote after his final race as a Longhorn, "To my parents, family, coaches, teammates, friends and fans, thanks for being a part of the journey, and I am excited to enter into the next stage of my career, and I trust you will join me. Right now, I need some time off to recover, get rested and healthy, but I am excited to make up for some lost time."

After putting several weeks of high mileage over five years, Merber is spending his recovery time by roadtripping from Austin to Eugene, where he will root for his Texas and Columbia teammates at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championship. After the collegiate season ends, Merber will make his way New York and sit down with coach Gagliano and plan out the next year of training. 

"When I sat down with Gags, this whole thing was about getting healthy and I'll be good to go," Merber said. "The fact that he understands that and it's his main goal for me, along with having the resources, that was a big part of (the decision.)"

Chris Chavez is a staff writer for Flotrack and a journalism major at Marquette University. He once beat Joey Fatone of NSYNC in a half-marathon. Feel free to to reach him with any questions, comments, or feedback on Twitter or by email.