UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Track & Field’s Handal Roban will head to the NCAA Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. on March 10-11 to compete in the men’s 800-meter run.
Roban’s 1:47.01 mark he set at the Penn State National Open on January 28 slots in as the No. 16 time in the country heading into the championship meet. He is the top-ranked freshman in the field, qualifying at No. 14 overall.
The Nittany Lion freshman phenom is fresh off a second-place finish in the 800m at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in which he finished just 0.01 seconds behind teammate Olivier Desmeules who ran a 1:47.87 to take the top spot. This is the second consecutive year the Nittany Lions will send a freshman to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships, as Allison Johnson qualified on the women’s side last season.
The Nittany Lions finished 2023 as the No. 2 team in the USTFCCCA #EventSquad rankings in the men’s 800-meter run with a young core of middle-distance runners already breaking into the Nittany Lion record books.
JUST MISSED THE CUT
The Nittany Lions narrowly missed out on four additional NCAA berths following incredible efforts by members of the squad at the Big Ten Championships. The top 16 accepted marks in the country earn trips to the NCAA Championships and four Nittany Lions came within striking distance but ultimately didn’t make the cut.
Desmeules’ 1:47.29 time in the qualifying round of the 800m at the Big Ten Championships left him just 0.01 seconds out of a spot in the NCAA meet, with Will Sumner of Georgia and his 1:47.28 entered as the final competitor in the event.
Tyler Merkley was just one centimeter short of an NCAA berth in the men’s weight throw. The Nittany Lion graduate student did everything he could in his third-place finish at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, breaking 22 meters for the first time in his career with a 22.05m throw, only to fall short of a shot at the NCAA meet. Andrew White of Wake Forest and his mark of 22.06m was the final entry accepted in the weight throw competition.
Mallory Kauffman fell just 16 centimeters shy of her own trip to NCAAs. The Nittany Lion senior posted a 17.17m (56-4) throw in early December that ranks as the 22nd-best throw in the country.
The Big Ten Champion in the women’s 800m, Rachel Gearing, finished 0.33 seconds out…
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