Big 12 Campus Correspondent
There are athletes who lead by example; there are athletes who selflessly cheer for those standing beside them; there are athletes who make an impact on those around them; and, then there is Marielle Hall, who encompasses those intangible aspects of leadership with the grace of a true winner. As a senior distance runner for The University of Texas, Hall has created a legacy of greatness. She is the type of leader that programs seek and are very fortunate to have on their roster. She is the type of leader that coaches dream of encountering and pushing to success.
“Having Marielle here at Texas is a great thing for us. It's great for the program to have somebody with such range,” said UT assistant coach, Brad Herbster, who oversees the cross country and distance units. “From a leadership standpoint, it would be hard to replace somebody like Marielle because she has such respect from the team. The men and women both look up to her. She does all the right things and has a daily process of taking care of herself and doing all of the little things to be at a high level.”
Hall has been at the top of her game since the fall. She claimed the first Big 12 Cross Country individual title in program history in November and went on to win the NCAA South Central Regional crown to earn her fourth trip to the national meet. She finished 29th at the 2013 NCAA Championships to secure her second cross country All-America honor.
Hall kept rolling during the indoor season. She was voted the top female performer at the Big 12 Indoor Championships where she won the mile and 3,000-meter titles. However, Hall came up short on her journey to compete at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships where only 16 competitors earn berths in each individual event. Her training routine and her mentality were both different at the time, but she has been determined since that stretch to make the necessary adjustments and to have a more successful outdoor season.
“As a senior, it’s kind of your role to be able to contribute and bring back titles. I was obviously very upset when I didn't make the indoor championships, but I had a lot of good people around to remind me that it was just one stop on the road and that I have another championship to go after,” said Hall. “I really just needed to stay focused and maybe go back to some of the things I was doing during the cross country season. Not necessarily just physically, but mentally being in the place I was then and being confident and competitive.”
So far during the outdoor season, confident and competitive are just what Hall has been. She has turned that into even more impressive performances as the five-time Big 12 champion has the top time in the nation this year in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meters.
Hall achieved a personal best on her home track at the Texas Relays on March 29, when she ran the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 17.10 seconds. One week later at the Stanford Invitational, she set a UT record in the 5,000 by clocking a 15:19.26. That time also stands at No. 10 on the all-time outdoor collegiate performance list and is second in the world this season.
Hall recently added two more honors to her list of accomplishments this season. She received the Big 12 Track and Field Female Athlete of the Week just two days after earning the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Female Athlete of the Week award. Both were for her record performance at the Stanford Invite.
“There are so many talented women and men nationally, so for the Coaches Association to pick me out of everyone who’s doing incredible things throughout the year is a big honor,” said Hall. “I’m just excited to be able to represent the school as best as I can.”
Herbster is confident that Hall has a chance to compete for an NCAA outdoor title.
“For the rest of the season, as we get into the championship part, I want her to have a good time with it. I want her to have success at conference and at nationals,” said Herbster. “Depending what events we race her in, she'll have a good ability to mix things up. On the national level, I'd like to at least get her up into the top two or three, with a shot to win it.”
Hall may have achieved each accomplishment on her own merit with her own athletic ability, but her support system keeps her going and is the backbone for her in the fight to finish strong.
“As a runner at UT, you get to be part of something that's bigger than you, and I just really want to have fun with that,” said Hall. “When my family gets an opportunity to see me race, that's even more special. I'm always excited when they're here and still want to do the best I can when they aren't so that they have something to be proud of.”
Hall’s Texas career is coming to a close, but she still has work to do. The native of Haddonfield, N.J., will get to compete close to home later this month at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia. That will be one of the final meets before the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, which take place May 16-18 in Lubbock, Texas.
Hall is hoping to take the rest of the season one moment at a time, but June’s NCAA Outdoor Championships are on her mind, and she hopes to reach it in her final season in burnt orange.