By ANDY WOLF
Don’t talk to Xavier Marable on race day.
He won’t talk to you.
“I’m always listening to music. I have, what my parents call, an attitude,” the University of Findlay sophomore sprinter said. “After that I’m perfectly fine.”
Marable is one of five UF athletes competing at the Division II indoor national track and field meet this weekend at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama. The meet runs from Friday through Saturday.
An All-American as a freshman last season, Marable will again run in the 400-meter dash preliminaries at 4:10 p.m. Friday. He’s seeded fourth at 46.85 seconds.
He’s in the third of four heats in lane five — in the middle two spots but closer to the outside where the turns are wider.
“There’s kind of an advantage to see what everyone runs and to know what I have to do to make finals,” Marable said.
Marable went down to last year’s indoor national meet with the mindset of “just run” as a true freshman.
It earned him sixth place in 47.33 seconds.
“I’ve learned to use the nerves you get from it and just turn it into energy to then use in the race,” he said.
One year older, Marable is much more confident heading into his second national meet.
The confidence comes with entering and performing well at big meets.
He ran a 46.91 at the Penn State National Open this season — which allowed him to run at the United States Track and Field Indoor National Championship on Feb. 9 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He finished 11th (47.41) out of 15 runners, getting more of an experience than worrying about placement.
Marable kept up his success and was named Great Midwest Athletic Conference Track Athlete of the Meet after winning the 200, the 400 and running on the winning 1,600 relay.
It was there he ran his seed time, a converted 46.85 based on the style of track.
“I have worked on getting out a little faster than I have in the past and maintaining that in the second lap,” he said.
As for goals for nationals, Marable is hoping to place higher than last year and is aiming to best the top seed mark set by Ashland’s Trevor Bassitt (Bluffton grad) at 46.33.
“If I could run lower than that, that would be amazing,” he said.
He’ll be joined by junior teammates Martin Etsey and Sterling Mungro, who will compete in the field events.
Etsey is the sixth seed in the long jump at 15.30 meters. The long jump final is set for 4:00 p.m. Friday.
Mungro qualified in both the shot put (13th seed, 17.39 meters) and the weight throw (11th, 19.87m) — one of three men to do so in both. Mungro has the weight throw final at 1:30 p.m. Friday and the shot final at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
On the women’s side, only Hannah Hahler qualified in the shot put and freshman Lindsey Kluesener in the pole vault.
Hahler, a fifth-year senior, is seeded ninth at 14.90 meters, or 48-103/4, and will be competing in her first indoor national meet.
She was a second-team All-American at the 2018 outdoor national meet, taking ninth. She slipped to 17th at nationals the following outdoor season.
“It was pretty disappointing last year not to make (indoor) so I’m glad I have the opportunity to make it to this year,” she said.
Hahler is having her best indoor season so far.
“I think I’m more relaxed now,” she said.
She’s eying a throw of 15 meters, something she’s only done twice, and just to simply get into the finals.
“This is my fifth year so you’ve got to trust the process and know that all the lifting, practicing and time you put in is going to work at the end,” Hahler said.
Hahler feels having previous outdoor national meet experience will help for her first of the indoor variety when she’s out there by herself in the throwing ring.
“Yes, you’re on a team but you’re the only one in the ring. Everybody around you in that area is looking at you,” she said. “That has definitely built my confidence.”
Hahler’s weeks leading up to nationals has included extra practices to sharpen form — and extra clinicals as a nursing major. She completed 40 hours worth of clinicals during spring break last week, needing 315 total hours this semester before graduation.
“You come to a practice and if you’re thinking about schoolwork in the back of your mind you’re not going to have a solid practice,” she said. “I just try to clear my head and just trust all the time put in.”
Hahler will compete at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Kluesener is seeded 12th at 4.01m, or 13-13/4 — a current UF indoor record — and will compete at 3:55 p.m. on Friday.