Hurdling the competition: Right mindset is key to Mariah Waibel’s success

Running sprints in a track meet can be one of the most difficult things to do in sports, add in hurdles to that sprint and the level of difficulty goes up to another level.

Yukon senior Mariah Waibel is currently ranked sixth-overall in the state in the 300-meter hurdles and she says a lot of it has to do with her mindset.

“It’s really important to have the right mindset when you are on the blocks,” Waibel said. “You have to be able to forget and move on really quickly if you mess up. I hit a hurdle and fell in the Yukon Classic a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty down on myself but I was able to refocus and have my best time of the year in the next meet.”

Waibel and the rest of the Yukon boys and girls track teams will compete in the 6A west regional track meet at Edmond Santa Fe High School today. The meet will last all day.

Waibel said she has a goal in mind for the regional and/or state meet for her time in the 300-meter hurdles.

“I’d like to get in the low 47 second range,” Waibel said. “My best time so far this year is in the high 47 second range, so I want to get down to the low end of 47 seconds.”

In order to advance to the 6A state meet, Waibel will have to perform well in the regional meet. If she places in the top three in the regional meet, she automatically qualifies for the state meet. If she places lower than third, it will depend on what the other hurdlers do at the other regionals in the state.

Waibel has been running track since she was a young child but she didn’t start doing hurdles until she was a freshman in high school. She started off strong in the hurdles competitions, as she qualified for the state meet as freshman but she chose not to do the hurdles as a sophomore and junior but her coach talked her into doing them again going into her senior year.

She said she’s glad she started doing hurdles again.

“I never stopped training or working out on my own when I wasn’t doing the hurdles, so when I started doing them again, I was running really good times,” Waibel said. “I really like hurdles. They are a fun challenge for me.”

Waibel said there are several things she can control when it comes to getting ready for her final two high school track meets.

“I need to make sure to eat healthy and to prepare mentally for the challenges that each meet is going to bring,” Waibel said. “I love that state is on our home track but the state meet is very challenging. The nerves are definitely different at state.”

Form has never been Waibel’s strong suit but she said she has always been able to jump well and has always had good speed.

“Form is the biggest challenge,” Waibel said. “You have to really focus hard on your form in the last 100-meters in the 300-meter race. Those last 100-meters can be really difficult and you can get tired really quickly.”

When asked what her most embarrassing moment when running the hurdles races is, Waibel laughed and said, “When I was a freshman, I was running the 300-meter hurdles and I was leading the race but I hit the last hurdle and fell hard and busted my knee up pretty good. That was pretty embarrassing at that time.”

Waibel has a twin sister named Madison who has always been Waibel’s No. 1 fan in anything she does.

“My sister and I are really close and we do everything together,” Waibel said. “We have always done everything together and she has always been my best supporter.”

When she is not on the track hurdling over bars, Waibel said she likes to work out on her own a lot.

“I love to work out on my own,” Waibel said. “My sister and I will go to the gym and we will push each other. That’s a lot of the reason why I was able to get faster and improve my times even though I wasn’t actually doing the hurdles for two years.”

Waibel is going to take her talents to the next level, as she signed with Southwestern Oklahoma State University to run hurdles on the SWOSU track team. Her sister is going to join her there as a student in Weatherford.

Waibel said she is going to study radiology at SWOSU.

“I know they have a really good radiology department, so my plan is to pursue that field,” Waibel said.

When asked what the one thing she needed to do to be successful in her final two meets of her high school career, she had one very simple, yet difficult thing to say.

“I have to keep my mind right and have the right mindset,” Waibel said.

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