Marielle Hall catapulted into the national running conciousness in a big way in 2014, lowering her 5,000 meters PR by more than a minute and capturing the NCAA title in her last race for the University of Texas.
In the months that followed, she returned to her high school coach, Derek Thompson, and began a training partnership with Ajee Wilson, the 2014 world leader in the 800 meters.
It's been a whirlwind year for Hall, who is now a professional rookie and will compete at the NYRR Millrose Games on Saturday in the 3,000 meters.
In the aftermath of her NCAA victory, a surprising win over seven-time national champion Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth, Hall needed to chart a new course for her post-season career.
She got an opportunity to go to Europe for one race in Ireland and two in Belgium.
"The fields over there were larger and more aggressive than what I was used to," Hall said. "I learned a lot. I was happy with (the trip). For me, just to get to go was a lot."
Coincidentally, Hall was paired with Wilson in their Belgium hotel. The two knew each other but only as acquaintances.
When she returned to states, Hall went to Austin to pack up her things and then moved back to New Jersey.
She knew it was time to pay Thompson a visit. She needed a coach.
"I went with my dad to his house," Hall said. "I asked him if (coaching me) was something that he would be willing to do. I knew he'd been working with Ajee and was obviously successful with that."
Thompson said yes.
"That was good," Hall said. "Finding a coaching situation (that fits) is one of the hardest things you have to do after you finish (college)."
Hall, a 2010 graduate of Haddonfield HS (N.J.), won the mile at the National Scholastic meet at The Armory her senior year in 4:59.16. She also was on the USA team that competed in the World Youth Championships in 2009.
At Texas, her career proceeded at a steady -- if unspectacular -- pace. As a junior and senior she placed inside the top 30 at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. She entered her senior year of track with a 5,000 meters PR of 16:22.83 (from 2012).
Few saw it coming when she ran 15.19.22 at the Stanford Invitational last April.
After years of mental and physical challenges during her first three years at Texas, it all came together as a senior.
Now, in Philadelphia, Hall and Wilson are part of a small group that includes Lucy Yates of Great Britain (a former student-turned-graduate assistant at La Salle) and Jamaican Kimara McDonald. There are also a couple of men in the group, Alfredo Santana (formerly of La Salle) and Charles Ross, who ran at Pitt.
It's a varied group that includes strenghts from the 400 to 10,000.
"Derek says we can all help each other," Hall said. "There are some days where I'm hanging on the best I can (in speed workouts). There are other days where I'll lead the workouts. It's been a good matchup for people step up in their roles."
Even though Hall is older than Wilson, she is learning from someone who has quickly risen into the stratosphere of global track and field. Wilson was sixth at the 2013 World Championships as an 18-year-old.
"It's been nice to see how she trains and how she works," Hall said. "It's been good to fall in line and learn from her. Her attitude, it's really laid back but she's always working hard. She's a cool person, calm about everything. It sort of makes you forget (how good she is) and then she'll blast one (interval) on you so you wake up and remember."
Hall is confident that she's in the right place, with the right people, to make significant improvement and justify her professional shoe contract with Nike.
"The work that I'm doing I know is a lot different from anything I've done in college," Hall said. "I'm no longer trying to peak for June, now it's looking at possibly the end of August or September. But the biggest thing is that I'm confident in my coach and what he can do. You roll with it, especially when you know the people around you are good."