Marei to play NAIA invitational game at semester’s end

While the Hastings College football season ended on Nov 16 in a 23-point loss to Dakota Wesleyan University, Senior Defensive Lineman Abdul Marei will get the opportunity to play one more collegiate game.

Just before the season started in late August, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that Marei would be one of the 116 seniors qualified to play in the game on Dec. 14 in Savannah, Georgia.

“When I came to Hastings I always wanted to, at the end of my senior year, have some bowl games to continue to showcase my talent. It definitely was one of my goals, and I’m very honored that I was selected to play in that game, and I can’t wait,” Marei said.

Marei, a native of Houston, Texas, spent his first couple of years at Peru State before transferring to Hastings as a junior. Marei came to Hastings College after “feeling a good vibe” from the coaching staff, specifically Head Coach Tony Harper and Defensive Line Coach EJ Valentine.

Following his junior campaign, in which he was named Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) All-Conference honorable mention. He was also ninth on the team with 37 tackles, along with three tackles-for-loss. Marei came into his senior year with expectations of dominating from his position. As a team player, Marei wanted to make sure that he did his part in helping the team until the final buzzer. 

“My determination goes a long way. I always put it in the back of my head even when I’m tired,. What am I doing this for and why I’m here. (I’ve) gone through some stuff, and that taught me life lessons, and that’s what made me keep going,” Marei said.

As the year went along with the team struggling to win games, Marei had to keep reminding himself how to balance individual success from getting in the way of the team. While stats were important, Marei knew that he just wanted to contribute in any way possible.

“What I’ll remember most is the people that were around me, my teammates and my family ­— just great people overall. I feel like we have something special here, even though the record doesn’t show it. At the end of the day, we’re all there for each other, and we play as one,” Marei said.

While Marei was determined, he was quick to credit Harper and Valentine. Valentine was able to push him to the limits to be the best player and person that he could be, as well as holding him accountable.

Marei’s favorite memory from being a Bronco was from last year during a cold, snowy practice. Marei remembers Harper telling the whole team to go jump in the snow, despite the cold temperatures.

After football and graduation, Marei plans to go into banking, describing himself as a “businessman.”

 “I just want to get into any department really, because I have a little experience in all three: marketing, business administration, or accounting. I feel like I’ll be a great addition to any team that picks me up in the banking region, because I know a little bit from each department,” Marei said.

Marei finished second on the team with 52 tackles, along with seven and a half tackles-for-loss and four-and-a-half sacks. He was able to garner GPAC honors this season, receiving Second Team All-Conference.