Last updated 2/12/19



Niceville quintet etches future
Feb 7, 2019
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By SETH STRINGER

NICEVILLE — In many ways, the Niceville quintet has already proven themselves.

Chloe Hill is the face of Niceville’s throwing program, a record holder in the discus and shot put.

Max Warnecke, sometimes referred to as “Sunshine” or “Pony” or “Baby Thor” due to his 6-foot-6 frame and long blond locks, is a two-time district long jump champion.
Midfielder Brayden Thomas has the unbeaten Eagles’ soccer team in state title contention, Friday’s Sweet 16 trip to Tallahassee the next step in their bid.
Meanwhile keeper Anthony Morales and center-back Travis Sherwin have the Sweet-16 bound Eagles ranked second in the state and 10th in the country.
Yet, if you talk to them, their best days are ahead. Both in their prep swan songs and, etched Wednesday in Niceville High’s auditorium, in their college stops.

Hill is bound for UCF, where she “fell in love with the campus, the people and the coaches.”

Warnecke is bound for Troy University, a home that will allow him “to be the best I can possibly be.”
Thomas is bound for, appropriately enough, Thomas University in Georgia, “a dream come true” in her eyes.
Morales is bound for Evangel University in Missouri, a “huge weight off his shoulders.”
Sherwin is bound for South Dakota School of Mines and Tech, where he’ll join big bro Brenden.

For Hill, she’s looking to reach 20 feet in the long jump and build on her discus and shot put records in her swan song.
“The goal is to place high at state in every event,” she said.
Not putting that past her is Niceville Principal Charlie Marello, who led off the signing ceremony with an anecdote about witnessing Hill practicing on New Year’s Day.
“Chloe has that dedication and drive, and that’s what it takes to reach the next level,” Marello said.
The work ethic also drew interest from Auburn and Robert Morris, but UCF was the whole package. That includes its Biomedical Sciences program.
“Once I visited I just knew this was home,” said Hill, who’s looking to contribute right out of the gates.


For Warnecke, who became choked up when talking about his mom working three jobs and making sacrifices so he could pursue his dreams, he’s looking to defend his long jump district title while setting a couple of Niceville records.
“I want to have the javelin school record and the long jump record,” Warnecke said. “I should break the javelin my first meet and the long jump should follow soon after.”
His path to the long jump, though, was a bit circuitous.
“The long jump coach came up to me one day when I was lifting and told me I should come out and try the long jump,” he said. “My first jump I beat everyone on the team, so the next step was to win districts and that’s what I did.”
His goals for his swan song?
“I want to place at state in at least three events,” he said.
And at Troy?
“To be the best I can possibly be,” said Warnecke, who will major in Biomechanical Engineering. “I want to go there and prove myself. I want to be the best on the team.”
For Thomas, she’ll join a Sun Conference program that went 7-7-2 last year.“It’s exactly what I’ve been wanting for forever,” she said. “I think my future teammates and coaches are amazing and I’m excited to be a part of the team and finish off my career there.”
With the Night Hawks she hopes to shine at center-mid, but first there’s work left to do at Niceville. The Eagles travel to Leon Friday night looking for a fourth straight regional final berth, which they’d host Tuesday.
“We want to make it all the way just like our freshman year, only this time we want to finish it off,” said Thomas, who Niceville coach Michael Denton called “resilient” for persevering through so many nagging injures.
Going all the way is also the end goal for Sherwin and Morales, who have helped the Eagles post 16 clean sheets en route to a 24-1-2 mark entering Saturday’s lauded matchup between the state’s top-two ranked team.
“I want to get the fullest out of the season,” Sherwin said. “I want to get to Leon and I want to beat them. I don’t know what all the hype is about. I haven’t seen them yet, but I think we can beat them. If we beat Leon, I think we have a good shot at state.”
Added Morales, “Leon will be a huge test for us, but we’re just taking it game by game. We know if we play our best we’ll put ourselves in a position to win.”
For Morales, in Evangel he saw a tight-nit environment that could foster both his professional and athletic dreams.
“I’ve always wanted to play college soccer since I was little and I had a couple of schools offer me, but I felt this was the best fit personally for me,” he said. “The school is small, small classes, and they have my major which is biology. The fact that I can continue to play soccer and pursue my dreams is the perfect scenario.”
The same goes for Sherwin, who will follow his brother’s path to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
“The goal there is one, education,” Sherwin said. “I want to be a mechanical engineer, so I hope to g
raduate there as a mechanical engineer and get a good job. I get to play soccer, too, and better yet with my brother so it’ll be a lot of fun.”