Skyler Joneson reacts after
her college signing event at the school. She will attend Birmingham-Southern
NICEVILLE Just a few years ago, Niceville distance
runner Alexis Sherwin attended an Eagles' college signing ceremony
and thought to herself, "Whoa, that's never going to be me."
Just a few months ago, Niceville girls' soccer goalkeeper Payton
Lewis feared a college soccer scholarship offer would never come.
For Sherwin, that mindset, and for Lewis that predicament, didn't
On Wednesday in the Niceville High School cafeteria, Sherwin, Lewis,
Eagles' swimmer Tatum Hackler and Eagles' track and field thrower
Skyler Joneson signed to further their athletic careers at the college
level. Sherwin signed with her dream school, Air Force. Lewis signed
with the University of Mobile. Joneson signed with Birmingham-Southern,
and Hackler signed with Virginia Tech.
Lewis, who backstopped the Eagles to an elite eight appearance
this season, couldn't wipe the smile, or brown icing, off her face.
"It was a life-long dream of mine to play college soccer,"
Lewis said, standing feet from where just moments earlier she was
playfully pied in the face with a cupcake. "The University
of Mobile came out of nowhere and offered me. I'm just really excited
I get to play at the next level. I'm just proud of Niceville High
Sherwin's decision came down to Air Force and Navy (a school she
was previously dead-set on attending), but told the Daily News in
December the aspects of the Naval Academy she likes, she likes even
more at Air Force. This season, Sherwin finished 22nd at the cross
country state meet (19:01.22), second at regionals with a personal
record time of 18:48.50.
At the state track meet last season, she finished second in the
800-meter with a time of 2:14. She was also part of Niceville's
4x800 team that finished third and 4x400 team that placed eighth.
"Today was absolutely incredible," Sherwin said.
"I think that the Air Force is getting a tremendous runner
with a huge upside in Alexis," Niceville cross country head
coach Jamie LaFollette told the Daily News in December. "Having
only been running competitively for one year, I am excited to see
what kind of runner she will become at the next level."
Sherwin, who doesn't have to declared a major until her sophomore
year, said she wants to study aviation and one day fly planes.
Hackler a 12-time state medalist a gold medalist this season
in the 200-medley relay signed with the Hokies in September,
but had yet to be recognized in a ceremony at the school.
"I'm glad I got to do it," Hackler said. "I'm really
happy that it's finally my day. It kind of like seals the deal.
I'm ready to go to Virginia and see how things go."
Joneson signed with Birmingham-Southern, a school she committed
to in January. Last weekend, the senior set the school shot put
record, throwing 39'7" (12.09m). Earlier in the month she set
a personal record for distance thrown in the discus.
"I'm very excited. Excited to become a Panther," Joneson
said. "It means a lot to see all these people turned out. I
have a lot of family and friends here to support me. I'm definitely
going to miss my teammates and coaches a lot. This team has built
me to be who I am today. They got me where I am."