Last updated 11/24/17



Four Niceville athletes etch collegiate futures
Distance runner Alexis Sherwin, soccer goalkeeper Payton Lewis, swimmer Tatum Hackler and track and field thrower Skyler Joneson signed to further their athletic careers.

March 1, 2017

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By Josh Hyber | 315-4476 | jhyber@nwfdailynews.com

Skyler Joneson reacts after her college signing event at the school. She will attend Birmingham-Southern College.
SNYDER/DAILY NEWS

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 last.

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 School period."

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."