Steady stream of Jacksonville student-athletes signing college offers continues

May 9—When mid-May pops up on the calendar it's never a question if Jacksonville High School will have any student-athletes signing with a college or university. The only question is how many have committed to continue with athletics at the collegiate level.

Thursday morning LaNajah Ticey, Landry Harmel, Mya Morales, Davy Smith and Bryan Torres became the latest student-athletes at Jacksonville to sign national letters. to continue playing their respective sport at the collegiate level.

Before a large group of students, district personnel and proud family members, the quintet finalized their paperwork during the spring signing ceremony that took place inside the Upper Gymnasium on the high school campus.

Ticey, a Class 4A regional finalist in the 400 meters, signed with Southeastern Oklahoma State University (NCAA, Division II, Great American Conference).

Ticey said Southeastern Oklahoma, located in Durant, Okla., checked all the boxes on her list.

"The school is only three hours from home and the campus is not too big," she said. "I will be a part of a good team that will support me and (Southeastern offered the major (nursing) that I was interested in."

Harmel and Morales have been a part of a Maiden soccer team that has won four-consecutive and undefeated district championships; hence they will be bringing winning attitudes with them when they suit up for East Texas Baptist University (NCAA, Division III) and Angelina College (NJCAA, Division I) in the late summer.

"We didn't lose a district game from our freshman on through (the) senior year," Harmel said. "I don't think I would be where I am today if it were not for that fact. There is a lot of con confidence that comes with that."

Harmel, a defender, who plans on majoring in psychology at ETBU, said she gave substantial consideration to choosing a college that was right for her scholastically, as well as athletically.

"I had lots of options, but (ETBU) fit me better academically and athletically," Harmel said. "There are a lot of benefits for me in that."

After suffering two significant knee injuries during her high school playing days, it would have been easy for Morales to forget about her long-time goal of one day playing college soccer.

"Playing soccer in college has always been in the back of mind, even with the injuries," she said. "My injuries taught me to never give up on that dream and today that has paid off.

"Hopefully, I can inspire others to never give up on their dream."

Morales plans on majoring in radiology.

Jacksonville head boy's soccer coach Rudy Jaramillo said that Jacksonville College (NJCAA, Division I) is getting a pair of young men — Smith and Torres — who had tremendous success on the pitch during their high school careers.

"During their time, we never lost a home match, we won three district championships and hosted (and won) three playoff games," he said. "These two guys were a big part of that. I am glad they chose Jacksonville College and I look forward to being able to see them play."

Smith and Torres both said they were pleased to have a chance to keep playing the game that they love.

"I am excited, and a little bit nervous, to see what the future holds for me at Jacksonville College," Smith said. "I have always told myself that if I ever had the chance to play college soccer, I was going to take it."

Torres said that he was looking forward to the future and that he is hoping to play center back for the hometown Jaguars.