Spencer wrestler Elijah McNickels accomplished a lot in his senior season, and on Thursday, he capped off the year appropriately.
McNickels was one of four Spencer athletes to participate in a signing ceremony at the high school. McNickels signed his letter of intent to wrestle at Life University in Marietta.
McNickels was joined by Ladaisha Williams -- who signed to run track and cross country at Breneau University -- as well as Malik Albritton and Damonte Waits, who signed to play soccer at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga.
Spencer wrestling coach Robert Sanders lauded McNickels’ work ever since he missed the state tournament his sophomore year, saying since that time McNickels probably only took two weeks off from wrestling. McNickels, who won a state championship as a senior, said the signing festivities stood out among the rest of his achievements this year.
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“It’s really the best feeling I’ve ever had,” McNickels said. “To get all the support and have my whole support system here, it’s amazing.”
McNickels said going to Life was an easy decision. The school had his intended major, athletic training, along with several familiar faces on the roster. Former Spencer wrestler Yakariel Judah goes to the school, and another Greenwave alum, Jarvis Abrams, is in the process of transferring there.
“It was the most logical decision,” McNickels said. “They had my major, and they had family.”
Williams was a do-it-all athlete in her time at Spencer, participating in a number of events for the track team as well as playing two other sports. She said she had been waiting for her signing day to arrive since her freshman year.
Williams plans to run the 400 and 800 meters at Brenau in addition to being on the cross country team. She said the coaches at the college were excited to have her, which helped in her decision.
“I can’t wait to start a new journey in life,” Williams said. “I just want to get on the track, honestly, and meet the team.”
Albritton and Waits have the benefit of sticking together as they go to college. The occasion of signing was especially important to Albritton, who dealt with a right hip injury in middle school and subsequently could not play his freshman or sophomore seasons of high school.
“I never thought I was going to sign to any school, actually,” Albritton said. “I pulled through, did what I had to do, and now I’m here.”
The chance to stick with Waits and go to the next level together is not one Albritton takes for granted.
“It’s going to mean a lot, just to have somebody that I know how they play,” Albritton said. “To play with him again for another four years, it’s going to be great. Not only is he my teammate, but he’s one of my closest friends.”
Waits credited the work of the Spencer coaches in preparing him for collegiate play.
“They pushed me to go for forward,” Waits said. “When I did wrong, they’d tell me how I could improve. They saw potential in me where I could step up to the next level.”
Waits said he was happy for the other three Spencer seniors who signed alongside him. All four now have the chance to demonstrate their athletic ability in college, a task Waits believes they are well prepared for.
“(The signing) shows we have a good generation and we can move on to the next level,” Waits said. “I hope the next generation can help us out.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports