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SEHS holds spring signing day for 15 athletes
SEHS College Signees
South Effingham High School held a celebration May 22 for 15 athletes who signed college offers for next year. The signees are front row, from left: Grady Smith, Enrique Santana, Peighton Capwell, Kay'Mar Griffin, Riley Browne, Jamari Fields and Zane Bell. Back row, from left: Chase Hoffman, Jaden Sanders, Isaiah Campbell, Jah'tavion Weickerson, Gage Flowers, Avery Sikes, Matthew Moore and Maddox Shiell. (Donald Heath/For the Effingham Herald)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – Goodbyes and hugs accompanied excitement and anticipation for 15 South Effingham college signees on May 22. One journey ended for them, another will begin in the fall.

"It's a great day to be a Mustang. You always have a home here," said SEHS' Justin Merritt, who takes on new challenges as well as the school's new athletic director.

Merritt acted as the master of ceremonies for South's spring signing day – a day when friends, family, teammates and well-wishers could celebrate the college-bound athletes as a group.

Athletes re-lived their final high school moments on a couple of new stages – a signing table with their names and new schools electronically scrolling below. A podium with an intimidating microphone magnified last words.

One by one, a parade of grateful athletes gave thanks – golfer Gage Flowers (headed to Alabama A&M), wrestler Enrique Santana (Life University), track high jumper Riley Browne (Georgia Southern), track sprinter Isaiah Campbell (South Carolina State), cross country runner Zane Bell (Columbus State), softball outfielder Peighton Capwell (Abraham Baldwin), soccer players Grady Smith and Chase Hoffman (International Soccer Academy Leeds Beckett in England), girls basketball guard Kay'Mar Griffin (South Carolina-Beaufort), baseball pitchers Avery Sikes (South Carolina-Beaufort) and Maddox Shiell (Abraham Baldwin), football running back and track sprinter Jamari Fields (Wingate) and football players Matthew Moore, Jaden Sanders and Jah'Tavion Weickerson (all headed to LaGrange).

"To say I'm living the dream of little me is an understatement," Capwell said.

Coaches introduced their players and most shared behind-the-scenes stories.

Boys soccer coach DaKota Paradice talked about Hoffman's motivational moments.

"This year we appreciated (Chase) toning down his halftime speeches which, quite frankly, scared all of us," Paradice said.

It was an afternoon when laughs and sighs mingled as partners.

Friends and family took extra photos for lasting memories. Cookies and cake fed the masses.

It's been a good year at South Effingham. Santana's wrestling team won a state championship – the school's first team state championship.

"(Enrique) was a leader. If it weren't for him, I don't know if we could have pulled it off," Mustangs coach Christopher Bringer said.

Other sports didn't win state title but their athletes played significant roles making a universal "thank you" from coaches to players and players back to coaches appropriate on this day.  

Some athletes prepared "thank you" speeches.

But Griffin knew she could wing it like a fastbreak layup.

"At the end of the day, you all are family. Thank you for the support," she said.