ALBANY – Darton State College sophomores Alexis Skiles and Jaishell Thomas signed full-scholarships to Life University, Friday, where they will continue careers as cross-country and track student-athletes in the fall.
The duo were important components of Darton’s cross country legacy, and both were 1st Team All Region 17 in 2013 as Darton won its sixth consecutive Region 17 Championship. They plan to be roommates as they enter the young Life University, NAIA running program.
“I’m just real excited,” said Life University coach Dr. Catherine Faust. “They’re two very talented young ladies with solid training backgrounds. Their coach has prepared them well.”
It’s something that Darton head cross country coach Bruce Skiles has been working on for a long time with Alexis, his youngest of three children, all of whom ran at Darton and led the Cavaliers to a total of five Region 17 Championship titles. She is the last of the trio to go through the Darton program and, like the rest of the Skiles gang, will transfer with a full athletic scholarship.
“I guess that’s good,” Coach Skiles said. “They all got to move on. Life moves on.”
Alexis plans to study Cardiopulmonary Diagnostic Rehabilitation at Life University. When asked what she will miss the most about Darton, Alexis said her friends, the fellow student-athletes, and her father’s coaching.
“I’m going to miss him yelling at me,” Alexis said. “He never let me slack off. That’s for sure.”
Thomas, who came to Darton from Warner Robbins, also said she would miss Coach Skiles.
“He told me when he recruited me in high school, ‘I guarantee if you listen to me, do what I ask, you will leave Darton with a scholarship’,” she said. “He kept his word, and I am really grateful for that.”
Thomas received athletic and academic aid, and plans to study physical therapy at Life.
“She’s consistent, very coachable and she’s a great kid,” Coach Skiles said. “You hate losing athletes like her. She’s a solid runner.”
Thomas said Darton was the right choice for her as she began her
“It helped me grow as a person,” she said. “It helped me open up and grow mentally. I really wanted to make sure I did well here. The atmosphere motived me.”
Alexis said one of the best things about the Darton program was running against tough competition, which helped her, Thomas and other Darton athletes get noticed and get faster.
“Dad always takes us to 4-year schools to race,” she said. “It makes us better athletes. We compete with tough competition.”
Pictured: L to R: Life University head women’s cross country coach Catherine Faust, Darton sophomores Jaichelle Thomas and Alexis Skiles, Darton head cross country coach Bruce Skiles.