5 Eastside Rams sign college scholarships

(From left) Eastside's Arielle Livingston, Kennith Martin, Jamo Williams, Precious Marshall and Frank Mercado signed to play at the college level on Wednesday.
(From left) Eastside's Arielle Livingston, Kennith Martin, Jamo Williams, Precious Marshall and Frank Mercado signed to play at the college level on Wednesday.
Photo by Mike Ridaught

Five Eastside athletes in three different sports got a chance to continue their academic and athletic careers by signing their National Letter of Intent (NLI) on Wednesday afternoon.

Precious Marshall signed to play basketball with Carl Sandburg College, a community college in Galesburg, Illinois.

“It feels amazing,” said Marshall, who played her senior year with a torn ACL. “I knew I had it in me ever since I picked up a basketball. I’m just happy to play at the next level, going to school for free, so it’s a big achievement and I thank everyone that pushed me this far, my coaches, my teammates, and I will continue to push them before I go off.”

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Marshall, who also personally thanked her mom for being with her “every step of the way,” helped lead the Lady Rams (15-9) to the Class 4A-District 5 title and a state playoff appearance in her senior season.

She averaged 10 rebounds, eight points, five assists, three steals and two blocks per game this past season and was named to the 2024 Mainstreet All Area big school girls basketball team.

Eastside's Precious Marshall takes a shot against Buchholz's Jamison Cardwell.
Photo by C.J. Gish Eastside’s Precious Marshall (21) signed to play college basketball with Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois.

“Even with obstacles Precious Marshall gave us an outstanding performance this year,” said Eastside girls basketball coach LonnaTurner said. “Marshall has displayed leadership not only through our guards but as well as a post player. She is an all-around team player. She also excelled in the classroom maintaining an above average GPA. I can count on Precious to be my multi-talented player.”

Frank Mercado gave Eastside its first college signee in baseball in a long time.

“I don’t think anyone was born the last time we had a baseball player sign,” Eastside Athletics Director Derek Gonsoulin said during the ceremony.

Mercado is getting “a full ride” to Bryant & Stratton College’s Virginia Beach (VA) campus.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I just tried to do the best for me and my future. I want to be an MLB player. I know it’s a long way to be there but I’m pretty sure I can do it.”

His journey from Venezuela has taken him from Miami to Detroit, then Cincinnati and ending with Eastside his junior and senior seasons.

“That gives me a lot of experience playing baseball, knowing the country,” he said. “I love the people here. I love all my coaches, all of my teammates.”

Mercado said that there are a lot of Latin players at his new destination, which will help him be more comfortable.

He played part of his junior season with the Rams.

In his first game last March against St. Francis Catholic Academy, he hit two home runs.

Arielle Livingston signed a scholarship to compete in track at Chicago State University.

“They’ve got a good track team, they are D-I, and they’re pretty far away,” she said. “They were able to give me a full ride for my sport.”

At the FHSAA Class 2A-Region 2 meet, Livingston qualified for the state meet in both the 100-meter hurdles, with a fourth-place finish (14.40 seconds) and a fifth-place finish in the 400 hurdles (1 minute, 6.19 seconds).

On Thursday at the Class 2A state championships in Jacksonville, Livingston had a pair of top-10 finishes, including a top-five finish.

She was fourth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.38, a new PR, and sixth in the 400 hurdles (1:02.95).

“I went from running like 20s in the 100m hurdles to 14 flat,” said Livingston, who also competed in volleyball at Eastside. “I just kept training.”

Jamo Williams will compete at the next level after inking with Division-II Eastern New Mexico.

“It’s just something that is new to me,” he said. “I’m a guy that likes to venture. It’s a new place out of Florida. My parents always told me ‘there’s more in the world than just Florida. Just go out and see everything,’ so it was a good fit.”

Williams had a pair of top-five finishes at the region meet.

Eastside's Kennith Martin signed on Wednesday to run track at Florida A&M University.
Courtesy of Derek Gonsoulin Eastside’s Kennith Martin signed on Wednesday to run track at Florida A&M University.

He was fifth in the 100-meter dash (10.96) and fourth in the 200 (22.22) to earn a spot at the state meet.

“I have been through some trials and tribulations quite a bit at Eastside,” said Williams, who also played football for the Rams. “My junior year I did not participate in track and field because of injuries but then I came back strong this year and made it my best year.”

On Thursday, he finished 12th at the state meet in the 100 (11.19) and he cracked the top 10 with a No. 10 placement in the 200.

Kennith Martin will run track for Division-I Florida A&M University.

“It’s truly a blessing,” he said. “I’ve been growing up wanting to always go run at the next level, so it’s like a dream come true.”

FAMU showed interest following his performance at the Florida Relays.

At the regional meet, Martin won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.42 [seconds] and also won the 200-meter dash with a season-best time of 20.94.

He followed that up with a state title on Thursday in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.57.

Martin, who was unable to make it to state his junior year due to a hip injury prior to the district meet, said “staying focused, staying in my lane, and executing what I’ve been practicing all year,” were the key to his success.

Martin just missed a state title in the 200-meter dash (20.99), finishing second behind Florida High’s (Tallahassee) Micahi Danzy (20.88).

“This year I was able to have a really good season, no injuries, and perform the best that I can,” he said.

Martin and Williams were also a part of the 4×400 relay team, which finished second (3:26.55) behind Montverde Academy (3:16.04) at the regional meet, and they finished sixth at the state meet (3:22.38).

As a team, the Eastside boys finished sixth in at the state meet with a total of 32 points just behind No. 5 Andrew Jackson of Jacksonville (35).

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