Jamilla Janneh and Madisen Slagle leaned on each other, giggled and sported wide perma-smiles as they sifted through a stockpile of NCAA paperwork together.

With their families and New Oxford High track and field coach Jason Warner looking on, the seniors provided their signatures -- Janneh to NCAA Division I's Temple University and Slagle to Mansfield University -- and slapped hands.

The wait is over. Both athletes are officially NCAA signees. Over the years, the relationship between the two has tightened. The tandem has formed a personality and identity that the Colonial track program is able to feed off.

Both athletes are so close that they often discussed the prospects of competing at the same college.

"We always joked that we would (be college teammates), but there's going to be a lot of visits on both sides," Slagle said. "At least once a week, if that's possible. When we were walking in here, Jamilla said she was nervous. It's a relief for it to finally be over. I guess it's just nice to know that we have somewhere to go to continue our careers before the season kicks off." Prior to the 6 p.m. signing in the athletic lobby of New Oxford High School, both athletes chowed down on some cookie sandwiches at the nearby 7-Eleven.

"It's a little tradition of ours," said Slagle, adding they would never do it before practice or a meet.

Janneh and Slagle have been teammates since seventh grade and in the middle school program.


They've grown and prospered at their respective events. At the same time, they've discovered an innate passion for the sport that has grown, grown and grown.

To realize this dream of competing at the higher echelon, both athletes knew a titanic workout regimen was essential. Both have been instrumental toward each other's development. They hit the weight room. They work on plyometrics. They bust out sprints and labor through long stretching routines.

Along with Kaylee Kubisiak, who signed with Bridgewater College on Wednesday, Janneh and Slagle have evolved into the faces of the Colonial track program.

"The kids we have, with these two and Kaylee, I mean you couldn't ask for a better group," Colonials head coach Jason Warner said. "Their work ethic in practice is everything you could ask for as a coach. They do the work, they lead by example, and I've never heard one word of complaint out of them. It speaks volumes about what type of people they are. It's nice to see, from the time they've come in as freshman, how much they've grown as athletes and as people."

Warner was a sprinter at Susquehanna University. He was active in each athlete's recruitment.

Janneh, a standout in the high, long and triple jumps, chose Temple because of its proximity and her memorable experience with the team during her campus visit last fall. Janneh roomed with sophomore sprinter and triple jumper Brianna Alvarez, who helped her get acclimated to the college life. Janneh knew before she left the Philadelphia campus that she'd found a glove-fit with the Owls.

"I just loved everything about the school," said Janneh. "It was actually an easy decision to make overall. It's nice to finally get it over with. For my senior year in track, I'm just looking forward to capitalizing on my records again.

Slagle has surfaced as one of the area's elite in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles.

New Oxford athletes Madisen Slagle, left, and Jamilla Janneh, share a laugh after Thursday’s signing at New Oxford High School.
New Oxford athletes Madisen Slagle, left, and Jamilla Janneh, share a laugh after Thursday's signing at New Oxford High School. (THE EVENING SUN -- CLARE BECKER)

Slagle's relationship with Mansfield first-year head coach Nadine Faustine-Parker, a three-time Olympian in the 100-meter hurdles, helped her finalize her decision.

Faustine-Parker spent four years as an assistant at the University of North Carolina, her alma mater. Faustine-Parker worked primarily with the men's and women's hurdlers. After competing in the world championships while representing her native Haiti in 1991, 2001, 2003 and 2005, Faustine-Parker was inducted into the UNC Track and Field Hall of Honor in 2007.

"It's pretty impressive," Slagle said. "I'm excited for the opportunity."