SANTA ROSA BEACH — Tanner Martin was uncertain this day would ever come.


The work it takes to earn a scholarship, be it athletic or otherwise, is a mission not easily undertaken. But that only serves to make accomplishing that goal all the sweeter, as the South Walton senior track star found out this past Thursday when he signed with Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida, alongside fellow future Warriors and current teammates Gavin Morris and Tyo Smith.


“I’d say it was a really good thing,” Martin said. “I’m very excited to go to Webber International, for sure. It’s something I never really thought would happen, but I’m very glad I’m blessed to have something like this go on. It was a long road, man.”


The path was tumultuous, Martin said, because he struggled with his commitment.


“It’s hard, man,” he said. “It takes a lot to really get to what you’re focused on ’cause you always run through little bumps in the road. For a while, I thought I was gonna quit, but luckily I didn’t quit and sure enough God presented me this opportunity.”


Thanks in part to South Walton coach Willie Parker, the Warriors reached out to Martin in mid March to gauge his interest.


“I think they contacted me, and they were like ‘Hey, I think you’d be a good fit at our school,’” Martin said. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, absolutely. I’ll look into that for sure.’ It turns out it was somewhere I definitely wanted to go.”


Without the ability to visit the campus and facilities, Martin had to rely on his friends. He said he had several who attend Webber, and they sent him pictures and testimonials.


Additionally, Martin said he felt like the staff on Webber’s track and cross-country teams can help him better himself athletically and academically.


“I liked their campus and their coach,” he said. “Their coach is really nice. He’s a cool dude; I feel like I can definitely get somewhere with him.”


Interested in pursuing a degree in sports management, Martin also said the opportunity to continue running alongside Smith and Morris was icing on the cake.


Although Martin’s track and field career was cut short this spring, he won the Region 1-2A pole vaulting championship this past spring in Jacksonville, clearing 4.35 meters, and placed sixth at the Class 2A state meet a week later.


He, Morris, Brandon Phillips and Chadwick Williams also teamed up for a third-place finish 4x400-meter relay at the Region 1-2A meet, finishing in 3 minutes, 23.33 seconds, and he teamed up with Smith, Tyler Mitchum and Richard Scott for a fifth-place finish in 4x100-meter relay, finishing in 43.86 seconds.


But those marks are just the beginning, Martin said.


“My main goal is really to get better every year,” he said.