Maintaining a level of excellence in high school sports is sometimes dependent on a consistent influx of young talent to augment the veteran presence held over from previous campaigns. In recent years, the OTHS tennis and cross country programs have benefited the most from young, talented athletes entering the interscholastic sports scene for the Panthers. This week’s top athlete is an example of this freshmen pipeline — tennis player Miley Brunner.
Working her way into the starting line-up at the start of the season, the OTHS ninth-grader, the daughter of Cari Brunner, has made an impact on the court, aiding the Lady Panthers to another highly successful season.
Evidence of Brunner’s impact was clear this past weekend as her effort was instrumental in O’Fallon’s third-place finish in the prestigious Bloomington Gold Invitational. Playing at number four singles, the O’Fallon freshman blasted her way through the preliminary rounds and finished with a flourish to emerge with a perfect 4-0 record and the tourney championship medal in her division. Brunner was the only OTHS player to secure an individual title and joined the Panther doubles tandem of Mackenzie Shelton and Katie Halwachs as title winners.
Brunner’s tennis acumen as a freshman has not suddenly materialized as she has, at the age of 14, already spent years on the court.
“I began playing tennis when I was very young because my grandparents own the St. Clair Tennis Club,” Brunner said. “So tennis kind of runs in my family. My grandparents and my parents are the main contributors to my success.”
“I play tennis because it’s a really good time,” she said. “And O’Fallon has a fantastic program, which makes playing even more fun. Participating in athletics has influenced my approach to things because it always pushes me to get good grades so that I can participate and keep having loads of fun.”