Mark Hoerner began bowling in the third grade, and the 18-year-old O’Fallon Township High School senior hasn’t taken a break from the game since.
“It was the only sport I played that came naturally,” said Hoerner, the son of Dave and Melanie Hoerner.
Hoerner, naturally, is an important cog in an OTHS team that expects big things this season.
“Mark will be a key player this season in the leadoff role,” said OTHS coach Mike Imes.
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The team was 10-2 last season, won the Southwestern Conference title, won the Zach LeCuyer Invitational, placed third at the IHSA State Finals, and was also third at U.S. High School Bowling National Championship in June in Smyrna, Tennessee, near Nashville.
With the help of Hoerner, this week’s O’Fallon Progress Athlete of the Week, the Panthers rolled to another title at the Zach LeCuyer Invitational, held at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville over the weekend. OTHS was 99 pins better than second-place Collinsville in the six-game tournament. Hoerner carried a 241 average for the tournament and was just two pins shy of being the individual champion. However, he did have the overall high game on the day, a 290.
“Mark worked during the off-season to be prepared for this season,” his coach said, adding that Hoerner has also implemented a prepractice routine to get the players ready for practice and drills.
“I always put in 110 percent effort to set the best example for others to follow,” Hoerner said.
Hoerner, a member of the OTHS Leadership Council, said being a good teammate is important.
“I owe a lot of my success to my teammates. They buy into everything we do, and they are always there to motivate and support me,” Hoerner said.
Communication is also important, he said.
“Being open and honest with my teammates brings a level of camaraderie that allows us to perform at our best,” he said.