Mercy Sports Medicine Names Athletes of the Month (2023-2024 school year)

March 8, 2024

Athletic trainers with Mercy Sports Medicine are embedded inside many St. Louis metro area high schools and get to know the athletes throughout the year. As a way of highlighting outstanding students from these schools each month, a new Mercy Sports Medicine Athlete of the Month will be recognized. Athletes are nominated by coaches and selected by a committee.

Here are the Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month for the 2023-2024 school year.

May 2024

Delaney Brinker, a junior track athlete at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, holds herself to high standards of sportsmanship and character in all that she does, earning the school’s Outstanding Character Award three times. She gives back by organizing a Special Olympics Track and Field program and helping instruct local elementary students in track and field for their school fundraiser.

On the field, she is ranked in the top 15 nationally for the 400-meter dash for the class of 2024. She also runs the 200-meter, 800-meter and is the anchor leg of the school’s state leading relays. She helped set state records with first place finishes in the 4x200 and 4x400 meter relays.

Coaches say Brinker exhibits humility in victory, treating opponents, teammates, coaches and officials with respect and dignity. Her integrity, focus and work ethic serve as a model for others to emulate. The attention to detail she has with taking care of her body is unmatched when it comes to warming up, cooling down, proper nutrition and recovery.

Jack Dunard, a senior baseball and basketball athlete at St. Francis Borgia High School, leads by example in athletics and the classroom, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and representing the class as valedictorian. He puts in extra work on his own and is a positive influence on his teammates.

He scored 55 points off the bench over the course of his senior basketball season while shooting 37% from the three-point line. He has 13 RBIs in his senior baseball season and hit his first career homerun in the district semifinal game. Dunard plays a utility role, playing all over the field depending on the game. Outside of sports, he participated in many Christian service opportunities and school clubs including the Trap Shooting team. 

dunard-brinkers-mercy-sports-medicine-athlete-month-may-2024 Jack Dunard and Delaney Brinker - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - May 2024 (submitted photos)

April 2024

Josie Portell, a senior basketball player and track and field athlete at Parkway South High School, works hard in and out of the classroom. She is among the top finishers in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races and is the only para-athlete in the area. She competes each week with varsity alongside some of the fastest girls in the state and will compete in a para-athlete track meet for state finals. She also works hard in the classroom, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Nathaniel (Peanut) Knaff, a senior, three-sport athlete at Pacific High School, plays football, runs track and wrestles. He is supportive of his teammates by coaching them in sport and giving life advice. Coaches say he is great presence on any team and a great competitor. During track, he broke his own school record in javelin with a throw of 48.89 meters and placed first at the Henle Homes Track Meet and has placed first in shot put at meets throughout the season. In wrestling, he finished sixth in state for the 285-weight class, Four Rivers Conference champion, two-time district finalist and four-time state qualifier and surpassed 100 career wins. In football, he was earned many awards for both defensive and offensive line and helped the team win the Class 4 District title with a block on a point after touchdown for the win of 21-20. He has committed to play football at Quincy University. 

portell-knaff-mercy-sports-med-athletes-month-april-2024 Josie Portell and Nathaniel (Peanut) Knaff - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - April 2024 (submitted photos)

March 2024

Kaitlin Payne, a junior volleyball and soccer player at Pacific High School, is a leader on and off the field. In soccer, she is a defender and captain of the team. In volleyball, coaches say she is a big voice on the back line and was previously named a defender of the year in the Four Rivers area. Payne was also a conference champion with the girls’ volleyball team and volunteers as a coach for youth volleyball. She is member of the student council and overall great student athlete.

Aidan Workman, a sophomore water polo player at Parkway North High School, was recognized for his sportsmanship with his team and those he plays against. Coaches say he is always willing to give positive feedback to help others learn the sport and will pass up a shot during a game because he sees a teammate who may have a better one. He’s usually one of the first athletes on the team to congratulate the opponents on a good game, win or lose.

payne-workman-march-2024-sports-med-athletes-month Kaitlin Payne and Aidan Workman - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - March 2024 (submitted photos)

February 2024

Mary Bezzant, a senior swimmer at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, is a three-time Missouri state champion in Class 1 swimming, winning the 100-meter breaststroke in 2023 and 2024 and the 200-meter individual medley in 2022. She lead her team to two Elite Eight finishes in 2023 and 2024, and has earned several silver and bronze state medals throughout high school. She is a two-time Suburban Red Conference Swimmer of the Year and signed with BYU for swimming. 

Henry (Hank) Mohrmann, a senior three-sport (football, basketball and volleyball) athlete at Parkway North High School, is an all-around student athlete. He maintains a 3.9 GPA and approaches all he does with energy and enthusiasm. While he plans to play collegiate football, his basketball coach said he is the team’s hardest workers and best defenders matched up against the opponents’ best player each game. 

bezzant-mohrmann-mercy-sports-med-athletes-month-feb-2024 Mary Bezzant and Henry (Hank) Mohrmann - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - February 2024 (submitted photos)

January 2024

Ava McCulla, a junior basketball player at Parkway South High School, reached 1,000 career points in January and is on pace to be the school’s leading point scorer and rebounder. She volunteers for the school’s feeder program, working with younger players in the program. McCulla is team captain and a great example to her teammates of what a student-athlete should aspire to be maintaining a 4.5 GPA with aspirations to become an architect.

Eddie Ahearn, a senior three-sport athlete at Parkway South High School, is leaving a legacy by setting a new school record in basketball as the all-time rebound leader, a record previously held in a tie from 2010 and 1986. This season, he averages 6.3 rebounds and 12.2 points per game. With a career total of 860 points, he has a shot at reaching 1,000 before the season ends. He was the starting quarterback for the school’s football team the last three seasons and plays baseball (pitcher and catcher) leading the team in home runs doubles and RBIs. Last season, he was named Suburban Red Conference Pitcher of the Year

mcculla-ahearn-parkway-south-jan-2024-mercy-sports-med-athlete-month Ava McCulla and Eddie Ahearn - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - January 2024 (submitted photos).

December 2023

Amariyah Dabney, a senior wrestler at Marquette High School, is a team player who focuses on positivity and encourages others to bring their best on the mat and in life. As a senior, she was elected team captain by her teammates. She qualified for state as a sophomore, in only her second year wrestling, which helped give her the drive to be her best since. When not on the wrestling mat, Dabney helps at home and in her community. She maintains a job at a local coffee shop and with her family’s health care company, and still finds time to build connections with the elderly through volunteering with GlamourGals Foundation.

Jaren Jackson, a senior wrestler at De Smet Jesuit High School, is a leader on and off the wrestling mat. He’s a hard worker who is the first to arrive and last to leave practice, leading by example. At the time of submission, Jackson was 30-2 for the season, the Lee Summit champion for his weight class and projected to place as a state finalist. He leads the school’s Black Student Union, serves as a big brother to freshmen and welcomes prospective families as a President’s Ambassador. He recently received the school’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Model of Justice Award, presented by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which honors his commitment to serving humanity in the broader community.

mercy-sports-med-athlete-month-dec-2023-dabney-jackson Amariyah Dabney and Jaren Jackson - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - December 2023 (submitted photos)

November 2023

Clara Nowak, a sophomore softball and basketball player at Saint Francis Borgia High School, is a leader on and off the field. During her softball season she led her team to a second-place finish in Missouri Class 3 play. She batted .489 with 16 doubles, two triples and six home runs, with 31 RBIs and 36 runs on the season. While she suffered an injury during the district title game, she played through the rest of the playoffs. Coaches say she’s a great teammate and always willing to help others at practice. 

Sam Villa, a senior soccer player for Christian Brothers College High School, provides leadership for the school in athletics and other activities. As a four-year starter and two-year captain for the varsity soccer team, he gives younger teammates someone to look up to and leads by example. He offers praise to support his teammates and is the first to help a player up, whether a teammate or opponent. He volunteers with SPENSA (special needs soccer association), maintains a heavy workload with 4.5 GPA and is president of the Student Leadership Council and was recently nominated for the Outstanding Student Leadership Program.

nowak-villa-mercy-sports-medicine-month-nov-2023 Clara Nowak and Sam Villa - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - November 2023 (submitted photos)

October 2023

Caroline Tomlinson, a junior at Pacific High School, is one of the top players on the volleyball team. She was named Player of the Year for the Four Rivers conference and first team all-district for the South Central. She is constantly pushing herself and everyone around her to be their best. Along with her athletic accomplishments, Tomlinson excels in her academics and is part of the student council, leadership team and A+ mentor program.

Will Poelker, a junior cross-country runner at De Smet Jesuit High School, is a leader on and off the field and led his team as the top DeSmet runner in each of his meets this season. He’s been a four-sport athlete since his freshman year and earned five varsity letters, all state, first team all-district and two first team all-conference honors. He led the Spartans to state finals where they finished seventh and he was awarded all-state honors. Poelker is involved in National Chinese Honor Society, National Honor Society, Presidents’ Ambassadors and multiple other clubs. He serves as yearbook managing editor, vice president of the Asia Club and president of the Winter Running Club.  

tomlinson-poelker-mercy-sports-med-athletes-month-october-2023 Caroline Tomlinson and Will Poelker - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - October 2023 (submitted photos)

September 2023

Yvonne Shannon and Emily Koo, Parkway North High School senior tennis players, were nominated and recognized as a pair keep in stride with their success playing doubles over the last three years. Together they have set numerous school records, including a record of 61-5 during their high school career, breaking a 25-year school record. The pair finished 23-2 his year and won the District Doubles Championship in the state’s most difficult district. Beyond the tennis court, both are recognized as great young women, leaders and well-liked and respected by their teammates and opponents. They are involved in multiple school clubs and their sportsmanship has been singled out by opposing coaches.

Messiah Smith is a Parkway North High School junior football player who stepped out of his comfort zone of running back and into the quarterback position. Without any actual game experience, Smith took control and helped bring the team to a 5-1 record (as of nomination). In his first three weeks in the position, Smith threw for more than 300 yards and rushed for over 500 yards. 

mercy-sports-medicine-athltes-month-Sept2023-yvonne-koo-smith-PNHS Yvonne Shannon and Emily Koo and Messiah Smith - Mercy Sports Medicine Athletes of the Month - September 2023 (submitted photos)