Athlete of the Week: Manlius Pebble Hill’s Johnny Gruninger

Athlete of the Week

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Manlius Pebble Hill senior Johnny Gruninger had a pretty busy summer. Through his performance during the Syracuse District Golf Association season he finished with the most points in the Williamson and Mitchell Cups.

The Williamson Cup is for junior players and the Mitchell cup is for players of all ages. By finishing on top the charts, Johnny became the first player to win both the SDGA Men’s player of the year award and the Junior player of the year award.

“Last year I wasn’t even in the top 10 in the points list so it kinda just all of a sudden happened,” said Gruninger. “I always knew I could do it. It feels awesome.”

“Johnny’s been a special kid for many years. He’s been competing at that level at least since the 7th grade,” said Will O’Malley, the Manlius Pebble Hill boys golf coach and boys soccer assistant coach.

Will O’Malley would know. During his time as the MPH golf coach he has seen Johnny make three state appearances as an eighth grader freshman and a sophomore. Johnny also has the schools scoring average record at 33.8.

But, it’s not just golf. Johnny also impresses his coaches in what he calls his change of pace sport, soccer.

“You never know what’s gonna happen in soccer. All the games are battles,” said Gruninger. “It’s just the last couple months have been a lot of fun.”

“He’s got a great work ethic. He’s also got a competitive spirit about him that give him an edge,” said O’Malley.

The boys are off to a 3-2 start and Johnny has one goal and two assists. Even though there are no sectionals this season, he is just happy he’s on track to finish his high school career doing what he loves.

“I know me and my fellow seniors on the soccer team are really enjoying and taking advantage of this final year,” said Gruninger. “You know, I just couldn’t imagine a senior year without playing golf honestly. Sports are the best part of high school. The experience. So it’s awesome that we’re getting back into it for sure.”

That’s what he and fellow seniors are thinking about during this year. He just wants to make the most of his senior season on the soccer field and on the golf course. Then it’s off to his future destination where he’s staying close to home.

“So I’m gonna play college golf at le moyne for four years and then I fully intend on trying to play professionally and give it a run. See what happens” said Gruninger.

MPH competes in boys golf in the spring. The spring season is scheduled to begin on April 19th.

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The Byrne Dairy and Deli NewsChannel 9 Athlete of the Week is designed to honor Section III varsity members who embody the true meaning of student-athlete.

The award recognizes more than just athletic ability, it recognizes a student-athlete who thrives in the classroom, on the athletic field and in the community.

Athletes can be nominated by a coach, athletic director or teacher. Please send your nominations to