Luke Mann hasn’t had a lot of time to reflect on his four years at St. John Vianney High School, even though he’s only a few days away from beginning his summer classes at the University of Missouri and moving on to the next chapter of his life.
Mann’s senior year at Vianney was extended several weeks as he and his teammates pieced together a long playoff run that culminated with the school’s third baseball state championship.
But there were moments along the way over his final few weeks as a senior that made him think about his four-year journey at Vianney.
“Going to the Mother-Son Mass or Baccalaureate or things like that, while I was sitting in church with all my friends it kind of soaked in,” Mann said, “this could be the last time I see a bunch of these guys and I just kind of realized the moment and realized the time I had left and really appreciated all the people I’ve been with for the past four years. There’s no better way I wanted to end those four years than lifting that trophy over my head with the baseball team.”
Mann capped off his Vianney career with one of the more remarkable seasons a high school player can have.
The pitcher/first baseman led the Griffins with his .513 batting average, 60 hits, 12 home runs and 61 RBIs. The left-handed hitting slugger established new single-season school records in hits, home runs, RBIs, total bases (114) and extra-base hits (28).
On the mound the hard-throwing right-hander went 10-0 with a 1.09 earned-run average and 102 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.
He was named the player of the year and pitcher of the year in the Metro Catholic Conference, a feat Griffins coach Scott Brown said had not happened before. Mann’s other accolades included being named the Post-Dispatch player of the year, winning the Rising Star Award as the area’s top senior, being named the Gatorade Missouri player of the year as well as a second-team All-American by USA Today.
“Luke has really grown as a player,” Brown said. “He has constantly upped his game and that’s sometimes hard to do. Sometimes when kids come in as successful as he was — pitching on varsity his freshman year and going 6-1 with a .74 ERA — sometimes you get a little complacent and you forget that fact that you have to keep on improving.”
“But the thing with Luke is that he is constantly wanting to improve his game, whether it was doing better on the mound, being more consistent with throwing strikes, learning how to get people out better, whether it was to try to improve his hitting to the point where he was successful. But he’s always been that way.”
What will Mann remember most from his time at Vianney, besides hoisting that state championship trophy at CarShield Field in O’Fallon?
“The teachers,” he said. “... Just remembering little jokey conversations that we’ve had with them or just special relationships with any part of the faculty whether I’ve had a class with them or not — seeing them in the lunch line or passing them in the halls every day. It’s a nice environment here. It’s just nice to kind of always have a friend around, even if it’s not a friend your age.”
Mann said there were several faculty, staff members and coaches who left a lasting impact on him.
“Ms. (Michelle) Steeg would definitely be one,” he said. “Coach (Scott) Brown having faith in me as a freshman and bringing me up and getting me into this environment so I would adapt to it and be able to be here for four years. Coach (Bo) Bunton, he was here for my sophomore year on. Being on the ball field and then going in, as a counselor, going into his office during free time and hanging out with him and chatting with him.”
“Mr. (Nick) Kheriaty, throughout the four years, if you had his class or not or he was subbing for you, he was always that funny guy who was cracking jokes and then all of a sudden would just break into this deep advice about later on in life or in school that a lot of guys kind of took as he’s just joking around. But I started actually listening deep into it and I’m like, I should probably write some of this down for later.”
Mann will take the life lessons he learned during his four years at Vianney with him into the future. He’ll continue his baseball career as a student-athlete at Missouri with hopes of getting an opportunity to play professional baseball after that.
He will take with him a lifetime of memories from Vianney.
How has Vianney changed him?
“It’s just given me a great four years and let me experience everything I needed to to get me ready for the next chapter,” Mann said. “I’m just happy I had fun.”