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Parkersburg Catholic’s Aaliyah Brunny trying to stay focused

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg Catholic’s Aaliyah Brunny competes in a hurdles event during a high school track meet last season at Don Drumm Stadium.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg Catholic three-sport standout Aaliyah Brunny is as ready as anyone to get back to normal.

However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic definitely has been a thorn in her side.

“We just got told we’ll be finished on the 22nd and we don’t have to take finals so that’s good,” said the junior, who qualified for four events at last year’s state track meet.

As far as the current new normal goes she admitted “so far it’s been OK. I’m getting to know my little sister (Akhia) a lot better. I’ll be playing with her next year at Catholic. I’ve been practicing with her and it’s been interesting.

“We’re trying to get her into volleyball, but she doesn’t like it that much. She’s a big tennis girl and my mom wants her to do track, but I don’t know how that will go. We’re trying to get her to throw because she’s big and strong. We’ll see how that turns out.”

Overall, things have turned out fairly well for Brunny thus far in her athletic career.

In volleyball, she was named captain of the Class A second team. The basketball team was undefeated and ready to play in the state semifinals before the stoppage. She was named first team all-state in hoops as a sophomore and earned the captain spot on the second unit this year.

Brunny, who was the defending state 300 hurdles champ, admitted of track practice this year “I went to one of them, but I wasn’t allowed to practice.

“I went to see what they were doing before one of our basketball practices. It looked like they were doing OK. Other than that, I didn’t get to do anything.”

She finished third in the 100 hurdles last spring in Charleston, but had the fastest time coming back in the state. She also would’ve been out to better her fifth-place effort in the high jump.

She also qualified in the long jump.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Brunny admitted. “Track, I was so excited for it. All the people who beat me in some of my races were graduating. I was so excited.

“It was my year to win all four events at state. My past few years I haven’t enjoyed long jump as I did in elementary school and stuff. It’s gotten a lot harder. This year I was going to try and run the 400.”

Brunny said people told her she’s built like she’s supposed to run in an event like the 400.

“I was never willing to try it because I don’t like running long distance,” she said while adding “but maybe I’ll give it a try this year and I never got to experience that.

“I guess there is always next year and stuff. I did high jump in the sixth and seventh grade and stopped in the eighth grade and started up again in the middle of last season and made it to states, placed and that was really exciting.”

Losing the end of basketball season and a chance to bring a state championship banner back to PCHS with head coach Marty Vierheller is something that’s hard for her to get past.

“Coach V’s son Ben found out because of the student section figuring it out,” Brunny recalled. “They didn’t want to tell us to ruin our moment that was happening. When we came out during halftime they said it would be the last game of the tournament and all that and we were shocked.

“My years of playing high school basketball we’ve gone to the state tournament and came back stronger and this year I definitely think we could’ve won it all. It really sucks that we don’t have that opportunity and we’re going to be losing Madeline (Huffman), who is like our biggest player. It sucks for her too because she didn’t get to experience something like that.”

One experience Brunny is quite familiar with is coach Vierheller at basketball practice.

It’s something she’s grown accustomed to and knows the importance of.

“His conditioning helps me so much during track, too,” Brunny added. “If I wasn’t doing basketball, I’d definitely die during track. His conditioning really helps.

“I’d say, it’s not like terrible, but it’s not easy because of the different ways you have to condition for different races and from basketball conditioning to our summer workouts with Tom Brock, those help a lot.”

Brunny said of running the Quincy Park steps “is something that you will never forget if you run them one time. Whenever Alexis, my oldest sister, played I was in fourth grade and I was playing with them and I’d go up there and run with her. I’ve been running those stairs every year since fourth grade.”

The pandemic also has put the AAU hoops season up in the air. She’s hoping to play some games this summer.

“It keeps changing and no one really knows,” Brunny said. “I had a few camps scheduled. Fairmont had a camp in August. Hopefully, things clear up around then.

“I usually go to some showcases during the summer, too. I bet some of them won’t be happening. A bunch of stuff already has been canceled.”

Looking beyond her senior year, Brunny already has a scholarship offer from Fairmont State to play in the Mountain East Conference.

“That’s exciting, but I have no idea if I want to run track or play basketball yet,” she admitted. “That’s kind of where I’m stuck right now. I’d love to play a sport on the next level.”

A student-athlete who rarely has a moment to slow down for much, Brunny is trying to take things day by day.

“This is my time of year for three months where I just go, go, go, go, go and I don’t know what to do,” Brunny expressed. “If I feel that way I know the kids feel that way and it’s hard.”

Although life at home has been different with no sports or physical classroom studies, Brunny did learn an important lesson about her family dynamic.

“My mom is still working, that’s something that hasn’t changed,” Brunny stated. “She goes to work. Other than that, it’s just four kids here. When the quarantine happened we tried to have a game night and we are too competitive.

“That turned into a big fight so we can’t keep doing that. My little brother (Tyrell) plays football and basketball and baseball and we try to go outside and keep playing. Other than that, Xbox and Fortnite have the attention.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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