Pender leads Titans into state tourneyDickinson Trinity senior Lance Pender has been in the hunt for a Class B state tournament medalist since he was a sophomore.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson Trinity senior Lance Pender has been in the hunt for a Class B state tournament medalist since he was a sophomore.
Pender will finish his high school career on the links of the Oxbow County Club at the Class B state golf tournament starting on Monday.
“I knew what his true potential was and I knew where he could be at,” Trinity head coach Tyler Reisenauer said. “It was a pretty good year for everybody.”
However, Pender didn’t have a fairy tale start to the season. Though he was consistently in the top 10 in the first three tournaments, he didn’t feel like he was performing as well as he could.
Then, one day, something clicked and Trinity’s lone senior started rattling off wins. He put together five straight medalists in a row to end the regular season.
Pender has five years of state tournament experience. The only year he missed state was during his eighth-grade season. In the last two seasons, he’s led after 27 of the 36 holes.
During his sophomore season, he finished in a tie for fourth with a 151 and took a tie for sixth (156) in his junior season. Pender has learned to from his state tournament experiences and hopes to put those losses behind him.
“I just have to play as myself,” Pender said. “I can’t worry about it. I just have to go out there and play.”
Reisenauer knows Pender is a potential state medalist, but the first-year coach said there’s a specific distinction to having a state tournament state of mind.
“You’ve got to have a different mindset going into state,” he said. “You can’t go in there thinking you’re going to win. You have to be confident to win, but if you get to overconfident that’s when you’re expectations aren’t met.”
Not only has Pender been improving throughout the year, but the rest of the team has the sense of winning. The Titans broke the school record of a team captained by Reisenauer. Trinity shot a 297 at the Region 5 team qualifier tournament on May 15 at Pheasant Country Golf Course in South Heart.
“Especially breaking the school record and shooting in the 200’s is kind of cool,” Pender said. “That’s one of the lowest scores for state, as far as team qualifiers.”
Trinity junior Nathaniel Knopik said the poise is there and a majority of the golfers on the team have state tournament experience.
“I think we’re all pretty confident in where we are at right now,” he said. “All of us besides David Pokorny have had state experience already. We’re all going to down there practicing at least twice or three times before state.”
Another obstacle Pender had to battle to start the season came long before it.
On October, he was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor.
He said after that happened he knew he would have to gain everyone’s respect back.
“My basketball coach, Gregg Grinsteinner, talked to me the whole way through it,” Pender said. “Trinity is a pretty good support system with that. I knew what I had to do gain everyone’s respect back. I hope that I’ve done that well enough through my golf and what I’m doing as a person.”
The charge had a big influence on how Pender wanted to portray himself to classmates and teammates. He said it was a motivating factor during his senior year.
“You just have to be smart,” he said. “It kind of helped me drive through the year. I wanted to do better knowing that I did mess up and that if I wanted to play college golf that I’d have to do even better than I wanted to do.”
Reisenauer had been happy with Pender’s senior-year production.
The first-year coach feels at ease with his team and Pender is a big reason being a vocal leader and a teacher.
“He definitely took it upon himself to be the leader and he went with it,” Reisenauer said. “He teaches these guys when I’m not around. He’s trying to improve everybody on the team and he’s not just worried about himself.”