Michael Pender may have been known most for being in the backfields of the 2011 and 2012 State football games but he is also known as the school record-holder in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Pender also excelled in the classroom where he said his cumulative GPA was between a 3.5 and a 3.6.
Pender will be heading off to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas come November though he has hopes to possibly run track or play football at the college level upon his return.
“I've played football since seventh grade,” said Pender. "I started at safety my junior year until I broke my wrist. It was in the Rush City game. Now I have a titanium plate and 11 screws in my wrist.
"It was about as bad as it gets, with both the radius and the ulna bone broken. It won’t grow any more since I broke the growth plates.
"It was the second game of the season. I watched from the sidelines as the Rebels got second place in the state that year.
"Andy Olson took my spot and did a good job as we needed a safety.”
Pender is also a member of the 900-Pound Club in weight-lifting.
“I probably would have gotten further had I not broken my wrist,” he said.
“As far as best memories," Pender said," Louzek (Head Coach Dave Louzek) was the best, along with getting second place in the State two years in a row."
Recalling football games brings individual players to mind.
“I think the best offensive player I played with was my running mate in the backfield, (Jake) Disterhaupt," Pender said. "As far as the toughest player, that’s Isaac Coil on our scout team as a middle linebacker. "
Team-wise Pender named Caledonia in his senior year.
"Their players were all good," Pender said. "I really thought we had that win when Tony Adamczak threw that 87-yard TD pass to Coil."
During his career, Pender recalled 27 touchdowns and over 1,700 yards rushing.
"Football was my favorite sport," Pender said.
He won All-State Honorable Mention and All-Conference.
“I also played basketball all four years since seventh grade," Pender said. “A concussion snow boarding on Christmas Eve put a damper on my season.
"I think when I came back I did have one game where I scored 18-20 points."
Pender shot 62% from the field and 50% from three-point line.
"I averaged 6.8 points per game with 1.4 turnovers per game," said Pender. "The rest of my stats just aren’t worth mentioning. I’m just not that much of a basketball player.”
Pender picked up the hurdles his sophomore season.
“I tried them and I liked them,” he said. "I was able to break the school record held by Nick Kwapick of 41.9 in the 300-meter intermediates. I ran a 41.7.
"The 110's were also fun. I made a run at Lee Holte’s record of 15.2 as I ran a 15.7.
"I liked track so much that last couple of years because of our coach, Tony Andres. He was so much fun and really knows what he is doing. "
Highlights during Pender's athletic career included beating Esko during his junior year, having so many kids go to the State Track Meet, being Polar League Champ and All-Conference two years in a row in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdle jumps.
"It was kind of funny how such a good team came together our junior year," said Pender. "It was kind of like, let’s give track a try."
In his senior year, Pender placed 12th at State in both the 110's and 300's.
The young athlete made a firm decision about his future. He joined the Air National Guard.
“A recruiter came through and I liked the idea,” Pender said. "I’ll be leaving for Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas on November 12th for Basics. I’ll be in Security Forces."
Pender will complete thirteen weeks of schooling, serve eight years overall with six years consisting of one weekend a month at the 148th Air Base in Duluth.
Upon his return, Pender may try our for football or track at UMD or St. Scholastica.
This summer Pender was a lifeguard at the beach. He also worked at Hoffmann’s Ace Hardware.
Leaving home won't cause Pender to forget the good times.
"What I’ll miss most about Moose Lake is the small community where everybody knows everybody and the community is so supportive," Pender said. "It was always the best to go to away games and see more Moose Lake-Willow River fans in the stands than the home team.
"Those send offs to the Dome with the escorts and all the signs and the people lined up to wish us well, that was the best.”