Palmyra senior Daniel Lehenbauer made his college decision some time ago, and it has nothing to do with sports.
Over the past few weeks numerous student athletes have signed their national letters of intent to continue their education and athletic careers at the next level.
Palmyra senior Daniel Lehenbauer made his decision some time ago.
The two-time all-state football player, who helped the Panthers to a pair of state semifinal appearances, will not be strapping on the pads ever again.
Despite holding the Palmyra school record in the discus and owning a third place medal at the track and field state meet last spring, Lehenbauer will not being competing on the track at the next level either.
So where will he land?
“I will be going to the Missouri Welding Institute in November,” Lehenbauer said. “It’s an 18-week program, then I will be out in the work field working on pipelines and shutdowns and those kind of things.”
Lehenbauer admitted he has had both football and track and field programs offer him scholarships to compete in college, but it “just wasn’t worth it.”
“There are some offers, but nothing that really will make it worth my while,” he said. “For what I want to do with my career, (playing sports) just doesn’t mix.”
Not many high school athletes have the opportunity Lehenbauer is turning down. But it wouldn’t be the first time he has made a sacrifice in athletics.
“In football he started out as our fullback and then our offensive line was hit with some injuries,” Panthers coach Kevin Miles said. “We went to Daniel and asked if he would be interested in moving to the line to help the team. He didn’t bat an eye, saying he would do whatever was best for the team.”
For those athletes with the same type of talent Lehenbauer possesses, senior years can tend to be stressful with trying to pinpoint which college or university to choose. For the Palmyra senior, the decision not to continue his athletic career has made his year more enjoyable and more rewarding.
“This year has been easier for me,” he said. “Since I knew I wouldn’t be playing sports at the next level, I gave it everything I had because I knew I would never be doing it again in my life. It has made me work harder and also it’s been less stressful.”
Miles, who also is the boys track and field coach, attested to his star athlete's work ethic.
“He is such a hard worker on the field and in the (throwing) ring,” Miles noted. “You would always see him at weights at 6 a.m. in the summers then go work all day at his family’s sale barn.”
Lehenbauer admitted the decision not to continue his athletic career was hard. He mentioned in his earlier years he envisioned playing at the next level. Then he fell in love with something more dear to his heart.
“It was tough, but I would just rather go weld than go play sports,” he said. “I just love welding and it is what makes me happy.”
Lehenbauer still has a chance to be happy on the track before he begins his career in the fall. He has aspirations to improve on his third place finish in the discus at the state meet.
“I have not done as good this year as what everyone expected out of me and what I expected from myself,” he noted. “But we are just hoping to peak at the right time heading into the sectional this weekend. It would be pretty sweet to finish my high school sports career with a first-place finish at state and break my record and possibly the state record too. I know I can do it.”
Lehenbauer’s school record in the discus is 174 feet, 6 inches. He will compete in the sectional this weekend after claiming a district title in the event last weekend.
Miles noted he believes Lehenbauer can achieve his goals, not only athletically but in life.
“He is a great athlete and an ever better young man,” the Panthers coach said. “He is a great leader through his hard work. He hopes to win a state championship next weekend. But no matter what happens, he is bound for success. He will do great the rest of this season and whatever he does after high school.”