Pemberton heads to state with top 10 finish as goal

Jacob Steimer

Senior Kelli Pemberton will compete at the state golf match in Manchester on Tuesday and Wednesday after the girls’ golf team proved second best in the region on Thursday. Pemberton won the district match and shot a 73 on Monday. She finished second at region, and the team lost to Farragut by one stroke, keeping Bearden from receiving a team invitation to the state tournament. “In your mind, you go through all the shots you could’ve cut off to let the team go [to state],” freshman standout Bailey Edwards said. It was a tough loss to take for the whole team. “Pretty much my whole goal was to win district and bring the girls on to state,” Pemberton said. While Pemberton accomplished her first goal, the second goal went unchecked. She set herself a new one. “For me, individually, I want to finish in the top 10 at state,” Pemberton said. “I have high expectations for myself going to state.” If Pemberton does prove to be top 10 in the state, it won’t be by luck or accident. “She gets lessons all the time,” Bearden golf coach Susanne Sisco said. “She is really dedicated outside of practice, and she is really dedicated at keeping her average low.” And it’s not just the coach who notices Pemberton’s hard work. “She’s really patient, practices every day, and is determined to be the best golfer she can be,” Edwards said. Pemberton has committed to play golf at Carson Newman next year, yet she sometimes feels underappreciated as a Bearden athlete. “Sometimes it’s hard not to feel that way,” Pemberton said. “In the end, I know it doesn’t matter because I know I’m going on to college and getting a scholarship.” Pemberton is not the only golfer on the team who might have a future in college golf. Edwards shot a 79 on Thursday and has a bright future in her next three years of Bearden golf. “She has a lot of potential,” Pemberton said. “She has great potential to play in college, if she chooses to. She has a great swing and a much better mental game then I do.” But where does Edwards get this sound mind on the golf course? Edwards counts it as the main thing she learned from Pemberton. “[Kelli and I] knew each other beyond golf,” Edwards said. “She helped me mentally.” So while both girls would argue that the other girl plays the game smarter, both are glad to have had a season playing it together. While Edwards would obviously enjoy playing in the state tournament next week, she will be rooting hard for the one whose shoes she will soon be filling.