Monday, November 11, 2019
Tomah sophomore Sophie Pokela blasts out of a bunker on the 17th hole. Herald photos by Nate Beier.Tomah senior Sarah Peterson eyes her path to the cup before taking a putt on the 13th hole Tuesday. Tomah junior Jayda Zhu watches her shot from the fairway on the 14th hole during the WIAA State meet Tuesday. Tomah freshman Brin Neumann follows through on a shot from the fairway on the 16th hole at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison Tuesday. Tomah freshman Amelia Zingler watches her ball after a tee shot on the 15th hole.

Sizzling second round

Lady Timberwolves step up to finish seventh at state golf tourney

Tonya Gnewikow asked three things from her golf team as the Lady Timberwolves headed to University Ridge Tuesday morning for the second day of the 2019 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 Girls State Golf Championships.

Putt better, score better and enjoy the experience.

And as they’ve done all season long, the Lady Timberwolves stepped up and followed their head coach’s lead, putting together four scores in the 80s to fire a sizzling team score of 339.

The round moved Tomah from its 10th-place finish in Monday’s opening round to seventh overall in the 12-team Division 1 field.

The finish was Tomah’s best-ever at state – besting the Lady Timberwolves’ eighth-place finish in 2012.

“We played with a much better strategy today,” offered Gnewikow in a phone interview during Tuesday’s trip home from Madison. “You could just tell by all the girls walks and their smiles. Every single girl shot better today than they did on Monday.”

Tomah, which held the sixth-best scoring average in the state heading into Monday’s opening round, finished the day in 10th place after shooting a team score of 369.

But after taking Gnewikow’s advice to heart, the Lady Timberwolves responded with a second-round score of 339 – the fourth best round of the day among Division 1 teams.

“I think everybody was a little nervous and the greens gave us huge problems on Monday. We had our highest putt total of the season,” she said.

“They have huge, undulating greens. I think we were a little nervous and we were just trying to get the ball on the green,” Gnewikow continued. “Today, we went in with the mentality of getting our yardage to the pin and playing just short of it.”

The strategy worked, as Tomah cut 30 strokes off its first round and came within one stroke of a sixth-place finish and sixth strokes out of fifth.

Sophomore Sophie Pokela and freshman Brin Neumann led the Lady Timberwolves at state, finishing in a tie for 26th place in the 78-player field.

Pokela shot 87 on Monday and 84 on Tuesday to finish with a 36-hole total of 171, while Neumann finished at 171 as well after shooting 18-hole totals of 90 on Monday and 81 on Tuesday.

Senior Sarah Peterson ended her high school golf career with a 180 after putting together 18-hole rounds of 94 and 86, while junior Jayda Zhu shot 98 and 88 to record a 186 and freshman Ameila Zingler finished with 102 and 99 to shoot 201.

Gnewikow was happy Peterson was able to wrap up her four-year run at Tomah with a solid tournament.

“Sarah is just steady – she shoot two nice rounds – and her 86 on Tuesday was just phenomenal,” said Gnewikow, confirming that Peterson has made a verbal commitment to play golf in college at Viterbo University in La Crosse. “She is very well organized and she has a plan going into each round. Today, she attacked it with more aggression and had our lowest putt total of the round.”

Middleton posted a team total of 651 to capture the Division 1 championship, while Brookfield Central finished runner-up 13 strokes back at 664.

Third place went to Kettle Moraine with a 665, followed by Arrowhead in fourth at 685, Waunakee in fifth at 702, Bay Port in sixth at 707, Tomah in seventh at 708, Stevens Point in eighth at 722, Cedarburg in ninth at 725, Union Grove in 10th at 734, Sheboygan North-South in 11th at 737 and Green Bay Preble in 12th at 785.

Gnewikow said the experience is one her and her team will not soon forget.

“The unique thing about state is all the team bonding – eating together, staying two days in a hotel together with the girls and the parents is such a fulfilling experience,” she offered.

Gnewikow also was impressed with the way the Lady Timberwolves conducted themselves on and off the course.

“A number of parents and coaches came up and said it was so enjoyable playing with our girls because they were so respectful. That’s more important to me than the end result,” she said.

“The other players, parents and coaches said we had the nicest girls they’ve played with all season,” continued Gnewikow. “My heart is full. I’m so proud that we are bringing up good citizens and good teammates. The integrity of the game is very well kept with the Tomah girls.”

Gnewikow believes the experienced gained at state will be invaluable when the Lady Timberwolves hit the links again next fall.

“I think the ladies who golfed here will have a huge confidence level and comfort level. They want to come back next year,” she said.

“I’m just so proud of this group of ladies and I’m looking forward to returning to state next year,” concluded Gnewikow. “We had so much fun we didn’t want it to end.”

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