Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Tomah sophomore Jack Christen watches his approach shot on the 11th hole at Hiawatha Golf Club during Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 golf regional. Christen fired an 18-hole round of 80 to lead the Timberwolves to Tomah’s first regional title in 33 years. Herald photo by J.P. Schaller.

There's no place like home

Christen propels Tomah golf team to WIAA regional title at Hiawatha

Toto was nowhere to be found, but the Tomah boys golf team may have been clicking its heels a bit at Hiawatha Golf Club after capturing its first Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regional title in 33 years Tuesday.

The last time the Timberwolves won a regional they were known as the Indians, Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Eddie Murphy had a top-10 Billboard hit with “Party All The Time” and Ferris Bueller took a day off.

But that didn’t matter to the Timberwolves, who edged Mississippi Valley Conference rival Holmen by a stroke to win the 2019 Division 1 regional championship.

“We got the start we wanted,” said Tomah head coach Randy Neumann. “We played the first three holes at one-under.”

Neumann said he knew his team had a chance at the title playing on its home track.

Holmen won the 2019 MVC championship by winning all but one conference match this season.

But Tomah stayed within striking distance all season long and finally broke the ice with a win at Hiawatha back on May 6.

“The home-course advantage is keeping the ball in play. I don’t think anybody (from Tomah) hit a ball out of bounds,” offered Neumann. “With the home-field advantage, you can miss, but keep it in play so you’re still able to attack the green and keep away from those big numbers. The wind made that very difficult, but having beat (Holmen) at our home meet, the guys knew they could do it again.”

Jack Christen fired a six-over-par 78 when Tomah won the MVC match in early May.

The sophomore didn’t disappoint Tuesday either, leading the Timberwolves with an eight-over-par 80 on the par-72 layout.

Christen tied for second in the individual standings with Holmen’s Carson Brock.

“Jack is a very confident young man,” said Neumann. “He has passion. Whatever he takes on, he goes at it pretty hard.”

Sophomore Kade Gnewikow had a solid round as well, shooting a nine-over-par 81 to finish fourth in the individual standings, while sophomore Hunter Neumann came in ninth with an 84 and sophomore Kale Gnewikow finished tied for 10th with an 18-hole score of 85.

Senior Nolan Stees rounded out Tomah with an 87 to finish tied for 14th in the 35-player field.

“I’m very proud of them already. We’ll keep our nose to the grindstone,” Neumann offered. “We haven’t taken a day of all season – even with the bad weather.”

Up next for the Tomah linksters is Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids.

Neumann knows the sectional field is a tough one, but he looks at it as a great opportunity for his team.

“We’re definitely underdogs, but it’s an opportunity. It’s always a goal to make it to state as a team, but we’ll probably have to shoot around 315,” he said.

Tomah will travel to Wisconsin Rapids Monday to play a practice round at The Ridges.

“I’m excited. We got our first look at the course today and it’s a little like Forest Hills. My opinion is, anything can happen because there will be a lot of big numbers out there. It might even out the field a bit,” said Neumann. “Looking at the course guide, most shots will be 200 to 220 off the tee. Keeping the ball in play will be key, so we can attack the greens. That will be very important for us. We’ll see how it goes on the front nine, and depending on where we are, we may take some chances on the back.”

Tomah won the regional title with a team score of 330, followed by Holmen in second with 331, Onalaska in third with 340, Reedsburg in fourth with 361, Wisconsin Rapids in fifth with 362 and Sparta with 376 strokes in sixth.

The top four teams in the Tomah Regional move on to Tuesday’s Division 1 sectional, which will get underway at 9 a.m.

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