Tomah girls golf team earns Academic All-State honors
The Tomah girls golf team added yet another feather in the cap of what already was an historic 2019 campaign.
The Lady Timberwolves learned last week they earned Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin Academic All-State honorable mention honors as a team.
The team honor is determined by the average GPA of the Tomah golfers who participated in the 2019 Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regional.
Tomah finished fifth among Division 1 schools with an average GPA of 3.972.
The 2019 WIAA regional roster for the Lady Timberwolves included Sarah Peterson, Sophie Pokela, Brin Neumann, Amelia Zingler, Jayda Zhu and Hannah Zhu.
All six golfers earned all-Mississippi Valley Conference honors this season, while Peterson, Pokela, Jayda Zhu and Hannah Zhu were named to the 2019 GCAW Academic All-State Team as individuals.
Sheboygan North/South finished in the top spot in Division 1 this season, followed by Waunakee in second and Catholic Memorial in Third.
Kettle Moraine was fourth in the final Division 1 placement, while Tomah landed in the fifth slot.
"We were pretty close to the top," said Tomah head coach Tonya Gnewikow. "The other schools had to have a 4.0 because four out of five of my girls had a 4.0 GPA."
The honor, one the Lady Timberwolves have received for at least 10 seasons in a row, caps off a stellar fall season that say Tomah finish seventh in the 2019 WIAA Division 1 Girls Golf Championships at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison.
Along the way, Tomah captured the 2019 Mississippi Valley Conference championship, finished runner-up in regionals at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids and won a sectional title at Stevens Point Country Club.
Tomah set several individual and team records this season as well.
Pokela recorded an even-par 72 to set a school record in the Tomah Tune-Up at Hiawatha Golf Club and the Lady Timberwolves broke team nine and 18-hole scoring marks.
"I am blessed to have very good scholar athletes," offered Gnewikow. "Other coaches are worried (about eligibility) when grades come out, but I've never had that worry - it makes my job easier."
The continued academic success of the Lady Timberwolves can be traced back to the team's pre-season meeting among parents, coaches and players, where Gnewikow stresses to all that academics come first.
"The older girls can help the younger girls - it's been very successful so far," she said.
Gnewikow gives a lot of credit to the administrators, guidance counselors and teachers at Tomah High School who work with class scheduling to keep the golfers from missing important class time due to sometimes day-long golf matches.
"Our guidance counselors are amazing - they are truly helpful - and our teaching staff is excellent," she added.
Gnewikow said the nature of golf results in a lot of missed class time for participants.
"We miss a lot of school during golf because our competitions are played during the day. We have to make use of the daylight," she said. "Sometimes they miss a whole day. Other sports miss maybe the last hour of the day for travel, but they never miss a whole day or a half day."
Gnewikow also is flexible when it comes to academics.
"If the girls have to make up a lab or a test and the have to come to practice late, that's okay because academics come first,” she said.
As far as Gnewikow is concerned, the GCAW team honor ranks right up there with the rest.
"To be honest, I rank this right up there with winning a conference championship and a sectional championship. I think it's great that they're succeeding at this high level in class as well," offered Gnewikow.
"I'd put it right up there with going to state. In the long run, they're going to use academics in college more," she continued. "In my past experiences, all of my golfers have gone on to have success in college and in their careers."