Contributed Photograph

The Lakeland golf team, from left, head coach Scott Howard, Kyle Bengtson, Adam Lazaroff, Kailey Godfrey, Jake Collins and Ansen Nomm, pose with the WIAA Regional championship trophy on Tuesday, May 22, at Indianhead Golf Course.
Contributed Photograph

The Lakeland golf team, from left, head coach Scott Howard, Kyle Bengtson, Adam Lazaroff, Kailey Godfrey, Jake Collins and Ansen Nomm, pose with the WIAA Regional championship trophy on Tuesday, May 22, at Indianhead Golf Course.
After making history with one of the best golf seasons ever played in the Great Northern Conference, Lakeland High School looked to extend its year in the WIAA Division 2 Regionals at Indianhead Golf Course in Mosinee on Tuesday.

The Thunderbirds hadn't won a regional title in quite some time and came in second to Medford last season.

Lakeland has cruised through its competition this season, shooting some of the best scores in program annals. On Tuesday, however, the team had to grind out a score of 332 and squeaked past Northwestern in a tiebreaker for first place.

"As a team we didn't have our best stuff, but it was also a very tough golf course and it's playoffs," LUHS head coach Scott Howard said. "Added pressure, teams you haven't played with or against - things like that are going on too. We battled hard all day as a team even though we didn't have our best stuff. It was tough scoring, but we ended up tied and the way we played in the playoff was amazing."

Last Friday at Inshalla Country Club in Tomahawk, Lakeland wrapped up the regular season by shooting a 305 and three players scoring in the 70s.

Fast forward to Tuesday, on a tough course, not a single T-Bird broke 80 for the first time all season.

Adam Lazaroff and Kyle Bengtson tied with Medford's Ryan Perrin for seventh place with an 80. Meanwhile, Kailey Godfrey was in a three-way tie for 11th (85) and Ansen Nomm was also in a three-way tie for 16th with an 87. Jake Collins rounded out the group in 19th with a score of 88.

"Scores are always traditionally a little higher on that course, particularly on the back nine, where there were some pin placements that were really tough," Howard said. "We just weren't as sharp as we have been, but fortunately that didn't cost us anything and we were able to win the tournament. At the end of the day that's all that matters. Sometimes you have to grind out scores and we were able to do that."

While Lakeland didn't have the same magic it had all season, it buckled down in the tiebreaker to secure the win.

With the T-Birds and Northwestern both scoring a 332, they played a tiebreaker with all five players on each team. Lakeland would go 1-under par as a team on the playoff hole to prevail 15-18 in the round.

Nomm and Bengtson each recorded birdies, while Godfrey made an up-and-down shot from the for par, while Northwestern had three bogeys.

"We hit a lot of good shots once we got into that," Howard said. "You had 10 people playing one hole, which is chaos in itself. We all had pretty good drives, but unfortunately the fairway goes left to right. We had three of our players that were behind trees and all three of those players missed the green. Northwestern had four players on the green and one on the fringe, so they were really looking good. We had three one-puts."

The T-Birds advance to sectionals on Tuesday, where they once again get to play on a course they have had success on.

Inshalla is the destination, but because Lakeland has only played on the course once this year and once last year, Howard doesn't believe it will be an advantage for his team.

"We don't have a ton of experience on it, but we have played it," Howard said. "There's going to be 11 other teams there besides us. There's some teams that have shot some really low rounds. If you look at our regional, you had four teams separated by a stroke. It doesn't get any closer than that. You have 12 teams vying for two spots, so it's going to take some really good golf to advance out of that."

Nick Sabato may be reached at nick@lakelandtimes.com or via Twitter @NickSabatoLT.