District 2 Golf Championships: MMI Prep’s Jessica McClellan breaks through

By Dave Rosengrant - For Times Leader
McClellan -

ROARING BROOK TWP. — In two previous appearances in the District 2 Golf Championships, Jessica McClellan had performed well enough to advance to the East Regional, but fell short of a Class 2A gold medal.

On Monday, everything came together.

The senior from MMI Prep broke through with a score of 81 to win the District 2 Class 2A title after finishing twice in two other showings at the tournament. Not only did McClellan win the event, but she tied for the lowest score ever in the 2A girls tourney. The only other female to score an 81 was Selena Cerra from Holy Cross in 2012.

“Obviously, I have bigger goals for the end of the year in my high school career, but this is definitely one of the stepping stones that I wanted to get there, to win districts,” said McClellan, now a three-time regional qualifier. “Things haven’t gone my way at districts but I’m glad to pull it off on the last chance.”

McClellan is one of three district champions crowned from the Wyoming Valley Conference at Elmhurst Country Club and she is part of the group of nine golfers from the conference who advanced to the East Regional on Monday, Oct. 15 at Golden Oaks Golf Club in Fleetwood.

Evie Williams from Crestwood claimed her second straight District 2 Class 3A crown, while Lake-Lehman’s Bobby Lugiano picked up his first District 2 Class 2A title.

Wyoming Seminary’s Jeremy Callahan and Bobby Wilson and Holy Redeemer’s Derek Answini all qualified for regionals in Class 2A. Kyleen McCance (Class 2A girls) from Hanover Area and Grace Babinchak (3A girls) from Hazleton Area also advanced to regionals.

Dallas freshman Logan Paczewski placed second in the 3A boys event and will be the only representative from the WVC in that class at regionals.

McClellan book-ended her round with birdies on holes No. 7 and 6 to beat McCance, the second-place finisher in 2A by eight strokes.

Williams also started her round on No. 7, but began with an eagle, which turned out to be the deciding shot as she held off Babinchak by one for her second straight title. Williams, a senior, also birdied the No. 4 holes as she carded a score of 83.

“That really boosts my confidence knowing that I can play today,” Williams said. “I feel better about this (district title) shooting eight strokes lower than (last year’s) 91. So it makes me feel a little better going into regionals. I have more experience now. So I’m excited.”

Lugiano followed his win at Pre-districts last week, when he won by one shot, to claim the district crown with a two-stroke victory over Callahan and Answini. It’s his third high school tournament win in the last two years as he improved on his showing of third at last year’s D2 event.

“All the hard work paying off,” Lugiano said. “I had two bad holes, but other than that a pretty good day. Just playing how I usually play.”

The Lake-Lehman junior also said that he has played rounds with Answini,Wilson and Callahan, and hopes to get a practice round in at Golden Oaks with the three prior to regionals.

“In the regular season, we were all within a few strokes so I knew it would be tight today. I knew I had to put up a pretty decent score to make it,” Lugiano said about the scores with his WVC mates. “We’re all pretty good friends. I think we’ll set up a practice round together. Try to learn the course together.”

Paczewski had the best round of any WVC golfer on Monday. The only other player in the field to best him was Wallenpaupack’s Alex Pillar, who claimed the gold shooting 3-under par 69. Paczewski’s 2-under par 70 was the lowest by any WVC golfer at districts since Mariano Medico carded 68 in 2012.

Still, the Mountaineer advances to regionals after winning the Tryba Tournament and the Pre-district event.

He was involved in a competitive round with Pillar as they were paired together. Pillar took the lead with birdies on two of the last three holes. Paczewski birdied No. 18 as one of his four on the day, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Pillar, who picked up his second straight gold.

“We were having a great match throughout the whole time. Me and Pillar were always tight throughout the whole round. We were neck-and-neck until he made the last two birdies where he separated from me,” Paczewski said. “We knew we were playing together. And every time we play together we have a lot of fun.”

The entire 3A boys field was competitive. Only four golfers advanced to regionals, but all finished under par. In fact, Abington Heights’ Troy Kelleher, who was also in the group with Paczewski and Pillar, scored 71, but lost on a three-way playoff to move on. One of the reasons for the low scores, Paczewski thinks was the elite weather conditions.

“Last year, I know it was cold and windy. I was only in eighth grade, but I was there,” Paczewski said. “Today it was hot and 70 degrees. The ball was going normal distance making it a lot easier.”


Regional Qualifiers

Girls Class 2A

Jessica McClellan, MMI Prep`39-42-81

Kyleen McCance, Hanover Area`45-44-89

Chloe Sipe, Elk Lake`46-46-92

Girls Class 3A

Evie Williams, Crestwood`38-35-83

Grace Babinchak, Hazleton Area`43-41-84

Boys Class 2A

Bobby Lugiano, Lake-Lehman`40-35-75

Jeremy Callahan, Wyoming Seminary`39-38-77

Derek Answini, Holy Redeemer`36-41-77

M.J. Stivala, Scranton Prep`39-39-78

Bobby Wilson, Wyoming Seminary`40-39-79

Frank Ruggiero, Dunmore`38-41-79

Boys Class 3A

Alex Pillar, Wallenpaupack`35-34-69

Logan Paczewski, Dallas`35-35-70

*Will Brown, Abington Heights`37-34-71

*Nick Sebastianelli, Abington Heights`35-36-71

Troy Kelleher, Abington Heights`37-34-71

*Won three-way playoff for final qualifying spot


By Dave Rosengrant

For Times Leader

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports

Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLsports