GREENFIELD TWP. — For one, it was a mad dash. For the other, a methodical march. Both proved equally effective in Monday afternoon’s District 2 individual golf championships, as North Pocono junior Billy Pabst and freshman Gwen Powell swept the Class 3A titles at Elkview Country Club.
Pabst looked like a commuter late for a train as he sprinted, golf bag in hand like a briefcase, the final 100 yards to the 15th green to mark his ball before his brilliant approach shot had a chance to trickle off the false front guarding the pin.
It led to a birdie and was the defining moment in an even-par 72 and a one-stroke victory over Dallas’ Logan Paczewski.
Powell was in control after an eagle on the par-5 first, her second hole of the day, and steadily pulled away from Hazleton’s Isabelle Ritz, pouring in three late birdies on her way to a sparkling 76 and a 10-stroke victory.
Pabst becomes the school’s first District 2 individual boys champion, while Powell is North Pocono’s first girls champ since Amanda Reach won in 2011.
“It’s great for the school,” Pabst said. “I guess you could say North Pocono’s name is out there again. We’re on the comeback.”
The winners will advance to the PIAA championships, slated on Oct. 20 for Class 3A at Heritage Hills Resort in York. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class 2A and 3A fields will be split, with Class 2A boys and girls playing Oct. 19, and Class 3A the following day.
Pabst and Paczewski will be joined by Valley View’s Logan Gavin, who made some key putts down the stretch to shoot 78 and earn the district’s third spot at states.
Powell will be joined by Ritz and Pittston Area’s Jordyn Ruane, whose 89 was good for the final girls qualifying spot.
“It’s really awesome,” Powell said. “Boys and girls, we’re representing at states. I think we’ll do well. Billy‘s a good player and I knew that I had a chance to win today. I wasn’t too surprised.”
Pabst was less surprised at Powell’s good fortune.
“She’s always at the range, hitting balls. She’s a hard worker,” Pabst said. “Definitely a harder worker than I am probably because I’m out with my friends most of the time playing captain-and-mate. She practices a lot. She’s good. Obviously it’s paying off today.”
Pabst’s ability to leave the bad shots on the previous hole helped him in a battle with Paczewski.
Leading by two shots coming to the par-5 14th, Paczewski two-putted for birdie while Pabst four-putted for a double bogey.
“I got real antsy over the 9-iron I had in,” Pabst said. “I was trying to force it so hard.”
He knocked his second shot in the bunker short and right, then left himself a 25-footer for birdie, which he blew 5 feet past. The slipper downhiller trickled 7 feet away and he took two more strokes from there.
“I was trying to make it and the next one was a bad putt,” said Pabst, who then followed his own advice. “You did it to yourself. Just get it back on the next one you’ll be in good shape.
“Very short (memory). You’re going to get burned more than you succeed out here, especially in golf. You roll with the punches, I guess. ”
Pabst bounced back, rocketing a hybrid off the tee that left him 100 yards on the par-4 15th, a hole he’d never parred — and still hasn’t.
“I feel like a different person, not making a bogey on that hole,” Pabst said. “I was scared. I hit it and thought it might be pretty good, then I saw it rolling and then I was running pretty fast. I couldn’t tell from back there if it was staying on the green.”
It did, and he rolled in the 8-footer for birdie while Paczewski missed the green long and made bogey to reclaim the lead.
“Big momentum swing, obviously, but I was just more happy that I didn’t make a bogey on the hole,” Pabst said.
Pabst picked up another shot when Paczewski three-putted the par-3 16th, giving Pabst a cushion that he needed when Paczewski birdied the final hole.
Powell’s win had far less drama, but not any less excitement as she birdied three of her last four holes to salt away the victory.
“Whenever I hit my drives good, I play pretty good,” said Powell, a freshman. “I had a few hiccups, but most of my drives were spot-on. That really helped today.
“I don’t know how many fairways I hit, but I just didn’t get in as much trouble as I did in predistricts. I was in the fairway more often.”
She two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th, chipped in on the par-3 16th and got up-and-down from above the hole on the par-5 17th for her final birdie.
“I had a nice flop shot,” Powell said. “It landed and barely moved out.”
She rolled in the 4-footer for birdie and a round 12 strokes better than the league qualifying tournament.
“Predistricts I had trouble with the greens,” Powell said. “I got to see them in predistricts and then also league districts. It taught me more about the greens.”
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at email@example.com, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.