ROARING BROOK TWP. — It was an absolute perfect start for Pittston Area junior Allie Craig at her third District 2 Class 3A championships Tuesday at Elmhurst Country Club.
Starting on the 14th hole — a dogleg left, par-4 — Craig striped her drive, made a solid second shot and buried the putt. It was an opening round birdie. From there, Craig admitted to getting a little too excited, and she would falter later in the round. Craig shot a 96 and missed the cut to advance to regional play.
Craig missed the cut by nine shots. The junior will have one more year to get back to the district championships before graduation.
“I was overly excited after that birdie,” she said. “From there I was thinking about going out and doing something special.”
Other locals competing were Wyoming Area senior Nik Athmann and freshman Cole Coolbaugh. Athmann made his second appearance at the District 2 Class 2A championships and shot a 91, improving nine strokes from last season. Freshman teammate Cole Coolbaugh, making his first appearance at the district championships, shot a 90.
The cut to make it out of districts was a 79.
Craig, who has suffered with her short game over the majority of her high school career, said that’s what kept her in the game most of the round. She struggled with her driver and her approach shots into the greens at Elmhurst.
Prior to this season’s district championships, Craig said she prepared a lot more and practiced her short game.
“I really wanted to come in strong and put up a good score,” she said. “I struggled with everything on Tuesday and couldn’t get it back in time.”
Although the district championships didn’t go as planned for the Pittston Area junior, she did have her best season as a Patriot golfer. As a team, Pittston Area finished with a 2-8 record as Craig was the No. 1 golfer all season.
In those 10 matches, Craig’s scoring average was hovering around a 43. She saved her best golf for when she was on her home course, Fox Hill Country Club.
Craig earned medalist honors on Sept. 4 when Pittston Area beat Valley West 165-177. Craig shot her first sub-40 round with a 39. Two weeks later, her 42 against Wyoming Area took medalist honors.
Craig would go on to win the Pre-District Tournament at Wyoming Valley Country Club after shooting a Class 3A-best 88 to qualify for the district championships. She shot an 89 at the preseason Tryba Tournament.
“This season was absolutely amazing, and I was finally able to keep it together,” she said. “I had a great team come out this year and they really worked together in practices. We all supported each other on the course.”
Craig will be taking some time off over the next several months to get away from the game. She said she will start working again in January and get ready for a batch of events she has planned for next spring and summer.
“I have some tournaments picked out for the offseason, and I’ll come back stronger than I’ve ever been,” she said.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick