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PA Sports HOF Central Chapter Honors Top Female Athletes of 2023

On Sunday, May 21st, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame held the 40th edition of the Scholastic/Collegiate Athletic Awards Ceremony.  The event, formally known as the Prayer Breakfast, honors top senior collegiate and high school athletes from the area.  While announcing the male and female winners of the Henry L. Wilder Collegiate Award, the event also honored the C.S. “Pop” Kelchner Award nominees from each of the region’s ten high schools.

Below is a list of the female honorees.  As you read through this list, remember that these athletes missed the spring season of their freshman year as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown.

Here is a link to the previously published list of male honorees.


Henry L. Wilder Memorial Award

Henry L. Wilder worked as an editor for the Lebanon Daily News.  In his role as a newsman, he worked to promote athletics and athletes within the area encompassed by the Central Chapter.  In honor of his efforts, an award was established in his memory to honor collegiate athletes in their final year of competition.  Each year, a top male and top female from the Central Chapter are selected for this award.

The female recipient of the 2023 Henry L. Wilder Memorial Award  is Ariel Jones.  Since graduating from Cedar Crest High School in 2017, Jones was a dominant force for the Shippensburg University Women’s Basketball Team.  While Jones had to wait for her fourth year after losing one to Covid and another to injury, she returned during her senior season to finish 2nd in NCAA Division 2 in scoring and was named as a 1st Team All-American while leading her team into the NCAA Tournament.  Her accomplishments are plentiful as she finished her playing career as the PSAC’s All-Time Leading Scorer (2,806), the PSAC All-Time single-game scoring record (51), the PSAC All-Time single season scoring record (795), and the NCAA Division 2 All-Time record for career free throws made (850).  Twenty times during her career, she was named as the PSAC Player of the Week.  She is currently playing (and starring) for Australia’s Ringwood Hawks.

Unable to attend, the award was accepted by her brother, Amani Jones.


(Photo taken from Shippensburg profile)



C.S. “Pop” Kelchner Nominees

This scholar athletic award is awarded annually to a senior athlete in honor of C.S. “Pop” Kelchner, the former head scout in the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Organization.  Kelchner, an alumnus of Albright College, took interest in high school athletics, taking note of the ability of the athletes, but also the character displayed while on the field of play.

The following is a list of the female nominees from each of the high schools located within the Central Chapter. The top female will be selected as the 2023 C.S. “Pop” Kelchner Award winner and will be honored at the Central Chapter’s Hall of Fame Induction Dinner that will be held later this year.


2023 C.S. “Pop” Kelchner Award Nominees

Photo Credit: Julie Beidler



Claire Hoover (Field Hockey/Basketball/Softball/Track & Field): During her high school career, Hoover was the recipient of eleven varsity letters.  In the fall season, she was a three-time letter winner for the Dutchmen Field Hockey Team, serving as a team captain and twice being named as a Section 4 All-Star.  During the winter, she also captained the Annville-Cleona Basketball Team as part of her four years playing at the varsity level.  During her first two years of high school, Hoover spent the spring season playing Softball before making the switch to Track & Field.  This past season, Hoover medaled twice at the District 3 Championships, taking bronze in the javelin and 5th in the high jump.  Her performances aided Annville’s efforts in winning the District 3 Team Championship.  Hoover will be attending Penn State University and is currently undecided on a major.



Cedar Crest

Lilian Young (Soccer/Track & Field): Overcoming ACL tears during her freshman and junior years, Young’s toughness and perseverance could not keep her from the field of competition.  In Soccer, she was a three-year letter winner, serving as a team captain in her final two years of high school.  She served as the Lady Falcon’s number one scoring threat this past season.  In Track & Field, she was a three-year letter winner.  Young will attend Jacksonville University where she plans on majoring in health sciences (on a pre-med track), while also continuing to play soccer.


Conrad Weiser

Sydney Werner (Cross County/Track & Field): A standout in distance running, Werner was a four-year letter winner in Cross Country, where she was District 3 medalist and PIAA qualifier in each of her high school seasons.  During her senior season, she finished 13th in the State.  In the spring, she excelled on the track, earning three varsity letters and serving as a team captain her junior and senior seasons. She is graduating with the Conrad Weiser school records in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m.  In the 800m and 1600m, Werner was a three-time medalist at the Berks County Track & Field Championships.  At Districts in 2022 and 2023, she finished 7th in AAA, qualifying both years for the PIAA State Championships.  Werner will attend Bloomsburg University where she plans to major in nursing while also continuing to run cross country and track.



Samantha Nelson (Soccer/Basketball/Track & Field): A three-sport star for ELCO, Nelson was consistently a leader while also racking up accolades of her own.  In Soccer, she was a two-time team MVP, playing goalie on a team that won four straight Section 3 titles and also won a District 3 Championship on the way to qualifying for States twice.  For her efforts, Nelson was also twice named a Section 3 All-Star.  She had similar accolades during Basketball, as a four-year letter winner, team captain, and two-time Section 3 All-Star.  Nelson was a three-year member of the ELCO Track & Field Team, serving as a team captain and graduating with the school records in the javelin and discus.  Although she was a key member of three Section 3 Championships, her biggest individual accomplishment came at States this year, where she earned two medals (javelin – 4th; discus – 8th).  Nelson will be attending Southern Utah University where she plans to major in mechanical engineering while continuing her athletic career.



Emily Beitzel (Field Hockey/Lacrosse): During her four years playing varsity Field Hockey, Beitzel led her team to two District 3 Championship games and three PIAA State Tournament appearances.  For her efforts Beitzel was named as the Mid Penn Keystone Co-Player of the Year in 2022 and was twice an All-State selection.  In Lacrosse, Beitzel was a three-year letter winner, leading the team in scoring three times as they were crowned as the Mid Penn Champions in each of those years. Beitzel will attend Ohio University (Honors Tutorial College) where she plans to major in translational health and exercise physiology, while also continuing her field hockey career.


Aaliyah Ferrer (Tennis/Basketball/Track & Field): A three-sport leader for Lebanon, Ferrer was in each sport she played.  In Tennis, she was a two-time letter winner, serving as a captain during her two years playing.  She also participated in Track & Field for two years, both seasons serving as a captain and qualifying for Leagues in the high jump.  However, Ferrer will mostly be remembered for her prowess on the Basketball court, serving as a captain as Lebanon won Section Championships her junior and senior seasons.  During her senior season, she was one of the main scoring options for the Cedars as they went undefeated in the regular season and were Lancaster Lebanon League runners up and went onto win a game in the PIAA State Tournament.  Ferrer will attend Alvernia University where she plans to major in athletic training while continuing her basketball career.

Milton Hershey

Ediany “Nani” Gonzalez (Cross Country/Basketball/Softball): In Cross Country and Softball, Gonzalez was a two-year letter winner and team captain. However, she will mostly be remembered for Basketball where she was a three-year letter winner and two-time team captain on her way to leading the Spartans to their first District 3 Playoff appearance in seventeen years.  For her efforts, she was named to the Mid Penn All-Star Team and was an honorable mention on the Penn Live Big 15 Team.  Gonzalez will attend Dickinson College where she plans to double major in political science and Spanish.

Northern Lebanon

Samantha White (Volleyball): Playing four years for the Northern Lebanon Volleyball Team, White was a three-year letter winner and was three times named as a Section 3 All-Star.  During her senior senior she was named as the Section 3 MVP and was an All-State selection.  The Lady Vikings made Districts the last two years, with an appearance in the PIAA State Tournament her senior season.  The State berth marked the first time in school history that this occurred.  White will attend Millersville University where she plans to major in sports medicine while continuing to play volleyball.


Alicia Battistelli (Field Hockey/Lacrosse): Battistelli was a key member of the Palmyra Field Hockey Team as they won Districts and made the State Finals three times (with one State Championship) during her four-year playing career. Over that span, Palmyra was 76-13-3.  During her senior season, she was a team captain and led the team in scoring. Battistelli was named as a First Team All-State Selection. In Lacrosse, she was a three-year letter winner and was the team captain.  During her senior season, she eclipsed the 100 goal mark for her career.  Ranked 5th in her class, she plans to continue her education at the University of Vermont where she will major in public communications while also playing field hockey.


Tulpehocken HS  

Faith Forry (Soccer/Track & Field): A four-year letter winner in Soccer, Forry served as a team captain as Tulpehocken won two Division Championships.  During her playing career, her teams qualified for Districts each of the four years. For her efforts, Forry was selected as a Berks All-Star.  In Track & Field, she was a team captain and won three letters.  Primarily a javelin thrower, Forry was a member of the 4x800m team that finished 7th at Districts.  She will attend Penn State University – Berks where she plans to play soccer.  Her major is undecided.


More photos from the event taken by Julie Beidler can be accessed here.

For more information on the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, check out their website.


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