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Athlete of the Week

LebCo Female Athletes of the Week: Abby Berarducci & Gabby Smith (Week Ending April 21, 2024)

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Abby Berarducci

As this season has progressed, Palmyra’s Abby Berarducci’s time in the 1600m was steadily decreasing. At the Jack Roddick Invitational on April 20th, the senior ran an impressive 5:13.22, placing her 10th in the competitive field. What made her time even more special is that it set a new Palmyra Track record, besting the old mark of 5:13.5 that was run by the legendary Miranda Salvo in 2015. Additionally, earlier in the week, Berarducci notched victories in the 800m and 1600m as the Cougars defeated Hershey. It was these performances that earned Berarducci positive praise from the community, who selected her as a LebCo Female Athlete of the Week.

How did Berarducci follow up her record-setting week? Naturally, she broke her own record. At the Lebanon County Track & Field Championship Meet this past Friday evening, Berarducci won the 1600m by :26, taking another :04 off her time to establish the new Palmyra record. Her time of 5:09.06 nearly broke ELCO’s Kaleigh Perry’s meet record of 5:08.8. She later took silver in the 800m with a time of 2:24.71.

For Berarducci, her personal goal was to set Palmyra’s 1600m record. However, injuries during her sophomore and junior seasons looked like they might keep her from hitting that mark.

She is now healthy and competing at a whole new level. Her recent accomplishments are that much more rewarding, given that she has fought through adversity over the past couple of years.

In terms of her recent racing, Dave Hollen, Palmyra’s Distance Coach, said, “Abby has been very focused and has really matured as a runner. She knows her pacing very well and understands what it takes to gradually improve that pace. She is racing well and finishing every race with a strong kick.”

Palmyra Head Coach Danny Byrd said, “Abby has been such a great contributor to the team over the years, but she has really been running great this season, especially in the 1600! It’s great to see all her hard work and dedication pay off. The way she has been running, it wouldn’t surprise me if she keeps breaking her own record well into the post-season.”

Berarducci has goals of continuing to drop her times in the 800m and 1600m while being able to compete in the District 3 Championships. She is also hopeful that the 4x800m relay team will continue to drop its time after having success, including a County Meet victory with a time of 10:02.20. 

For Berarducci, the thrill of competition is something she thrives upon. She has qualified for States in Cross Country and is a key contributor on the Palmyra Swim Team. She is thankful to her family for supporting her and sacrificing in order for her to be a year-round athlete. I

With just over a month left in her high school academic career, Berarducci has her sights set on earning a doctorate in occupational therapy. If she attacks this goal like she does the meters on the track, there is no doubt that she will achieve her goal.

For now, we will enjoy watching what else she can accomplish the rest of this season. We wish Abby the very best as the Track & Field Championship season awaits. 

Photos provided by Palmyra XC & the Berarducci Family




Gabby Smith

The week of April 15th was a special one for ELCO’s Gabby Smith. On Wednesday, the Raiders stared down perennial powerhouse Donegal. In the 5th inning of a scoreless tie, Smith took over on the mound for Abby Hassler. Smith held Donegal scoreless, and when the game was pushed into an extra inning, it was the junior’s bat that provided the solo home run that would give ELCO victory. On Friday, Smith became ELCO’s all-time career strikeout leader when she recorded the 408th of her career to pass Samantha Shimp. For her efforts, Smith was rewarded by the community when they selected her as a LebCo Female Athlete of the Week.

Gabby with catcher Chloe Shirk

ELCO currently has a 10-4 record, and Smith is a large part of the reason the Raiders are in a prime position to make the District 3 Playoffs. She has provided solid play as a pitcher, batting out of the leadoff spot and playing in the field as a shortstop. During her sophomore season, she batted .451 and struck out 151, stats that earned her a selection to the All-State Team. This was despite a hip injury, through which she persevered. 

A now healthy Smith has not let up. She is currently batting .439 with 20 hits (4 triples, 2 home runs), 11 RBI, 14 runs scored, and 4 stolen bases. She has won all six games she has started and is carrying a 2.14 ERA. Her 79 strikeouts this season have now put her at 455 for her career.

When asked about Smith, Coach Allen Phillips first pointed to her personality and what she means to the team, “Gabby will be the first to tell you that softball is all about the whole team. However, she is undoubtedly the glue that holds this ELCO team together.”

The head coach went on to praise Smith’s talent, stating, “Gabby is an amazing five-tool athlete, and in my humble and maybe a little biased opinion, I truly believe that Gabby is one of the best players in all of Pennsylvania. Throw in her exceptional leadership abilities, and I guess that makes her a six-tool athlete.” 

Smith is not the first in her family to star on the mound. Her older brother, Dakota, was a star who pitched for ELCO Baseball and, as a senior in 2021, helped lead them to the District 3 Championship. Honoring her brother, Smith carries two gloves with her to each game and wears Dakota’s glove whenever she is pitching. In addition to Dakota, her brother Austin is a current sophomore and three-sport athlete at ELCO.

Like her brother, Smith is a three-sport athlete and in addition to softball she plays Basketball and Volleyball. Of those sports, she is hoping to play softball collegiately while she majors in physical therapy.  

With such a hectic athletic schedule while balancing the rigors of being a student, Smith has found that painting helps her to relieve stress. It seems to be working to help her reach new heights.

We wish Gabby the best of luck as she continues the climb and hope to see her and ELCO teammates playing well into the postseason.

Photos provided by ELCO Softball




Click to read about the LebCo Male Athlete of the Week: Gavin Bicher


For a full list of this week’s nominees, check out: Athlete of the Week Voting: April 15 – April 21



Previous Winners

Katelyn Brenner (Weeks of March 11th, 18th)

Abby Hassler (Week of March 25th)

Danika Setlock (Week of March 25th)

Abby Palkovic (Week of April 1st)

Addison Hollenbach (Week of April 8th)

Zariyah Whigham (Week of April 15th)



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