Salem Wildcat Sports Hall of Fame

The Salem Community High School Sports Hall of fame was organized in 1985 under the leadership of then Athletic Director, John Cavaletto. Committee members were SCHS sports enthusiasts and some were graduates and former athletic team members. Admission to the Hall of Fame criteria and the voting method were established and the committee has met almost every month for 23 years.

Sports archives and the writings of Salem businessman/sportswriter Bill Larimer, along with those of another sports writer, Bruce Hixon, are researched and studied. Chairman Cavaletto and his successor, Athletic Director Scott Steward, conduct the meetings but are non-voting committee members.

Induction of Hall of Fame members is held annually the first Saturday in June.

Past and present members of the Sports Hall of Fame Committee are:

  • Ray Baldridge
  • Harold Blank
  • Dr Lou Bryant
  • John Cavaletto
  • Jack Cunningham
  • Les Deason
  • Anna Lou Eller
  • Doris Gatewood
  • Willard Green
  • Greg Gruenkemeyer
  • Lou Gruenkemeyer
  • Mike Hargis
  • Bill Hawley
  • Bruce Hixon
  • Bob Jamison
  • Mark Johnson
  • Shannon Kagy
  • Robert Kane
  • Jim Koehler
  • Bill Larimer
  • Mark Larimer
  • Kerry McLain
  • Charles Mills
  • Dr. Harry Nesmith
  • Robert Phillips
  • Bob Roddy
  • Walter Simpson
  • Scott Steward
  • Gene Yolton

To view the members of the Salem Wildcat Sports Hall of Fame visit the Inductees Page, browse by year on the left, or just start looking through the list of Hall of Fame inductees below.

Hall of Fame Inductees


Danett (Jones) WolfeWhile it was basketball that proved to be her ticket to college, it was also her excellence in volleyball that made Danette (Jones) Wolfe a multi-sport standout athlete at Salem Community High School.

A 2001 SCHS graduate, Wolfe had to wait two years for a talented senior class that won 63 games during that span to crack the Lady Wildcats lineup. Once she got her chance as a junior in the 1999 season, the middle hitter was named the North Egypt Conference Most Valuable Player Award. Besides her individual honor, Wolfe helped Salem compile a 25-7 record to along with an NEC and Class AA regional championship. Wolfe won another NEC MVP Award in volleyball during her senior season in 2000, as she helped the Lady Wildcats put together a 22-6 record and another NEC title.

Although Wolfe also had to wait until her junior season to crack the Salem starting lineup in basketball, she proved to be a valuable sixth man as a sophomore for the 1998-99 Lady Wildcats squad that went 28-3, won the NEC championship and advanced tot he Class AA Elite Eight. Jones averaged 8.2 points per game as a sophomore and earned NEC Honorable Mention status. Wolfe proved to be an early threat from long range, as her 38.5 percentage from three-point territory (25-65) ranked ninth best in school history at the time of her induction. She also qualified for state competition in the Country Financial Three-Point Shot competition.
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1996 Boys Cross CountryWinners of six regular season invitationals to go along with North Egypt Conference and Class AA regional and sectional championships,the 1996 Salem Wildcats cross country team put together one of the best seasons in school history.

Led by individual championships by Chris Owen, Salem kicked off its season by winning the Murphysboro and Granite City Invitationals. The Wildcats displayed their team depth when they won the Herrin Invitational with their junior varsity squad led by a fourth place finish by Willie Shuler. The Wildcats won their fourth straight race to start the season when they claimed the title at the Mt. Vernon Invitational, as Salem had the first or second place finisher in five of the seven flighted races.

Salem suffered its first setback of the season when it finished second to Naperville North at the Downers Grove Invitational, but the Wildcats still had three of the top ten runners led by a third place finish by Chris Owen.
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Paul SaikiaOne of the top baseball coaches in NCAA D-III history, the roots for Paul Saikia’s success began at Salem Community High School.

A 1980 graduate of SCHS, Saikia was a stellar pitcher for the Wildcats having tossed a no-hitter against Mt. Vernon in a contest where he had the game’s only hit and the game’s only run.

Saikia continued his baseball career as a player at Eastern Illinois where he was part of a Panthers squad that reached the NCAA D-II World Series. Saikia transferred to Rend Lake College and transferred again to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
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Erin McMullen AhartErin (McMullen) Ahart went several places where no Salem Community High School girl runner had ever gone before and in many case have gone since during her cross country and track career.

Ahart will always hold the distinction of being the only girl to win four North Egypt Conference individual cross country championships, as that league disbanded in 2003. When Ahart won the first four of those NEC titles in 1996 as a freshman, she did so by establishing a new Salem Bryan Park Course record with a time of 12:06. Ahart had to be at her best that day because teammate Trisha (Hustedde) Richards also broke the course record.
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jeff thayerAlthough his record has since been broken, 1995 Salem Community High School graduate Jeff Thayer left the Wildcats basketball program as it’s all-time career scoring leader. Thayer entered what turned out to be his final game needing 18 points to pass Jim Gaule’s previous school mark of 1,052 points. Late in Salem’s Class AA regional championship game loss to the Centralia Orphans Thayer delivered and finished with a new career standard of 1,057. Thayer’s 23 points in that game marked the 31st consecutive contest he scored in double digits.
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Noah Cosby’s specialty was the pole vault.

At SCHS he qualified for 3 state meets, placing 2nd at the sectional in 1998 and winning the sectional championship in 1999 and 2000. Cosby placed 7th in the IHSA state meet in 1999 and 3rd in 2000.

Along the way Cosby established the North Egypt Conference record of 15’0″ in 2000 and the SCHS record of 15’3″, set at the East St. Louis Invitational in his senior year.

Cosby continued his career at Ole Miss and at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In college his personal record was 17’3″. He was the Atlantic Coast Conference champion in 2004 and an NCAA qualifier in 2005.
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