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

BEGumMr. B.E. Gum was the Superintendent at Salem Community High School from 1937 until his retirement in 1967. The gymnasium bearing his name is a reminder of the commitment he had toward sports and is the reason he is being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. Gum began his career in Keyesport and then in Odin. When the two and three year high schools became obsolete, Mr. Gum was hired in Salem in District #111. Mr. Gum saw an opportunity to form a new Community High School district and was instrumental, along with board President John L. Kagy, in forming Salem Community High School District #600. This new school included several surrounding towns in the tax rich properties of the oil and gas that encompassed 1/3 of Marion County.

KirbyPhilllipsKirby Phillips had already enjoyed coaching success with the Salem Wildcats football underclassmen when he became the head coach of the boys track program in 1985. Two year later Phillips added head coach of the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats cross country teams to his duties. When Phillips stepped away from those positions after the 2001-02 school year, he had taken each of those programs to heights not previously achieved.

While his first Salem boys track team in 1985 came up short at the North Egypt Conference Meet, his squads came back to win the title in each of the next 16 seasons. Phillips’ greatest success with the Wildcats track program came in 1999 when Salem grabbed a share of the Class AA Murphysboro Sectional championship. That remains as the program’s only sectional title. That 1999 team later finished fourth at the state meet. During Phillips’ track tenure Salem qualified more than 30 individuals and 15 relay teams for the Class AA state meet in a two-class system.

JoePetreaA multi-sport athlete during his Salem Community High School days, 1977 graduate Joe Petrea saved his best for the baseball field.

Petrea participated in cross country, basketball and baseball during his time with the Wildcats and received the Salem team rebounding award for the 1976-77 season. It was Petrea’s abilities on the baseball field that landed him a spot at Kaskaskia College where he excelled for the Blue Devils from 1977-1979. Petrea, who handled first base duties, made an immediate impact at Kaskaskia College as during the 1977 fall season he hit .354 and was selected to the Southern Illinois Collegiate Conference Team.

JanetHolstWhen Janet Holst-Behrens arrived in Salem in 1995, she also inherited a Lady Wildcat basketball program that had posted just one winning season in the previous 14 years. Twenty-one years later Holst-Behrens has built a model of consistent success and took the program to levels it had never reached before.

Prior to her stop at Salem, Holst had put together a highly successful stint at Newcomb, New Mexico where she compiled a 134-60 record during her eight seasons there, which included four straight 20 win seasons. It took a little while for Holst to rebuild the Salem program, as her first three teams combined for a 33-46 record. Starting in the 1998-99 season her teams had winning campaigns in 17 of the next 18 years, which included twelve 20 win seasons. Her teams won six conference championships, a run that began when it claimed the North Egypt Conference championship in 1999 when it compiled a perfect 14-0 record. That was the first conference title for the Lady Wildcats in 20 years. After Salem moved to the Apollo Conference for the 2003-2004 school year, her teams won the title in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012.

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.

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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