mike_lenichA basketball coach who served two stints at Salem Community High School, both highly successful, and the coach of the first Salem team to advance to the State Tournament, was one of the 1986 inductees into the Salem High School Sports Hall of Fame.

With military service twice interrupting his coaching tenure, Michael E. Lenich coached Salem basketball teams from 1938-1941 and from 1947-1951. He holds the distinction of coaching the first Salem team to the State Tournament in 1940. That team compiled a 26-6 record and reached the quarter finals before dropping a 34-30 decision to Champaign.

A graduate of Hurst High School in 1931, where he was a four-letter winner in both football and basketball, Lenich graduated from SIU at Carbondale where he earned four letters in basketball and three in football.

Lenich’s Salem teams won back-to-back North Egypt Conference Championships in 1946-47 and 1947-48. In his first stint, the Wildcats compiled a 49-26 record, and from 1946 through 1951, they had an 88-58 mark. During that period, their best won-lost mark was 27-3 in 1947-48.

Lenich retired from coaching in 1951 upon re-entering the service. He retired from the Air Force in 1970 as a Colonel while at Grissom Air Force Base, Peru, Indiana. He and his wife had two children, Robert and Ann.

He has two brothers, Steve of Joliet, who participated in athletics at Salem and later also coached here; Bill, of Kirkwood, Missouri; and two sisters, Zora Zelko and Katheryn Larson, both of Joliet.