Hall of Fame Inductees

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.

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.

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.

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.

Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the 1998 Salem Lady Wildcats cross country team had high hopes despite losing 3 of it’s Top 5 runners as graduating Seniors and facing an increase in official course length from 2 miles to 2.5 miles. The team returned the top 2 runners in Junior Erin McMullen and Senior Trisha Hustedde and rounded out its experience with returning varsity runners in Junior Gena Terlizzi and Senior Audrey Hargis. Add several talented younger runners into the mix and the team had a promising season ahead.

The Lady Cats started the season with a victory scoring 35 points at the Murphysboro Invitation, finishing in front of rival school Mt. Vernon. McMullen lead the team with a 2nd place finish, Hustedde right behind in 3rd and Freshman Erica Jansen in 5th. Next, the ladies won the Granite City Invitational with a team score of 65 points. The Mt. Vernon Invitation made it three in a row for the Lady Cats with a combined score of 10 points, winning 4 of the 7 filghted races. (more…)

The 1999 boys track team is the first track team to be inducted into the SCHS Hall of Fame. The accomplishments of this team, undoubtedly, make it one of the best teams in any sport at Salem Community High School.

Coached by Kirby Phillips and assisted by Orlando Ramos, their success began early in the season when they won the Sterling Indoor Meet, edging out Springfield Lanphier. Throughout their season, the team totally dominated all dual and triangular meets. In large, multiple team meets they were champions of the Paducah Tilghman Invitational, Wamac Invitational and Marion Relays, and finished an impressive second place at the Mineral Area Meet at Belleville West, Orphan Relays, Al Joyner Classic, and Mt. Vernon Relays. (more…)

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