Many talented individuals have roamed the halls of Salina High School, commonly referred to as Salina Central since 1971.
Those legendary names now have a permanent place in history.
The Salina Central Athletic Department announced Monday the first-ever class of the Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame. Nino Samuel, Marvin Diener, Jake Sharp, Brian Hill, Shanele Stires, Kaye Pearce, Terence Newman and the 1982-83 boys basketball team form the 2019 class that will be inducted during the upcoming fall.
Salina Central athletic director Greg Maring said this is the perfect group to get this project started.
Maring plans to have this group come back for the first football game at Salina Stadium against Derby in September. If some can’t attend in the fall, there is a chance to honor individuals in the winter.
Seven athletes and one team made up the first class, but there is no specific number of inductees for future classes. However, there are certain standards one must meet.
Members and teams will receive plaques and have a spot on the Mustang Hall of Fame wall near the wrestling room inside the school. This plan has been in the works for quite some time.
Although a committee selected the first group, Maring indicated that the community can nominate athletes and teams online going forward.
More information on this year’s class can be found below. For Salina South supporters, athletic director Ken Stonebraker said conversations are underway regarding a possible Salina South Hall of Fame.
Widely considered to be the best high school basketball player to ever come through Salina, Nino Samuel has numbers that make it hard to argue against that statement. Over three seasons in the maroon and white, Samuel’s career totals were 23.3 points and 15.2 rebounds a game.
Samuel moved to Salina in December 1969 and joined the team as a sophomore. He played in 16 games in the 1969-70 season, averaging 12.8 points and 11.1 rebounds a game to help Salina High win the Central Kansas League title for the first time since the mid-1950s.
A year later, in its first year as Salina Central High School, Samuel was a key player in the Mustangs run to the 1971 Class 4A state title. His scoring average improved to 23.5 points a game, he was named most valuable player of the 4A state tournament and was selected Kansas Player of the Year.
By now every opponent knew of Samuel’s talents, but could do little to stop him. As a senior his scoring average soared to 31.1 points a game and he was again named Player of the Year in Kansas. In perhaps his most impressive performance, he scored 54 points and had 18 rebounds in a five-point semifinal win over Garden City at the McPherson Invitational. The Mustangs returned to the state tourney for the third consecutive year, but were eliminated in the opening round, where Samuel had 14 points and 19 rebounds in his final game.
After high school, Samuel played for the University of Kansas and Marymount College. He later played professionally for Athletes in Action, the Las Vegas Dealers and for a team in the Philippines.
In 19 seasons as Salina Central football coach, Marvin Diener turned the Mustangs into one of the state’s premier programs. The Mustangs made nine championship game appearances under Diener and won six state titles in Class 5A.
During his time at Central, Diener set the school mark for wins by a football coach with 170. His teams had an .802 winning percentage (170-42) and went 32-9 in postseason games.
Diener led his team to 15 playoff appearances, including 14 in row from 1992 through 2005. Between 1993 and 2005, the Mustangs won at least 10 games in 12 of 13 seasons. In addition to the nine title game appearances, Central also reached the state semifinals on four other occasions.
Jake Sharp set just about every rushing record imaginable during his career at Salina Central, with numbers that rank among the best in Kansas history.
He was selected first-team all-state as both a junior and senior, rushing for 6,524 yards and 108 touchdowns with the Mustangs.
As a senior he was named Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year after rushing for 3,304 yards, averaging 10.4 yards a carry. His 63 touchdowns in 2005 were a single-season record in Kansas, and that included four touchdowns in the Class 5A state title game against Blue Valley.
Sharp was also a three-time state champion at the Class 5A state track and field meet, winning the long jump his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, and holds the Central school record in that event (24-2.5).
Sharp joined the University of Kansas football program after graduating from Central, where he totaled 2,239 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns in four seasons, with another 785 yards and six touchdowns receiving.
Brian Hill transferred to Salina Central in March of 1991, shortly after winning a state wrestling title as a sophomore in Nebraska.
His two seasons as a member of the Central wrestling team were certainly memorable, going unbeaten as both a junior and senior.
Wrestling at 152 pounds, he went 29-0 in the 1991-92 season, won his first Kansas state title and helped Central to a third-place finish in the team standings at the Class 6A state tournament that season.
A year later he was competing at 160 pounds and went 33-0 on his way to a 5A title. He ended his career with a 62-0 record with the Mustangs and, after winning his final 13 matches in Nebraska, an overall streak of 75 consecutive wins.
A 1990 Salina Central graduate, Shanele Stires was a multi-sport standout during her playing days with the Mustangs.
As a senior with the Mustangs women’s basketball team, Stires was the city’s leading scorer at 16.4 points a game, while also leading her team in rebounds (8.8 a game) and steals (3.2). A 5-11 guard/forward, Stires’ 36 3-pointers that season were the most by any player in Salina, boys or girls.
During her track and field career at Central, Stires was a four-time state champion. She won the Class 5A state shot put as a sophomore, junior and senior, and added a state discus title during her senior year. She remains to this day the school record holder in the shot put (46-4.75).
Stires played three seasons with the Kansas State University women’s basketball team and averaged 16.6 points and 8.7 rebounds a game during her career. That rebounding number ranks No. 1 all-time at K-State for a career average.
After graduation she played for the Columbus Quest of the Women’s American Basketball League and later played three seasons with the Minnesota Lynx in the Women’s National Basketball Association.
A Salina native, Kaye Pearce earned all-league recognition as a member of the Salina High football team in 1952, but really left his mark when he returned to the school after graduating from Kansas Wesleyan.
Pearce spent 19 seasons as a football coach at Salina High/Salina Central from 1957 through 1975, including the last 16 as the program’s head coach.
He had a record of 91-48-4 (.654) as a head coach. From 1960 through 1968, before the start of high school playoffs in Kansas, his teams never won less than six games when the maximum number played was nine.
Pearce was also activities director at Salina Central when he resigned in 1976 to take a position with the Kansas State High School Activities Association. He became associate executive director with KSHSAA in 1989, and served as executive director from 1993 until his retirement in 1996. Pearce was inducted into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame in 2001.
Terence Newman was known for his outstanding speed and used it to his advantage as a member of the Salina Central football and track programs.
During Newman’s senior season of football in 1997 the Mustangs, using a platoon system, kept him primarily on defense. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound cornerback earned Class 5A all-state recognition after making 45 tackles and a team-high five interceptions. When he got opportunities on offense, he made his presence known, contributing six carries for 65 yards and 10 receptions for 251. Of those 16 offensive plays, 13 were for first downs and four for touchdowns.
As a senior in track, Newman pulled off a sprint sweep at the Class 5A state meet in 1998, winning the 100 (10.98), 200 (21.65) and 400 (48.78) dashes at Cessna Stadium. No athlete in 5A boys has accomplished that feat since.
After graduating from Central, Newman earned unanimous All-American status with the Kansas State University program and was taken in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys with the fifth overall pick.
1982-83 Central boys basketball team
The 1982-83 Salina Central boys basketball team was and remains to this day the only team in Kansas to win a state title with a sub-.500 record.
The Mustangs went 6-13 in the regular season, finished last in the I-70 League with a 1-9 record and were seventh in the Salina Invitational Tournament. Central’s starting lineup did not include a player taller than 6-foot.
The team, playing under head coach Dennis Wahlgren, began its miraculous postseason run with a 31-30 victory over Salina South, its first win in three tries against the Cougars that season. Central defeated Liberal in the sub-state title game at Hays to earn a berth in the 5A state tournament.
Central opened the state tournament at Emporia’s White Auditorium with a 58-56 win over Parsons, a team that was 21-0 and had a front line of 6-7, 6-4 and 6-4.
Todd Rhine’s basket with two seconds to play proved to be the winning points in a 47-45 victory over Wichita Kapaun in the semifinals.
Central led its state title game against a 20-win Stanley-Blue Valley team by 13 points with nearly three minutes to play, but weathered a frantic comeback and defeated the Tigers 50-47.
The Mustangs won all five of their postseason games by three points or less. Central lost five games in the regular season by three points or less. The team’s five postseason opponents had a combined record of 83-22 before losing to Central.
1982-83 varsity lettermen
Seniors: Tyrone Clincy, Martin Knowles, David Lamer, Edgar Outland, Greg White.
Juniors: Greg Brown, Robert Caliva, Tim Green, Todd Rhine.
Coaches: Dennis Wahlgren, Larry Patrick, Steve Ewing, Bill Bartow.