A four-year standout for the Salina Central wrestling program, Chris Bell put together a remarkable run over his final three seasons as a Mustang.
As a freshman in 1976, Bell reached the Class 4A state semifinals in the 98-pound weight class. His loss the following day in the consolation bracket was the last of his career.
Bell began a three-year unbeaten streak the following season. He went 26-0 as a sophomore competing at 105 pounds and won his first state title in 1977.
As a junior, Bell moved up to 119 pounds and continued his successful run. He finished 29-0 that season and won his second consecutive 4A championship.
A move to Class 6A in 1979 (the first year for the new classification in Kansas) did not prove to be a problem for Bell. He again finished 29-0, extending his winning streak to a school-record 84 matches.
Over his final three state tournament appearances, Bell’s closest match was an 8-4 decision in the 1978 final. Chris is the only three time Salina Central State Wrestling Champion.
Bell wrestled collegiately at the University of Wyoming. There he established school and Western Athletic Conference records for victories, going 132-20 while winning three WAC championships and two conference MVP awards at 126 pounds.
A 1994 Salina Central graduate, Kenyetta Fears was one of the top sprinters in the state of Kansas during her senior season with the Mustang track and field program.
Fears pulled off a rare sprints sweep at the Class 5A state meet in 1994, winning gold in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash at Wichita’s Cessna Stadium.
In her four years at Central, Fears won 13 state medals, including the maximum four in each of her junior and senior seasons. She was also a state champion in the 200-meter dash as a junior. Of her 13 state medals, 10 were in events where she placed third or better.
More than a quarter of a century later, Fears remains the school record holder in the 100 (11.90), 200 (25.20) and 400 (58.29).
She was also a three-year letter winner with the Central volleyball program, earning first-team all-league and all-county following her senior season. After High School Kenyetta attended JCCC and the University of South Carolina were she continued her track career.
As a two-sport standout at Salina High in the mid 1940s, Bobby Knight excelled in both football and track and field.
A 5-foot-10, 235-pound fullback, Knight was twice named first team all-state by the Topeka Capital following his junior and senior seasons. He was also selected first team all-conference by coaches in the Central Kansas League in his final two seasons.
According to the Topeka newspaper, Knight scored six touchdowns during his senior season in 1945, but was known for his ferocious blocking skills. He also handled the kicking duties for Central, kicking 25 extra points, sending more than 20 kickoffs into the end zone and averaging nearly 50 yards on his punts and free kicks. Central went 8-1 in his final season and outscored its CKL opponents 203-0.
Knight was also a three-time state champion in track and field. His first title came at the 1944 Class A state meet as a sophomore, where he won the shot put with a distance of 50-8 ¼. The following year he won Class AA state titles in the shot put (51-0 ½) and discus (156-6). At the time, that mark in the discus was a state meet record for all classes and stood until 1950.
Jim LoVullo spent more than three decades coaching tennis in the Salina school district, primarily at Salina Central before retiring from coaching following the 2012 season.
The Central girls won seven league titles and three Class 5A state team titles during LoVullo’s 17 seasons leading the program from 1989 through 2005.He resigned as girls head coach prior to the 2006 season, but later returned as an assistant coach.
When LoVullo was named the Central boys tennis coach in 2006 the Mustang boys were coming off back-to-back 5A state championships. LoVullo’s teams extended that streak to six, winning the 5A title every year between 2004 and 2009.
Coach had 9 State Titles as Head Coach and 2 as an Assistant during his tenure as coach at Salina Central. Coach LoVullo had 5 doubles Champions and 1 Single Champ.
LoVullo received several coaching honors during his time at Central. He was named by the Kansas Coaches Association as Kansas Girls Tennis Coach of the Year in both 1995 and 2003, and in 2004 was named Midwest Section Coach of the Year, covering a six-state area. In 2008 he was also named the KCA’s Kansas Boys Tennis Coach of the Year in 5A.
LoVullo was inducted into the Kansas Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame in 2014. Coach LoVullo as coached basketball and football at Lakewood along with being the Athletic Director. He also Coached Swimming, Track, and Softball at Salina Central.
Salina Central had one of the state’s top boys golf programs in the mid 1970s and Bryan Norton was a big part of that.
Norton, a 1977 Central graduate, was a member of the Central varsity golf team all four years of his high school career. During those four seasons, the Mustangs never finished worse than second place in a state, regional or Central Kansas League meet.
Norton was a three-time state medalist, including a runner-up finish as a junior in 1976. Central won back-to-back Class 4A state titles in 1974 and 1975, then finished second behind Independence the following two years.
Norton was a two-time regional medalist in 1975 and 1976, finishing as runner-up his senior year. Central won three regional titles in Norton’s four years. The Mustangs also swept the CKL titles all four years, with Norton medalist at the league meet his senior year and runner-up in 1976.
Norton was a two-time NCAA all-American at Oral Roberts University, where he helped the team finish second at the NCAA tournament in 1981 and third in 1980. He is a three-time Kansas Amateur champion and spent 10 years playing professionally.
In terms of longevity, few Salina coaches can match the career of Central swim coach Keith Smith.
Hired by the Salina school district in 1981, Smith was named the Central boys swimming and diving coach that same year. He held the position for 32 seasons before retiring in 2013.
Smith also spent 21 seasons as head coach of the Central girls swimming and diving program. He held that position for a single season in 1985, then returned as head coach for the Mustang girls from 1992 through 2011.
Smith also spent 23 seasons as Salina South High School boys coach and 21 seasons as South girls coach.
He was a long-time proponent of dividing the Kansas State Swimming and Diving Championships into two meets — one for Class 6A and another for schools class 5A and smaller — with a desire to get more of his athletes an opportunity to compete at the state championships at a true team level. That effort was realized in 2010, when KSHSAA agreed to hold separate meets for the smaller classes in both boys and girls swimming.
Coach Smith was recognized by his coaching peers within the Kansas Swimming Coaches Association, (of which he was a charter member), as the Kansas State Swimming Coach of the year in 1991, 2002, and 2010.