Hall of Fame: Salisbury-Rowan Class of 2019 announced

Published 11:45 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

By Mike London

SALISBURY — While the Class of 2019 is the 19th Salisbury-Rowan Sports Hall of Fame class, the quality of the inductees hasn’t diminished.

All five candidates elected in the general voting by the Hall of Fame committee either coached or competed for Rowan County teams that won state championships.

The class includes a pair of modern West Rowan coaching legends.

Boys basketball coach Mike Gurley has coached more victories in the sport (409) than anyone in county history and guided West to back-to-back state titles. West rolled to 61 straight victories in undefeated seasons in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Gurley’s West teams six straight conference championships from 1997-98 to 2002-03.

He also guided Lexington to a state title before he came to West.

The late Scott Young raised the bar higher, not only for West, but for all Rowan football programs with four straight trips to the 3A state championship game and three state titles from 2008-10. He stands second on the county’s all-time wins list for football with 172 victories. Young’s 2000 team beat A.L. Brown and Concord in back-to-back weeks and claimed the first football conference championship in school history.

Shayla Fields,  the greatest scorer in Rowan County basketball history (male or female) with 2,783 points, led Salisbury to an undefeated season and the 2004 2A state championship. Fields averaged a school-record 27.8 points per game as a senior, 25.5 as a  junior and 23.8 as a sophomore. Fields was a three-time Rowan County Player of the Year.

She went on to score more than 1,000 points as an All-ACC performer at N.C. State.

The 32-year-old Fields will become the youngest member of the Salisbury-Rowan Sports Hall of Fame.

Bobby Parnell, a successful pitcher in the major leagues with 20 wins and 37 saves for the New York Mets, also was an infielder for powerful East Rowan and Rowan County American Legion teams.

Parnell played first base for the 2002 Rowan County American Legion team that won the state championship at Newman Park. That 43-2 team didn’t make it to the World Series, but it was arguably the strongest team in the county’s storied Legion baseball history.

Donald Jenkins, a three-sport standout at Salisbury High in the late 1980s, was no stranger to championships. He starred for the 1986-87 Salisbury basketball team that went 30-2 and won the 2A state title. He also led the Hornets to the 1986 1A/2A state cross country championship at McAlpine Park and won the 1600 meters in the 1987 1A/2A Track and Field Championships. He was Rowan County’s Male Athlete of the Year for the 1986-87 school year.

A pool of veterans candidates are considered each year. Two were elected in this class — Lonnie Kluttz and Don Heglar.

Kluttz, who died in February of this year, was a product of East Spencer’s Dunbar High, graduating in 1963.

He excelled in high school sports and played college basketball at Johnson C. Smith before he entered two years of military service. He starred at North Carolina A&T after his service commitment.

Still one of the top rebounders in North Carolina A&T history, he averaged a double-double as a senior for the Aggies. Kluttz was a draft pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1970. He played briefly for the American Basketball Association’s Carolina Cougars and also played professionally in Venezuela.

Heglar was a sensational southpaw pitcher in the early days of West Rowan and also starred for Rowan County Legion teams, striking out as many as 18 batters in a game.

He had a 21-3 record in high school, with four no-hitters. He sparked the Falcons to two conference titles and the 1961 Western North Carolina High School Activities Association championship.

Selected for the Fred M. Evans Community Service Award was Ted Oglesby.

As head coach of Rowan County’s five-on-five Special Olympics basketball team, he’s won 10 state championships and finished runner-up several other times.

He’s also served as a volunteer coach in the Junior Hornets youth league.

Chosen for the Horace Billings Award for lifetime achievement was David Freeze, who has done a great deal for the sport of distance running, both as a participant and as a writer about his experiences and those of fellow runners.

Freeze was inspired to become a runner in his mid-20s when he watched the 1978 New York Marathon on television. In 1993, when he was 41, he became a state champion in his age group.

Hall of Fame committee members are Wilson Cherry, Ralph Shatterly, Howard Platt, Aaron Neely, Mark Wineka, Robert Steele, Mike London, Scott Maddox, Dennis Davidson, Charles Hellard, Jeff Holshouser, Terry Osborne, Jimmy Heggins and Karen Stamey. Davidson and Maddox are co-chairs of the group.

Steve Clark of Salisbury Parks and Recreation serves as liaison between the Hall of Fame committee and the City of Salisbury.

Induction ceremonies will be held at the Salisbury Civic Center on Sunday, Aug. 11, at 2 p.m. Rowan native Kent Bernhardt, production coordinator at Performance Racing Network, will once again be the event’s emcee.