SJU Hall of Honor to recognize 13 inductees Oct. 5
September 24, 2019
Vic Moore, the president of the Saint John’s J-Club, admits his organization has some catching up to do when it comes to the school’s newly-established Hall of Honor.
The Hall only became a reality last year when legendary longtime head coaches John Gagliardi and Jim Smith were named the first two inductees.
But given athletics at SJU date back to at least the late 19th century, that still leaves almost a century-and-a-half of worth Johnnies’ sports excellence on which to draw from.
Which made narrowing down the list of this year’s first full class of honorees a challenging task.
“We’re still at the beginning,” Moore said. “We’ve got around 150 years to take into consideration here.
“I think it’s fair to say that just about everyone who was nominated this year is going to be in the Hall at some point.”
In the end, though, the voters (made up of the J-Club Board of Directors) settled on a class of 13 inductees - 12 individuals and one team.
The group will take their places in a ceremony scheduled for Oct. 5 in Guild Hall as part of Homecoming festivities.
And it is still possible to be there in person. More information on attending the induction ceremony can be found online.
“It’s really going to be a special evening,” Moore said.
The list of inductees reads like a who’s who when it comes to the history of Saint John’s athletics:
- John Cragg ('71) was a three-time All-American in cross country and a two-time All-American in track.
- Blake Elliott ('03) led the Saint John’s football team to the 2003 national championship, earning that year’s Gagliardi Trophy honoring Division III’s most outstanding player. The wide receiver is a six-time candidate for the College Football Hall of Fame who still holds 15 of the school’s individual football records.
- Adam Hanna ('07) was named MIAC MVP in 2004-05 and earned the Sid Watson Award as the top player in Division III for the 2005-06 season.
- Pat Haws ('72) spent 37 years at Saint John’s as the head coach of soccer and swimming. He remains the winningest coach in Minnesota college men’s soccer history, and his teams won seven regular-season MIAC titles.
- John McDowell ('64) was a two-time All-American defensive lineman who helped lead the Johnnies to the NAIA national title in 1963, the school’s first national championship. He went on to spend several seasons in the NFL.
- John ‘Blood’ McNally ('24) lettered in four sports (football, basketball, baseball and track) at Saint John’s and went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL, becoming a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. He returned to Collegeville as the head football coach from 1950-52.
- Sammy Schmitz ('03) remains the only four-time All-MIAC, All-Region and All-American golfer in school history. He finished in the top eight four times at the Division III national meet. And he went on to compete at the Masters in 2016 after winning the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship the year before.
- Bill Sexton ('55) still holds the school record for most points in a single basketball game (49) and his 1,480 career points ranks fifth on the Johnnies’ all-time list. He is also the namesake of the arena the Saint John’s basketball team plays in today.
- Frank Wachlarowicz (‘79) remains the leading scorer in Saint John’s basketball history with 2,357 points, a total that also stood as a Minnesota college basketball record until just last season. He was a two-time All-American and two-time MIAC MVP.
- Matt Zelen (‘99) remains the only Johnnies swimmer to capture a national title, winning the 50-yard freestyle in 1999. He earned All-American honors nine times in his collegiate career and went on to compete in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.
- Tom Arth ('66) and Fr. Wilfred Theisen ('52) are longtime supporters of athletics at St. John’s and are being honored with the J-Club Distinguished Service Award.
- Being inducted as a team is the school’s 1963 football squad, which posted a legendary win over Prairie View A&M - featuring a roster that included future NFL standouts Otis Taylor and Ken Houston - in that year’s NAIA national title game, earning the school’s first football national title.