Saint John’s University to Induct 11 into J-Club Hall of Honor Oct. 1
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – Ten individuals and one team will be inducted into Saint John’s University’s J-Club Hall of Honor on Saturday, Oct. 1, as part of Homecoming festivities.
The dinner and enshrinement ceremony begins at 5:15 p.m. in Guild Hall (Old Gym) following the Johnnies’ Homecoming football game against Concordia-Moorhead in Clemens Stadium.
Registration is $75 per person through Sept. 25 ($100 per person after) and includes dinner and beverages. All proceeds go to the J-Club to support SJU athletics.
Each member of the Hall of Honor class will be highlighted in the weeks leading up to their induction with stories and videos on gojohnnies.com. This year’s class was selected by a vote of the J-Club’s board of directors, who considered nominations which can be made by any club member.
Founded in 1959, the J-Club is a dues-based booster organization of former Johnnie student-athletes, parents and fans, and plays a key role in support of the SJU varsity programs, intramurals and club sports. Alumni and friends can once again donate directly to the J-Club during the SJU athletic department’s fourth annual 24-hour, online giving campaign – the Go Johnnies Challenge – on Thursday, Sept. 8. – 2022 Go Johnnies Challenge
Those honored (listed alphabetically) include:
-Minga Batsukh ’11: SJU’s lone three-time national champion, Batsukh (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia/St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.) won the NCAA Division III wrestling title at 141 pounds in 2009 and 2010, then captured the national championship at 149 pounds as a senior in 2011. He compiled a record of 27-1, set the program record for takedowns in a match (17) and was named the nation’s outstanding wrestler at the Division III level by D3wrestling.com as a senior.
-Troy Bigalke ’01: The MIAC Most Valuable Player as both a junior and senior, Bigalke (Monticello, Minn.) ended his career with 1,568 points, a total that still ranks third in Johnnie basketball history. In all, he led the Johnnies to one conference regular-season championship, two MIAC playoff titles and two NCAA Division III tournament appearances. That included a trip to the Sweet 16 during his senior season in 2001.
-Fred Cremer ’67: Cremer (Freeport, Ill./Aquin) was an All-MIAC and All-America football selection three seasons in a row from 1964-66, and he was picked in the 12th round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Cremer was a key contributor on the Johnnies’ 1963 NAIA national championship team and a two-way starter when the program won its second national title two years later – defeating Linfield (Ore.) in the 1965 NAIA national championship game. Cremer’s play in that matchup earned him the game’s outstanding lineman honor.
-Matt Erredge ’99: The hockey standout remains the school’s career leader in points with 171 and goals scored with 91. The 33 goals he scored as a junior during the 1997-98 season ties him for the program mark, while his 80 career assists ties him for second. Erredge (Austin, Minn.) helped lead the Johnnies to MIAC regular-season and postseason titles in 1995-96 and 1996-97. During the 1996-97 season, Saint John’s advanced all the way to the NCAA Division III Final Four, finishing third overall.
-Jon Habben ’79: Habben was the first Johnnie swimmer to touch the wall as an MIAC champion when he won the 50-yard freestyle at the conference meet as a freshman in 1976. Two years later, he became the first SJU swimmer to touch the wall as an All-American when he finished 10th in the same event at the 1978 NCAA Division III championships. All told, Habben (Willmar, Minn.) won a total of eight MIAC titles and qualified for nationals four times.
-Dave Lamm ’68: The stand-out sprinter won the 100-yard dash at the conference meet during his first collegiate season in 1966, but finished second in the 220 after a stumble slowed him down. He did not finish second again, however, with MIAC titles in each event in both 1967 and 1968. Lamm (Mankato, Minn./Loyola) was also a two-time qualifier for the NAIA national meet. The school records he established in the 100- and 200-meter dashes lasted until 2018 and 2022, respectively.
–Mike Lilly ’78: During his four seasons, Lilly led the Saint John’s soccer team to a record of 38-9-1, including an MIAC title and two NAIA District 13 championships. A four-time All-MIAC and all-district selection, Lilly was also named to the NAIA Area III All-America team as a senior in 1977, the first player at a Minnesota school to earn that honor. The Robbinsdale (Minn.) Armstrong High School graduate is still the Johnnies’ top goal-scorer with 62, including a single-season record 20 in 1976.
-Cyril Paul ’59: A native of Trinidad, Paul arrived at Saint John’s in the mid-1950s after working as a police officer in the Bahamas and went on to win a total of five MIAC track and field titles – including three-straight as part of the Johnnies’ mile relay team. As a sophomore in 1957, he won both the 100 and 220-yard dash at the MIAC meet, leading Saint John’s to its first conference team title in 18 years.
-Tim Schmitz ’78: A three-time All-MIAC football selection, Schmitz (Sauk Centre, Minn.) rushed for 1,475 yards as a junior in 1976, while helping lead the Johnnies to the NCAA Division III national championship. As a senior the following year, he rushed for 1,244 yards and earned All-America honors. He ended his career with 3,933 rushing yards, which stood as the program record for 38 years until it was broken by Sam Sura ’15 in 2015. He rushed for 100 yards or more in 21 games, the most in SJU history.
-1976 football team: The Saint John’s football program has won four national championships. But the 1976 Johnnies did it in the most dramatic fashion. After SJU jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the fourth quarter of that season’s NCAA Division III national title game against Towson State (Md.), the Tigers scored four unanswered touchdowns to tie the score. The Johnnies got the ball back one last time and engineered a game-winning drive capped by a 19-yard field goal from quarterback Jeff Norman ’78 – a 2021 Hall of Honor inductee – as time expired. Eight players earned All-MIAC honors on a team that finished unbeaten in conference play and 10-0-1 overall.
Br. Mark Kelly, OSB will be awarded the J-Club Distinguished Service Award. He led the grounds crew at Saint John’s for decades, meaning he played a key role in the upkeep of the school’s athletic facilities – including Clemens Stadium. He was a big part of the decision to install a new state-of-the-art, artificial-turf playing surface there in 2002, long before many other schools made similar decisions. He formed an enduring friendship with John Gagliardi, and his close connection to the football program continues to this day. For many years, he was in charge of the team’s transportation – making sure buses were ready and on time. He also volunteered to pick up game day bag lunches, secure heaters and perform numerous other tasks. But his love of Johnnie athletics extends beyond football. He has long been a regular at almost every baseball, basketball and hockey home game as well.
The Hall of Honor’s previous three classes are listed below:
2021: 1965 SJU football team; John Deters ’92 (swimming and diving); George Durenberger ’28 (standout athlete, longtime SJU athletic director); Chuck Froehle ’57 (football); Jim Gathje ’86 (cross country, track and field); Vedie Himsl ’38 (baseball); Jim Lehman, Sr. ’56 (football); Terry Leiendecker ’84 (soccer); Joe Mucha ’66 (basketball and football); Jeff Norman ’78 (football and baseball); Joe Schoolmeesters ’09 (golf); Gary Svendsen ’72 (wrestling); Vic Moore ’72 (J-Club Distinguished Service Award).
2019: 1963 SJU football team; John Cragg ’71 (cross country and track and field); Blake Elliott ’03 (football); Adam Hanna ’07 (hockey); Pat Haws ’72 (longtime SJU soccer and swimming and diving head coach); John McDowell ’64 (football); John “Blood McNally ’24 (football, basketball, baseball, track and field); Sammy Schmitz ’03 (golf); Bill Sexton ’55 (basketball); Frank Wachlarowicz ’79 (basketball); Matt Zelen ’99 (swimming and diving); Tom Arth ’66 and Fr. Wilfred Theisen ’52 (J-Club Distinguished Service Award).
2018: John Gagliardi (longtime SJU football coach); Jim Smith (longtime SJU basketball coach).
Check out Johnnies Wrestling at gojohnnies.com.