The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

King’s Court

St. John’s has a rich sporting history, dating over 100 years and encompassing a wide array of athletics. The university is often associated with basketball, and rightfully so, boasting the fifth most wins in NCAA men’s basketball history.

However St. John’s sporting excellence is much more broad than just basketball, and fans should keep an eye out no matter what the season is.

The men’s soccer team has been a national powerhouse for two decades, winning the national championship in 1996, the seventh title in the program’s history.

The program continued its unparalleled success well into the new millennium, continuing a streak of 15 consecutive years of making the NCAA Tournament. Looking to repeat the success of the 1996 season, the Johnnies made the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2005 before falling to Maryland in both matches.

Eleven players who are St. John’s alumni are currently playing professional soccer around the world, while many other retired professionals are former Johnnies.

St. John’s fencing has also been a force to be reckoned with in recent years, taking second place at the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, boasting a national ranking for much of the season.

The program has been led by Ben Bratton for the men’s squad and Dagmara Wozniak for the women, both of whom are world class fencers who, even at their young ages, have made a significant impact on the world fencing scene.

Volleyball had its most successful year in the programs history in 2006, achieving milestones and breaking many school records along the way. For the first time in St. John’s volleyball history, the team cracked the nations Top 25 teams, getting as high as No. 24.

Although the Red Storm were ousted by Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, head coach Joanne Persico-Smith earned Big East Coach of the Year honors.

The Johnnies also earned their first NCAA Tournament bid, defeating Albany in the first round. St. John’s season would end with a hard fought loss to No. 9 Minnesota by a score of 3-2.

And then there’s Red Storm baseball. In addition to being the launching pad for 11 prominent current professional careers, St. John’s was formerly the home as such big leaguers as Rich Aurillia, Craig Hansen, and Mets legend John Franco.

Anthony Smith hopes to soon be included in that list, as the Arizona Diamondbacks selected the hard-hitting outfielder in the 21st round of the 2007 Amateur Draft.

In coach Ed Blankmeyer’s 12 year tenure with the Red Storm, 35 players have been signed to professional contracts.

If the number of former Johnnies in the pros isn’t evidence enough, then program’s accolades are. The Johnnies have won five Big East Championship titles since the tournament’s induction in 1985, and have been runners-up twice.

The teams entry in the 2007 NCAA Tournament was the program’s 30th in its history. St. John’s also have an above .500 record in NCAA contests, 55-53, and have made it to the College World series and impressive six times, most recently in 1980.

St. John’s had another successful season in 2007, preempted by being selected to win the Big East Conference in a poll by the coaches of the conference. The Red Storm finished the season tied with the best record in the Big East Conference at 20-7 with Rutgers, with a 39-15 mark overall.

Basketball has a rich tradition at St. John’s. Fans of the university are lucky enough, however, to indulge themselves in athletic tradition regardless of the season, a liberty so deeply offered by very few schools around the nation.

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