By Chris Muskopf ‘91
For the 15th time since 1997, the SLUH cross country program earned a trophy at the MSHSAA Championships, registering a 4th Place finish in the 2021 event. On the way to Columbia, the team placed first in the Granite City Invitational, the Hancock Invitational (first championship in 50 years of participation in this event), the Big River Running Invitational and – for the 18th consecutive time – the MCC Championships. Senior Sean Kellogg finished as the top individual runner at the MCC Championships. At the MSHSAA Championships, seniors Grant Brawley (11th Place), Sean Kellogg (16th) and Baker Pashea (23rd place) garnered All-State recognition, marking the sixth time in program history that three runners have earned All-State honors. The average time by the Jr. Bills at the MSHSAA Championships, 16:00.1, is the fastest average ever for a SLUH team at this event.
With a record of 7-4, the varsity team recorded the most wins in the five-year tenure of Head Coach Mike Jones. With wins in the district round over Lindbergh and Marquette, the Jr. Bills advanced to the district championship contest for the first time since 2011. The program’s accomplishments during the season were reflected in the postseason accolades garnered by student-athletes on the varsity team. Fourteen players were recognized as All-MCC: Derrick Baker ‘22, Phillip Bone ‘22, Chris Brooks, Jr. ‘22 (Co-Offensive Player of the Year), Vince Chappuis ‘24, Tommy Etling ‘22, Luke Johnston ‘22, Louis Kertz ‘23, Zach Ortwerth ‘23, Cayden Owens ‘22, Pierston Sanders ‘22, DonTavion Sullivan ‘22, Andre Tucker ‘22, Kylend Watson-Brown ‘22, and Ryan Wingo ‘24. Eight players were named to the Missouri Football Coaches Association All-District Team: Derrick Baker, Phillip Bone, Chris Brooks, Jr., Luke Johnston, Louis Kertz, Zach Ortwerth, Cayden Owens and DonTavion Sullivan. Two players - DonTavion Sullivan and Chris Brooks, Jr., were named MFCA All-State. Eleven players were recognized as MFCA Academic All-State: Matt Barnes ‘23, Phillip Bone, Chris Brooks, Jr., Archie Carruthers ‘24, Tommy Etling, Alex Fowler ‘23, Luke Johnston, Conner Greninger ‘22, Craig Ortwerth ‘22, Zach Ortwerth, and Andre Tucker. Lastly, DonTavion Sullivan, Chris Brooks, Jr. and Ryan Wingo were honored as members of the STL Today High School Sports All-Metro Team.
The varsity team finished with a record of 23-2-1, the most wins for a varsity team since 2015 and the ninth time since 2002 that the team reached the 23 victory mark. The two losses mark the fewest in program history since the 1975 squad, led by Ebbie Dunn, went 25-2-0. On the way to the District Championship, the Jr. Bills claimed championships in the CBC Tournament and the Jr. Billiken Classic. Forward Stephen Saladin ‘22 was named 1st Team All-MCC, Player of the Year in Class 4, Region 2 by the Missouri High School Soccer Coaches Association, Class 4 Co-Offensive Player of the Year by MHSSCA, 1st Team All-Metro by STL Today High School Sports, and All-American by both the United Soccer Coaches and highschoolsoccerallamerican.com. Several teammates earned recognition as well: midfielder Evan Yalavarthi ‘22 (MHSSCA All-Region and 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All-MCC), midfielder Grant Locker ‘24 (midfielder, MHSSCA All-Region and 2nd Team All-State, STL Today High School Sports 2nd Team All-Metro, 1st Team All-MCC), defender Christian Thro ‘24 (MHSSCA All-Region and 1st Team All-MCC), defender Ben Ridgway ‘22 (1st Team All-MCC), forward Tyler Van Bree ‘22 (2nd Team All-MCC), forward Johnnie Ferrara ‘22 (Honorable Mention All-MCC), and goalkeeper Christian Lewis ‘24 (Honorable Mention All-MCC).
Swimming & Diving
The AquaBills returned to the podium at the MSHSAA Class 2 Championships with a 3rd-place finish. During the regular season, the SLUH swimmers and divers captured event titles at the Ladue Invitational, the John Burroughs Invitational, the MICDS Invitational and the MCC Championships. In total at the MSHSAA Class 2 Championships, the Jr. Bills earned three individual event titles (Sebastian Lawrence ‘22 - diving, Cooper Scharff ‘22 - 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke), a relay title (Jonas Hostetler ‘22, Jason Cabra ‘23, Ned Mehmeti ‘22, and Scharff - 400 freestyle relay), and set three new SLUH and MSHSAA Championship records (100 butterfly - SLUH and MSHSAA overall, 100 backstroke - SLUH and MSHSAA overall, and 400 freestyle relay - SLUH and MSHSAA Class 2). SLUH swimmers also garnered All-State honors in the following events: 200 medley relay (Scharff, Mehmeti, Hostetler, Cabra - 2nd place), 50 freestyle (Hostetler - 4th place), 200 individual medley (Mehmeti - 6th place), 500 freestyle (Mehmeti - 6th place), and 100 freestyle (Hostetler - 8th place). Additional swimmers scoring points for the Jr. Bills at the MSHSAA Championships include: Gavin Baldes ‘23 (200 individual medley - 16th place and 100 butterfly - 11th place), Jason Cabra ‘23 (50 freestyle - 9th place and 100 freestyle - 13th place), Benjamin Chumley ‘24 (200 individual medley - 15th place and 100 backstroke - 16th place), Greyson Mueller ‘24 (500 freestyle - 9th place), Brendan Schroeder ‘23 (500 freestyle - 16th place). Lastly, the 200 free relay team of Henry Unger ‘24, Gavin Baldes, Solomon Shelton ‘23 and Kearney Foy ‘24 recorded a 9th place finish.
The Jr. Bills move towards the end of January in possession of a 14-3 record and the #5 ranking in the large school STL Today High School Sports rankings. The team, led by SLU commit Nick Kramer ‘23, claimed the championship in the Legends of Winter Classic and won two games against tough out-of-state competition in the Quincy Shootout. Two notable benchmarks have been reached during the 2021-2022 season: Head Coach Erwin Claggett captured the 300th victory of his career on December 14 with a victory over McCluer and Nick Kramer scored the 1,000th point of his career in the Legends of Winter Classic championship contest versus Lift for Life.
The varsity IceBills ended the 2021-2022 regular season with a record of 16-2-2, securing no worse than the number two seed in the Challenge Cup level of the Mid States postseason. The Challenge Cup schedule will be announced at the end of January with the four rounds of the postseason leading up to the championship contest at the Enterprise Center in March.
The SLUH racquetball program began the 2021-2022 season by claiming the top spot in this year’s Winter Rollout Tournament. The top varsity team for the RacquetBills enters the end of January with a 6-0 record and four contests remaining in the regular season. The Jr. Bills will enter the postseason with the MOSHRA State Tournament from February 22-27 and follow that with the USA Racquetball National Tournament from March 2-6.
The RifleBills continue to be a force in state, regional and national competitions. Following a top 10 finish in the scholastic division of the 2020-2021 Nation Championships, the SLUH rifle program welcomed 35 shooters to the 2021-2022 roster, including 21 total ninth and tenth graders! The squad conducts several matches in February, including a home-and-away with Montgomery Bell Academy from Nashville and the Missouri championships, prior to competing in regionals in March and nationals in July.
The Jr. Bills have experienced a youth movement with 18 first year wrestlers, 17 of whom are freshmen or sophomores. The lone returning state qualifier, Cayden Owens ‘22, began the season with a tournament victory in the 220-lb weight class at the Westminster Chirstian Invitational. In the team’s most recent event – the Eric Lewis Invitational at MICDS – four wrestlers earned medalist status: Connor Whalen ‘23 - 7th in the 132-lb weight class, Jack Onder ‘22 - 4th in the 152-lb weight class, Alex Nance ‘22 - 6th in the 170-lb weight class, and Owens - 3rd in the 195-lb weight class.