The University of St. Thomas has won seven NCAA Division III national championships in team sports in the 2000s. The Tommies have received assistance with all seven from athletes at Cretin-Derham Hall, the high school located 2 ½ miles to the southeast in leafy St. Paul.
These were the titles and the contribution from Raiders.
2001 BASEBALL: Lefthander Brian Whinnery went all 9 innings in the title game vs. Marietta. Infielder Jake Mauer was a senior All-America. He holds the MIAC career record with 243 hits in 187 games. To add to the glory, Whinnery was a transfer from the rival, St. John’s.
2004 and 2005 SOFTBALL: Nikki Conway was a hitting standout and catcher for the back-to-back champs. She graduated in 2006 as a three-time All-America and has the MIAC record with 49 home runs.
2009 BASEBALL: Matt McQuillan was the leadoff hitter and center fielder Louie Salmen was the starting second baseman. The Tommies came out of the losers bracket and beat Wooster twice – including 3-2 in 11 innings in Game 2-- on the last day.
2011 MEN’S BASKETBALL: Tommy Hannon was the starting center and John Nance was a super sub. The D-III championship was the first for the Tommies in men’s basketball, and came in Steve Fritz’s 31st and last season as head coach.
2012 VOLLEYBALL: This was the sophomore season for Kelly Foley, who was a three-time All-America and three-time MIAC Player of the Year. The Tommies were 40-1 and closed with a 35-match winning streak, including a rally from down 2-0 in final vs. Calvin [Mich.].
2016 MEN’S BASKETBALL: Seniors Taylor Montero and Cortez Tillman were starters in the Tommies’ three-guard backcourt. Montero was named the MVP of the final four, hitting 13 of 22 shots and scoring 41 points in the victories over Christopher Newport and Benedictine [Ill].
St. Thomas won an 11th straight MIAC regular-season title and then was upset by St. Olaf in the playoff finals. The Tommies received an at-large bid to the D-III tournament and won six games, including against teams rated Nos. 1, 2 and 4 in the country.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Cretin-Derham Hall coaching connections to the national titles:
*Dennis Denning went from big success as the baseball coach at Cretin-Derham Hall to big success at St. Thomas. He was the coach of the title teams in 2001 and 2009 (his last season).
*John Tschida, a graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall, remains the softball coach. He won a national title at St. Mary’s, before being hired at St. Thomas.
*John Tauer, a CDH grad, won the men’s basketball title in his fifth season as head coach. Mike Keating, another CDH graduate, is a Tauer assistant