The 1926 Saint Xavier basketball team captured the school’s initial KHSAA state championship. This championship, the first of four in basketball, began the legacy of athletic excellence that has accounted for one hundred seventy-two team titles and countless individual champions over the years. Seventy-two years later, in 1998, the wrestling team added an exclamation point to the tradition of Tiger championship teams. By winning the team title that year, Saint Xavier accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning at least one state team championship in each of the KHSAA’s ten sanctioned sports. With this title, every banner in the Saint Xavier gym could now display the bold, gold numerals indicating a championship season. In 2001, the wrestlers made sure that those numerals would not be lonely when they added a second set of numerals to the list.
The Saint Xavier championship tradition counts fifty-two titles in swimming & diving, including consecutive streaks from 1947 – 1957 and the current record setting standard of twenty-eight that began in 1989. Marty O’Toole ’57, was an integral part of twenty-five of those championships, as both an All-American swimmer and coach of the Tigers.
The tennis program can trace its championship tradition to 1932. In that year, the doubles combination of Warfield Donohue '33 and George Trakas '33, teamed up for one of the many doubles and singles tennis titles awarded prior to 1982 when the KHSAA began its sanction of team victories. In the past thirty-five state tournaments, the Tigers have won twenty-five state titles, finished runner-up nine times, and finished third once.
While the tradition of Saint Xavier championship football can be traced to outstanding teams and great players in the first half of the 20th century, the first recognized championships occurred back-to-back in 1956 and 1957. The KHSAA began its sanction of a championship game in 1959, and the Tigers brought home the crown in 1962. More recently, the decade of the 1990s was one of tremendous gridiron success. Coach Mike Glaser’s squads won four state titles (1992, 1995, 1997, 1999) and appeared in five championship games. The Tigers have advanced to five of the past eight championship games, winning the title in 2004, and most recently in 2009.
The Saint Xavier track team, golf team, and cross country team all trace championship tradition to the decade of the 1950s. The track team won its first title in 1950, the golf team triumphed in 1951, and the cross country harriers were victorious at the 1959 state meet. As the 21st century began, all three teams earned championships in the 2001 calendar year. Both Golf and Track & Field repeated as champions in 2002, and the track team captured its third title in a row when it blitzed the field at the 2003 state meet. The Tiger cross country team has established itself as one of the top programs in the nation in recent years after winning titles in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. The Tiger golf team earned its 20th state title with a record setting performance at the 2015 KHSAA State Golf Tournament. Both the team score of 19 under par and the victory margin of 37 strokes are now part of both Saint Xavier and KHSAA history. The golf team continued the tradition of excellence the following year capturing the state title in 2016.
The Saint Xavier baseball team, with seven championships, the first coming in 1942 and the most recent in 2016, has captured the most KHSAA titles of any school in the Commonwealth. The 1988 team, led by 2000 National League All-Star Paul Byrd ’88, finished 30-5 and reached the KHSAA final four, and the 1998 team, with former Major League Baseball player, Chris Burke ’98, finished the season at 33-2 as one of Saint Xavier’s best teams ever. After advancing to the KHSAA Sweet 16 by winning the 7th Region in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the 2014 Tigers captured the State Title for the first time in 33 years. The 2016 team captured the programs second championship in three years on their way to the record breaking 7th team title.
The 1962 Saint Xavier basketball team, led by Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Silliman ’62, won the last of the Tigers’ four state championships. When the St. X basketball team won the 7th Region crown and reached the Sweet 16 in 1995 it was the school’s second trip to the state tournament since that 1962 championship season. The 2012 and 2016 Tigers advanced to the finals of the always tough 7th Region.
Since its inception, under the guidance of Bro. David Freely in 1969, the Saint Xavier soccer team has established itself as one of the premier soccer programs in the nation. Scott Budnick ’89 of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and Ray Burse, Jr. ’02 of FC Dallas are former Tigers who have made an impact in Major League Soccer. The Tigers have captured fourteen KHSAA championships including eight under current coach Andy Schulten. With the 2012 championship, the Tigers captured two consecutive titles and five of the past seven, while going undefeated in a state record 55 consecutive matches.
In recent years, Saint Xavier athletic teams have proven to be stronger than ever. Since the beginning of the 1997-1998 school year, Saint Xavier teams have won sixty-eight state championships including eighteen by the swimming and diving team, sixteen by the tennis team, eight by the soccer team, seven by the golf team, seven by the cross country team, four by the football team, three by the track and wrestling teams, and two by the baseball team. Another fifty-three state and national titles have been captured by Saint Xavier’s volleyball, powerlifting, hockey, rugby and lacrosse teams in sports not sanctioned by the KHSAA, the most recent being the volleyball, lacrosse, powerlifting and rugby state titles in 2016.
Saint Xavier athletic tradition is one that is unequaled. It relies on the hard work and dedication of athletes and coaches. It depends on the loyalty and support of families, students, and alumni. It is a tradition that is founded in the values of the Xaverian Brothers and in the unending pursuit of excellence.