St. John’s University
Head Coach Bill Saxton – 13 years as head coach
Last years score/place – 542.5/4th
Bill Saxton enters his 13th season as the head coach of the St. John’s Men’s swim team. Coming off a 4th place finish at last years meet, SJU has had a strong recruiting class to help them once again compete for a top 3 spot at MIAC’s this year.
I had a chance to email Bill about items such as recruiting, goals, relationship with St. Ben’s, and others. Below are his responses.
Casey: What are your goals for conference this year? Do they change from season to season?
Bill: Our team goals for the conference meet remain the same for each year. We want to place as high as possible. It’s a great venue with lots of energy so it’s a perfect setting for performing at a high level. We have different goals individually for each of our athletes from year to year depending on where they are in their development.
Casey: I’ve asked some other coaches, but how do you prioritize nationals versus conference?
Bill: Both meets are a top priority. We focus on the conference meet to place as high as possible and to make cuts for nationals. There is always a focus through to nationals for the athletes who will make cuts or have a chance to make the meet. Some swimmers need a full taper while others have rested two to four days and made the national meet. We talk about performing well at both meets so it’s more about refocusing for nationals immediately after the conference meet.
Casey: Does your team do any rested meets prior to conference?
Bill: We don’t have any rested meets prior to the conference meet.
Casey: Most of your recruits tend to be from northwestern MN and/or Catholic schools. Do you concentrate on these schools during recruiting, or are these kids just naturally drawn to Collegeville?
Bill: I think it trends from one area to another. It really depends on who’s interested from year to year. Some of those students are naturally drawn to Saint John’s while others aren’t. That’s what makes recruiting fun. You never know what area your next class will come from.
Casey: You are in an interesting position in the MIACs in that you only coach the men’s team… as CSB is technically a separate school. How does that work for meets and practices? Do you train at all together? For a post meet meal, who picks up the check? You, Mike Ritchie (CSB co-head coach), or Kathy Walker (CSB co-head coach)?
Bill: Both CSB and SJU have their own facilities so we have separate practices. We discuss what we’re going to order for after meet meals but each team picks up their own bill. Our meet schedules match up pretty well. We work this out in the spring.
Casey: You ever make it to Pinestock? What is the best show you’ve seen there? Paual Cole in like ’97 was horrible. But Violent Femmes in ’96 is still one of the best shows I remember going to.
Bill: Pinestock? Ha. I’ve never gone to Pinestock. The one year I planned on attending I competed in the triathlon on the same morning. I decided it was better to lay low the rest of the day.
Thanks to Bill for taking the time to answer my questions, and good luck at conference and beyond…. and I do suggest hitting a Pinestock sometime. Especialluif Violent Femmes ever comes back.
I should also note that Bill referred to me as the “Sid Hartman” of the MIAC. I take that as a compliment, even if Sid past his prime before electricity
Casey McGovern is a 1999 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and a regular contributor to the D3Swimming.com Forums. We appreciate his efforts both in the past and with this current line of articles previewing the MIAC Championships.