Inducted February 22, 1997
John Gianini had four standout seasons with the SMS football Bears from 1976 to 1980, winding up as the SMS career leader in rushing yardage. He was also an outstanding performer as a shot put and discus thrower for the track Bears. A native of St. Louis, Gianini was a member of the Bears’ all-freshman starting backfield during the last half of Coach Rich Johanningmeier’s first season at SMS in 1976. A 240-pound power running fullback, Gianini led the Bears in rushing in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980, missing the 1979 season with a knee injury. He rolled up 542 yards on the ground as a freshman, finished with 593 yards his sophomore season, and had 1,002 yards as a junior when the Bears rolled to a 6-0 league record to capture their seventh and final MIAA championship. Gianini came back after his injury to run for 641 yards in 1980 to become the only player in SMS football history to lead the Bears in rushing over four different seasons. His four-year total of 2,867 yards on the ground remains the SMS career record and Gianini logged 30 rushing touchdowns, the second best total in SMS history. He had two or more touchdowns in a game seven times in his SMS career. Gianini’s 651 career rushing attempts are also an SMS record. His 11 career games with more than 100 yards on the ground was an SMS record which lasted until 1996. His 91-yard run against Northwest Missouri State in 1978 is the fourth longest in school history, his 211-yard game against Harding in 1980 is the sixth best in SMS history, and his total of 1,002 yards in 1978 is the sixth best season total on record at SMS. Gianini was an MIAA all-conference second team selection in 1976 and was an all-league first team pick in both 1978 and 1980. Gianini set SMS indoor and outdoor records in the shot put as as SMS freshman in 1977 for Coach Chuck Hunsaker and finished fifth in the nation in the NCAA Division II outdoor championship to earn Division II all-America honors. His missed his sophomore track season with an injury but came back to extend his SMS record and win MIAA indoor and outdoor titles as a junior, and then finished ninth in the NCAA Division II outdoor championship.