400m runners shine on Saturday
Majority to Baton Rouge, select squad to California
One Illini sets meet record; two tie
Orange and Blue will travel to Macomb, Ill., for meet
Three Orange and Blue crack school's top-10
Photos from the Illini Open on Jan. 12, 2013
Mike Turk was named the head coach of the Illinois men's track and field in June 2011 following a two-year stint as interim head coach. Turk is in his seventh season overall at the University of Illinois coaching the jumps, throws and multi-events. He is well known as one of the top field event coaches in the country and is especially heralded for his development of athletes in the throwing events. Beginning with the 2011-12 season, he will also coach the women's throws events at Illinois.
Turk has accumulated over 20 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, including 18 years at the NCAA Division I level. In his career, Turk has coached All-Americans in nine different events, including the long jump, triple jump, high jump, shot put, weight throw, hammer throw, discus, decathlon and 800m.
In the 2012 season, Turk led the squad to the program's highest finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1988. The Orange and Blue finished T-11th with 20 points, marking the best finish since the '88 season where they placed seventh. The Illini earned four All-America honors and senior Andrew Riley won NCAA titles in the 100m and 110m hurdles. Riley became the first male athlete in the NCAA to win those two events in the same year. He was named USTFCCCA National Track Athlete of the Year and won Illinois' Dike Eddleman Award. Indoors, the team finished T-13th which was also the highest finish by an Illinois squad since 1995 where they tied for fourth in the nation. Overall, the squad boasted three Big Ten Champions outdoors, with Riley winning the 100m/110m hurdles and the 4x100m relay while Riley also took the 60m and 60m hurdles conference crown indoors. The squad set 14 top-10 indoor times in Illinois record books and 10 times in the outdoor record books.
Turk led the Illini to the program's best finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 23 years during the 2011 season. The Illini tied for 12th overall, marking the highest finish by an Illini squad since placing seventh in 1988. The Illini earned seven first-team All-America honors and one second-team award for their performances at nationals, including a third-place finish by the 4x100m relay, a runner-up showing by Andrew Riley in the 110m hurdles, a sixth-place finish by Stanley Azie in the 100m and an eighth-place effort in the 400m hurdles by Cody Wisslead. The Orange and Blue also boasted three Big Ten Champions, with Riley in the 110m hurdles, Wisslead in the 400m hurdles and the 4x100m relay.
During the 2011 indoor season, the Illini tied for 22nd at nationals, the highest indoor finish by an Illinois squad since 1998 (17th). Riley won his second career national title, as he raced to victory in the 60m hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Freshman Davis Fraker, who broke the school record in his first collegiate throw, was the first Illini ever to qualify for nationals in the weight throw and earned second-team All-American honors. Riley also competed a three-peat in the event by winning the 60m-hurdle title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships while Matt Bane captured the Big Ten title in the pole vault.
In his first year as interim head coach in 2010, Turk worked to change the culture of the program and made great strides from the indoor to the outdoor season, which was capped off by a national title in the 110m hurdles by Andrew Riley. Turk's squad qualified 16 athletes to the West Preliminary Round of Championship and advanced in three events to the NCAA Championships, with Riley in the 110m hurdles, junior Cody Wisslead in the 400m hurdles and the 4x100m relay. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, the Illini turned in their best conference finish since 2006, as they placed sixth overall. Turk also coached junior Matt McHugh into the record books again, as the Exter, N.H., native recorded school records during the indoor and outdoor seasons. McHugh smashed the school record in the weight throw with a mark of 63-2 3/4 (19.27m) and broke his own school record in the hammer throw twice, tallying a personal-best mark of 202-10 (61.83m).
During the 2009 season, Turk coached a pair of athletes who altered Illinois records that had stood for 30 years. Junior Greg Shroka placed sixth in the high jump with a personal-best height of 7 feet, 1 1/2 inches (2.17m) at the NCAA Outdoor Championships to become the first Fighting Illini outdoor All-American in the event since Gail Olson took fifth in 1979. McHugh broke Bob Carper's school record of 187-4 set three decades ago when he marked 190-4 (58.02m) in the hammer throw at the Illinois Invitational. Along with those record-setting marks, Turk also guided junior Casey Fonnesbeck to a sixth-place finish in the shot put at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, where he also qualified for the NCAA Mideast Regionals with a personal-best distance of 57-3 ¾.
Fighting Illini field event athletes also achieved a number of milestones in 2008 under Turk, as Shroka became just the third athlete in Illinois history to leap over seven feet in the high jump, marking 7-0 1/4 at the Illinois Twilight. Shroka went on to earn All-Mideast Region honors, narrowly missing a trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships and scoring at both the Big Ten indoor and outdoor meets. In the throwing events, Fonnesbeck earned a trip to regionals and scored at the Big Ten outdoor meet in the shot put with a mark of 57-1 that ranks 10th in Illinois history. In addition, multi-event athlete Andrew Zollner moved up to second on the Illini all-time list in the decathlon, with a personal-best point total of 6,776 points at the Big Ten Championships.
In 2007 under Turk, Nick Brown continued his success at the conference championships by finishing second in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and third in both events at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Brown also competed in the long and triple jumps at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships. Turk helped guide Shroka to a successful rookie campaign, as he scored as a redshirt freshman at the Big Ten Championships and qualified for the regional championships. Zollner also came on strong, taking sixth in the decathlon and ninth in the heptathlon at the confrence meets. In addition, Chad Gridley improved his personal-best in the discus by over 20 feet.
Turk made an immediate impact with the Fighting Illini in his first year with the program in 2006. His athletes crashed the record books, with nine all-time top-10 performances in Illini history, with the season highlighted by the outstanding achievements of Brown. Under Turk's leadership, Brown was an NCAA Championships qualifier in both the long and triple jumps during the indoor season and in the triple jump during the outdoor season, earning All-America honors in the long jump indoor and the triple jump outdoor.
Prior to coming to Illinois, Turk spent six years coaching the men's track and field and cross country program at Western Michigan University. As head coach, he led the 2003 Broncos to a top-20 ranking in the NCAA Division I Team Power Ranking (USTCA). Turk was named the 2003 Central Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in cross country and the 2004 Central Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year in outdoor track. In six years at Western Michigan, Turk coached two All-Americans, three school record holders, seven NCAA Qualifiers, a conference record holder and All-Mid American Conference performers in the long jump, triple jump, high jump, shot put, discus, hammer and decathlon.
Prior to joining Western Michigan's program, Turk was the assistant coach for both Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's men's and women's track and field programs. While at Marquette, Turk coached several All-Americans and NCAA Championships qualifiers, including the school's first-ever women's indoor NCAA qualifier and first-ever men's indoor NCAA All-American. Upon his departure from Marquette, Turk's athletes had set 27 school records. While at UW-Milwaukee, Turk coached numerous NAIA All-Americans including the 1989 NAIA outdoor 800m national champion.
Turk is a USATF Level III certified coach in the jumps and throws and as an instructor. He is a part of the USATF Coaches Education Level II staff, helping co-author the USATF Level II Throws curriculum and serving as the combined events chairperson. Turk is a popular clinician and has spoken at numerous clinics throughout the country. He is also a lead instructor at the prestigious Ironwood Throws Development Camp, organized the King of the Ring Throws Clinic and has authored several articles.
As a student-athlete at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., Turk received his bachelor's degree in Physical Education in 1985 and competed on the varsity track and field team. He was the 1984 CCIW Conference Champion in the shot put.
Turk and his wife, Lori, reside in Mahomet and have three children, daughters Hannah and Payton and a son, Sam.
Updated August 2011