Turk inducted into Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame


Constance Sarantos

Madison Marasco (1) and Rebecca Craddock (8) run in the 1-mile event on Jan. 26 at the Armory. Head coach Michael Turk was inducted into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in April.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Illinois head track and field coach Michael Turk was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame April 25. Turk has been coaching the Illini for eight seasons but recently became the head coach of the program in 2017, when both the men’s and women’s programs combined.

Turk said he knew he would be getting inducted in January, and the Drake Relays director spoke to him and told him he would be getting inducted when the team was at a meet in Iowa City, Iowa. Turk said he didn’t put much thought into it until closer to the Drake Relays weekend when he was informed about the ceremony and related festivities.

Turk said the low-key nature of the Drake Relays induction ceremony made it more the celebration more special for him.

“I don’t really like that front limelight,” Turk said. “For me, the process that I knew about it and was able to sit on that, and that it wasn’t a real long, drawn-out, big ordeal. It was perfect for me. I really enjoyed it.”

Turk wasn’t the only person with Illinois ties inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame. Celena Mondie-Milner was inducted as well, which followed her inauguration into the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

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Turk said he saw Mondie-Milner compete at the Drake Relays and other track meets during his early coaching career but hadn’t met her until the induction ceremony. Turk mentioned at the induction he saw Mondie-Milner compete at his first Drake Relays, where his relay team had a strong performance but ended up being disqualified.

“It was a chance to meet one of our legends firsthand,” Turk said.

Turk also said, as a coach, he doesn’t particularly care for accolades. He instead tries to keep the focus on the athletes he coaches.

The induction ceremony was a small luncheon event. The team didn’t attend the ceremony, and Turk added the team found out about his induction from other sources.

“It leaked out through our sports (information), media relations office,” Turk said. “The team found out without me really telling them.”

Turk said his induction gave him a good segue to tell the team more about the Drake Relays and Illinois’ historically strong performances at the meet. The majority of the team is underclassmen, who, going into that weekend, had competed at Drake once at most.

But the team was enthusiastic when Turk was acknowledged during the meet, and he said they had been excited when it was brought up before the weekend.

“During the relays, when I was acknowledged, I could hear them,” Turk said. “It meant a lot to me. That was probably the very best part of the whole thing, was when I heard them in the background.”


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