Former Guilford, Ill. Track coach dies at 83

Gary Wieneke, a Hall of Fame track and cross country head coach who spent part of his early years as a coach at Guilford High School, died Thursday at the age of 83.

Wieneke has lost a long battle with cancer.

On May 22, the new track surface at the University of Illinois at Demirjian Park campus in Champaign was inaugurated as the Gary R. Wieneke Track.

The nomination was a common gift to several of Wieneke’s former Fighting Illini student-athletes, some of whom participated nearly 50 years ago.

According to Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaching Association, Wieneke is one of the most decorated coaches in Illinois history,

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“Wieneke has continuously seen his Illini teams compete and win the Big Ten Championships in his 36 years as a coach of track and field and cross country teams,” the association said in a press release Thursday. “During his tenure, Wieneke won 13 Big Ten titles (six indoor, six outdoor and one cross-country) and four NCAA indoor tag team trophies. Big Ten meets.

“Putting the Illinois track in the national spotlight, Wieneke played a major role in the Illini by twice hosting the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Memorial Stadium in 1977 and 1979. Known as“ Einstein 800 meters “, Wieneke made the Illini, a Big Ten and a national powerhouse in the middle distances, most notably in the half-mile and the mile. He trained 11 different half-miles in 27 Big Ten titles,” said declared the association.

“Prior to becoming the head coach of the track and field and cross country programs, Wieneke spent seven seasons leading the Illinois cross country program. In addition to their success, Wieneke guided five of his athletes to Olympic team appearances: Craig Virgin (1976, 1980, 1984), Marko Koers (1992, 1996, 2000), Mike Durkin (1976, 1980), Charlton Ehizuelen (1976) and Bobby True (2000).

Wieneke began his career as a four-year letter recipient in track and field and cross-country at Augustana College after a three-year stint in the United States Army. A physical education graduate, Wieneke set an academic record in the 880-yard run and shared two relay records, “the statement said.

After graduation, Wieneke began coaching at Bowling Green State University as a graduate assistant, then returned to the state of Illinois where he coached at three high schools (Locust Junior High , New Trier High School and Guliford) before joining the Illinois staff in 1967. After retiring from Illinois, Wieneke coached cross-country teams in the Unity School District. “

Jay Taft: [email protected]; @JayTaft

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