The awards and honors keep coming for Roy Griak, the retired long-time head coach of the University of Minnesota Men's Track & Field and Cross Country teams and former Saint Louis Park High School coach. [photo courtesy: gophersports.com/U of MN]
Griak, who has served as an administrative assistant to the men's track & field and cross country teams for the last 13 years, was, in 1994, inducted into the prestigious Drake Relays Coaches Hall of Fame.
Two years later, Griak joined the impressive ranks of the University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame. His induction was a bit unusual because he was honored both as a University athlete (letter-winner in cross country and track & field) and decades-long head coach for both sports.
Griak was also inducted into the Minnesota Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1996, part of the first class for this creation of USATF-MN.
That same year, upon his retirement from full-time coaching at the U, the University honored Griak by naming the nation's largest cross country meet after him. The Roy Griak Invitational, boasting no fewer than 10 races in different categories, annually attracts thousands of high school and cross country runners from throughout the U.S.
In 2001, Griak was honored as part of that year's induction class for USTFCCCA [U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.]
In 2005, Griak, honored as a long-time coach, was part of the first induction class of the newly-established Saint Louis Park Athletic Hall of Fame.
More recently, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak declared Saturday, July 19, 2008 "Roy Griak Day in the city of Minneapolis."
It was, coincidentally, two years and 1 day later when Grandma's Marathon announced Griak would be a member of the 2010 class of the DECC [Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center] Hall of Fame through the following news release. [photo courtesy: Kirk Elias.]
A U.S. Olympic ski jumper from Duluth, a long-time collegiate track and cross country coach from Duluth, a legendary high school hockey coach from International Falls and a major league baseball pitcher from Hermantown make up the 2010 Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Hall of Fame class.
Jim Denney, Roy Griak, the late Larry Ross and Jerry Ujdur will be inducted in a ceremony beginning at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the Harbor Side Convention Center at the DECC.
Tickets for the induction ceremony and dinner are $25 and can be purchased at the DECC ticket office at 350 Harbor Drive, the Duluth News Tribune at 424 West First Street and Grandma’s Marathon at 351 Canal Park Drive. Tickets can be ordered by mail, send to: Kevin Pates, Duluth News Tribune, 424 West First Street, Duluth, Minn. 55802 or by phone at (218) 727-0947. Tickets will not be available at the door.
Denney, 53, was a two-time U.S. Olympian in 1976 and 1980, finishing as the top American ski jumper both years. He placed eighth in the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., the second-best finish by an American since 1960, and was 21st in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. He was U.S. champion in 1976 and 1977.
Griak, 86, grew up in Duluth, and was a middle distance runner at the University of Minnesota. He coached cross country and track at Minnesota for 33 years, leading the Gophers to Big Ten cross country titles in 1964 and 1969, and a Big Ten outdoor track and field title in 1968. He coached 47 cross country and track All-Americans. He retired from coaching 1996 but continues as a University of Minnesota administrative assistant.
Ross, a Duluth native, was an All-American goalie at the University of Minnesota before coaching 31 seasons at International Falls High School. He had a 566-169-21 record and won six state championships, and had an undefeated streak of 59 games. He was inducted into U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and died in 1995 at age 73.
Ujdur, 53, pitched at Hermantown High School, the University of Minnesota and in the Major Leagues for Detroit and Cleveland, from 1980 through 1984. In five major-league seasons he was 12-16 with a 4.78 ERA in 261 innings, including a 10-10 mark in 1982 with Detroit with a 3.69 earned-run-average in 178 innings. He was taken in the fourth round of the 1978 baseball draft by Detroit.
I'm sure I'm missing many other honors and awards but will gladly continue to add to this list as I discover more. However, with all the honors, awards and accolades Griak has accumulated throughout his years as an athlete and career as a coach, perhaps no honor will surpass the one he will achieve this coming fall. At the 25th Anniversary of the Roy Griak Invitiational, each of the top 20 finishers in all 10 of the various races, plus all team coaches, will receive a commemorative Roy Griak Bobblehead.
You know you've made it when they create a bobblehead in your likeness!
Note from TJ: This spring I wrote about Griak's appearance on The Mary Hanson show in this TJ's Turf post.