The University of Minnesota’s legendary cross country/track coach Roy Griak will be inducted into yet another Hall of Fame this evening, this time in his hometown of Duluth, Minn. Griak is one of four sports figures to be inducted into the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC) Hall of Fame at the DECC’s Harbor Side Convention Center.
Griak, 86, has a number of Hall of Fame honors on his resume including the M Club Hall of Fame, the Drake Relays Hall of Fame, the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Griak is in his 15th season as the Golden Gophers’ full-time track and field/cross country administrative assistant. He had previously served as Minnesota’s cross country and track & field coach for 33 years from 1963-1996.
A letterwinner in both cross country and track and field during his collegiate running career for the Golden Gophers, Griak earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the U of M in 1949, adding his master’s degree in 1950. Griak went on to teach at Nicolett High School and then at the Mankato Public Schools before he began teaching and coaching at St. Louis Park High School in 1953.
Griak took over the reign of the Minnesota program in 1963, replacing his old coach Jim Kelly.
Griak led the Golden Gophers to Big Ten cross country titles in 1964 and 1969. His 1968 cross country squad finished second at the Big Ten meet and placed fourth at the NCAA Championships. Griak added a Big Ten track and field title to his resume in 1968.
In addition to three Big Ten titles, his cross country squads produced three second-place and seven third-place finishes in league meets. Overall, he coached a total of 47 cross country and track and field All-Americans during his tenure, including three NCAA champions. His athletes collected 60 Big Ten Conference individual titles as well.
When Griak stepped off the track for the last time in 1996, Minnesota honored its legendary coach by naming the nation’s largest annual cross country meet, formerly the Minnesota Invitational, after Griak. Griak then became the administrative assistant for cross country and track & field.
As the track and field and cross country administrative assistant, Griak takes care of scheduling, budget and equipment duties. He also plans special events and projects, fundraisers and acts as a liaison to the administration.
The Roy Griak Invitational, one of the nation’s largest cross country meets, will celebrate its 25th annual event on Sept. 25.