Getting to know Mark Huls
Dr. Mark Huls, a Champaign and Monticello orthodontist, doesn’t just straighten teeth. At 42, he’s a dad, an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves and martial arts medalist. Here are staff writer DEBRA PRESSEY’s 10 things you should know about Huls, who this fall will represent his country in a different sort of combat.
1. He's received the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Fleet Marine Force Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Rifle Medal and Expert Pistol Medal.
2. He went to the University of Illinois for his undergraduate education and Southern Illinois for dental school, and did his orthodontic residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
3. Between dental school and his residency, he wanted to give back, and in 1999 was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Fleet Marine Force. Three of his years on active duty were spent at Camp Lejeune.
4. He was recently promoted to commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, and is stationed at Great Lakes Navy Base. Part of his job is going to Marine bases in the Midwest helping check readiness to deploy.
5. He's a native of St. Joseph, a graduate of Urbana High School, a resident of Champaign and a member of Grace Lutheran Church.
6. He is a martial arts competitor — mainly in Jiu Jitsu, submission fighting and mixed martial arts. On his long list of medals are two golds earned last year in the U.S. Military Mixed Martial Arts Championships, in both the pankration and submission fighting divisions at Camp Pendleton.
7. He also won the 2014 Pankration World Team Trials in the 136-pound weight class at Camp Pendleton and is set to represent the U.S. in October's FILA World Championships in Budapest.
8. How else he likes to spend his time: With his six-year-old daughter, Ava.
9. A former high school and college wrestler, he was sidelined by injuries and feels he didn't reach his full potential in that sport.
10. Ask him one thing he'd like to accomplish yet in life, and he'll tell you he's always striving to make progress — whether it's in his orthodontics practice or in his personal life. "Whatever it is that I put my mind to, I try do to as good as I can," he says.