Mark Johnson highlights
For more on Mark Johnson's retirement, read Brian Moline's blog here.
Mark Johnson is ending his Illinois wrestling career after 17 seasons and a 203-44-3 record. Here are five highlights:
Ten top 10s
The 2009 Illini finished eighth in the NCAA meet. That made it 10 top-10 finishes during Johnson’s career. The team was at its best in 2001, when it finished fifth. The previous team ended sixth. From 1911 to 1992, Illinois finished in the top 10 18 times.
Seven national champions
Steve Marianetti, Ernest Benion Jr., Eric Siebert, Carl Perry, John Lockhart, Adam Tirapelle and Matt Lackey (below) won national titles during Johnson’s career. In the first 80 years of the program, the Illini won 13 NCAA titles and only one in the three decades before Johnson took over.
Big Ten champions
The 2005 Illini took the conference title in Iowa City, Iowa, ending a 53-year Big Ten drought. Johnson’s 2009 team finished second, matching the 2001 team. Johnson’s Illini were third in three Big Ten tournaments.
120 NCAA qualifiers
Three times during his Illinois career, Johnson guided the maximum 10 qualifiers into the NCAA meet. Six other times, including this season, the Illini had nine in the national tournament. Once in the meet, Illinois wrestlers earned 30 All-America honors during the past decade.
When Johnson took over in 1992, the best wrestlers from the state looked elsewhere. Johnson himself, a star at Rock Island Alleman, went to Michigan. But the Illinois program now gets the best from the state and beyond.