Stan Wienke

Tuscola throwers coach Stan Wienke is being inducted into the track coaches' Hall of Fame this weekend. He was at the school in Tuscola on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.

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The Illinois Track and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame is a pretty exclusive group.

Founded in 1977, the hall didn’t have a class exceeding five members until 2002 and has never boasted a class larger than eight members.

And yet, the ITCCCA Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 will include two area representatives. Longtime Rantoul track and field coach Roger Quinlan and current Tuscola track and field throws coach Stan Wienke are receiving the hall call on Saturday in Lombard.

“I was honored that they would consider me,” Quinlan said. “It was a surprise to me. ... Just something I never, ever thought about. I love to coach kids and see them develop, and I just loved what I was doing and continued to do it.”

“I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t even know there was (such a hall),” Wienke added. “I was tickled pink to get it because it’s something I love.”

Quinlan is a 1963 Rantoul High School graduate who competed for Eastern Illinois’ distance running program before starting his coaching career at Centennial in 1967. He then shifted to his hometown program and served as the Eagles’ boys’ track and field coach for 31 years, also spending some time as the school’s boys’ cross-country boss.

According to the ITCCCA, Quinlan “coached athletes to 29 all-state medals ... won IHSA district championships in 1973 and 1975 and sectional titles in 1987 and 1998 (and) coached teams to three consecutive Big 12 Conference championships.”

“Fortunately the superintendent, Mr. Lynn Gibbs, saw something in me and offered me the job,” Quinlan said. “I’m no different than any other coach: I wanted to win. We did win. ... That was important, giving our best. We went into a meet to compete.”

Mitch Wilson is the current Rantoul boys’ track and field coach. Quinlan coached Wilson when Wilson was a high school student-athlete with the Eagles.

“I really wanted ... everybody to notice his accomplishments and what he’s done for the sport of track and field and what he’s done for athletics in general here in central Illinois,” Wilson said. “He’s actually an athlete in our Rantoul High School Hall of Fame, as well. ... Someone like that needed to be acknowledged.”

Wilson noted how active Quinlan remains to this day in the sporting world. Quinlan still is registered as a youth basketball official and works for the Missouri Valley Conference’s football replay booth.

Quinlan also keeps a finger on the pulse of Rantoul track and field, which has made positive strides in the IHSA state series during recent seasons. Involved with those strides was sprinter and 2020 graduate Jerry Harper.

“For as long as (Harper) went to school here (Quinlan) would always say, ‘I think that Jerry Harper kid would make a good half-miler,’” Wilson said. “Guess what event Jerry’s specializing in in college?”

Dike Stirrett is a former Champaign Central and Unity distance-running coach whose Maroons did battle with Quinlan’s Eagles when Central and Rantoul were in the Big 12.

Before that, however, Quinlan and Stirrett were teammates for one season at Eastern Illinois.

It’s in Charleston where Stirrett realized Quinlan would make a great leader.

“Roger was very encouraging and very supportive of us younger guys,” Stirrett said. “He was an outstanding coach. He was an outstanding runner. When you put that together ... he’s done a lot for the sport.”

Stirrett and former St. Joseph-Ogden distance-running coach Jim Acklin made the trip north to Lombard for the weekend. They were inducted into the ITCCCA Hall of Fame in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

“We are all EIU alumni, so it’s good to see another EIU alum going into the Hall of Fame,” Stirrett said. “He’s just done an awful lot. This is not surprising at all.”

Wienke graduated from the now-defunct Allerton-Broadlands-Longview High School in 1973. His first coaching job was at SJ-O, and his first thrower was longtime Mahomet-Seymour coach and teacher Jim Risley. Wienke eventually wound up at Tuscola in 1990 and has worked with the Warriors for all but one track and field season since.

That work, however, hasn’t occurred exclusively with the Warriors.

“I didn’t know I was maybe any better of a coach at this then anyone else. All the sudden coaches from other places were calling me, ‘Can you help my kid on Saturday and Sunday?’” Wienke said. “I look around and I think, ‘Either they’re all wrong or they think I know something.’”

According to the ITCCCA, Wienke “has coached athletes to 39 IHSA state medals. He has coached 16 boys and 13 girls to state medalist in the throws. ... His teams have won three IHSA state trophies and nine sectional titles.”

Ryan Hornaday is Tuscola’s athletic director and boys’ track and field coach. Like Wilson with Quinlan at Rantoul, Hornaday was a student-athlete when he first met Wienke.

“When I submitted (Wienke for the Hall of Fame) a few years ago, I thought it’d be instant and automatic,” Hornaday said of a man previously inducted into the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “He’s just simply one of the best at his trade when you look at throwing events in track and field. There aren’t many that can do what he does.”

Wienke’s track and field coaching exploits extend beyond throws. Hornaday knows as well as anyone.

“My wife Tracy and the girls she ran with, they’re Coach Wienke’s first champions (in the 1993 Class A 800- and 1,600-meter relays),” Hornaday said. “He really had the greatest influence on that group.”

Tim Gateley is an assistant principal at Unity High School and previously was the Rockets’ boys’ track and field coach. When Gateley began coaching in Tolono in 2005, he recalls that “it did not take long to determine who in the area ran a great meet and had some of the best throwers in the state.”

“There are two elements that I really enjoy about Stan. The first is his humble willingness to share. ... The second is his ability to develop athletes,” Gateley said. “I have always used the phrase, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard.’ ... That phrase best describes his efforts in developing athletes.

“I do not feel Stan puts too much stock in personal recognition. That is why I am so happy that others took the time to recommend him.”

Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at clikas@news-gazette.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Colin Likas covers Illinois football and high school sports at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

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