Roy Griak served as the University of Minnesota’s cross country and track & field coach for 33 years from 1963-96.
A letterwinner in both cross country and track & field during his collegiate running career for the Golden Gophers, Griak earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Minnesota in 1949, adding his master’s degree in 1950. Griak went on to teach at Nicolett High School and then in the Mankato Public Schools before he began teaching and coaching at St. Louis Park High School in 1953.
Griak took over the reins of the Minnesota program in 1963, replacing his former coach, Jim Kelly. Under Griak’s tutelage, the Golden Gophers won Big Ten cross country titles in 1964 and 1969, and 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 & field title to his resume in 1968.
In addition to those 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 & field All Americans during his tenure, including three NCAA champions. His athletes collected 60 Big Ten Conference individual titles as well. Among the athletes Griak coached at Minnesota was current head men’s coach Steve Plasencia.
When Griak stepped off the track as head coach 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 him. Griak then became the administrative assistant for cross country and track & field.
Griak has been a member of the coaching staff on more than ten U.S. international teams including head manager of the 1984 Olympic track & field team. He is a member of the Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the University of Minnesota Athletics Hall of Fame.