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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson

Winningest wrestling coach | Ex-Champaign Co. YMCA CEO

Leave it to an old wrestling coach to pick a practice room as his favorite spot on campus.

But then Mark Johnson isn't just any old wrestling coach. During his 17 years leading the Illini program, he rewrote the record book, racking up the most wins (203), NCAA champions (seven) and All-Americans (45).

You can trace all of that success to a no-frills third-floor room at Huff Gym, Johnson says.

“My best memories of my time as head wrestling coach were the hours spent up there in that out-of-the-way room. Coaches love practice, and it was my favorite time of the day. Whatever was bothering you went away in those two hours.

“Wrestlers love intense hard practices in a room for their preparation, and that’s what they got.”

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