Going extra mile leads Illinois state champ to Iowa

Andy Hamilton
Illinois state champion Vince Turk committed Tuesday to Iowa.

Vince Turk wakes up each morning and makes the hour-long drive across the northern Illinois countryside to his suburban Chicago high school.

The extra miles are part of the price he paid to become an Illinois state high school wrestling champion for perennial national power Montini Catholic.

"I knew going there would benefit my wrestling career — just like going to Iowa will," the Burlington, Ill., native said Tuesday after committing to the Hawkeyes. "This is one of those things where you have to make a sacrifice to become great."

Turk's high school sacrifice included hundreds of hours behind the wheel, a one-year wait to crack the varsity lineup and dozens of beatings in the practice room during his first year at Montini. All of it, though, put him in position to accept a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes.

The two-time state finalist picked Iowa over Northwestern, Penn and Brown.

Turk, whose brother, Jake, wrestles for South Dakota State, is ranked the No. 99 overall senior nationally by InterMat. He's the third top-100 prospect to commit to Iowa's 2015 recruiting class.

It took him some time to adjust to life inside the Montini practice room. As a freshman, he sat behind state finalist KeVon Powell, who now wrestles for Ohio. Later that year, he claimed a Cadet Nationals Greco-Roman title.

Turk reached the state finals as a sophomore, and he claimed the title at 138 pounds as a junior as Montini captured its seventh straight team championship.

"He's a vicious son of a gun and he ain't scared to fight," said Montini coach Israel Martinez, who also trained NCAA champion Tony Ramos before he joined the Hawkeyes. "If you can fight, you can get through Iowa's practice room. Then once you get through Iowa's practice room, you're ready to win a national title."