For 31 seasons, Dennis Winkler made Manual High School one of the major track and field names in the state. After two years as an assistant coach at Manual, after joining the Rams' staff out of Millikin University, Winkler was named head coach and before he retired after the 2000 season, he guided the Rams to a dual meet record of 505-23.
During his 31-year tenure as Manual head coach, his teams won 18 conference titles, 16 Class AA sectionals and 132 major meet titles. His athletes accounted for 180 titles in conference meets, 102 in sectional meets and qualified for 358 State finals spots. His era produced 62 State meet medals for the Rams and seven Peoria-area records. Manual won the 1998 Indoor State Meet and finished 3rd in the Class AA Outdoor Meet the same year. Manual was 7th in the State meet in 1982 and 1997 and 9th in 1973. Every track record at Manual was set during
His final goal was the construction of an all-weather track at Manual, and he achieved that when an eight-lane track was recently finished.
Gary Trotter began working with youth sports as early as his college days at Bradley University, when he coached boys' basketball at St. Marks grade school in the late`5Os. He continued by next working with freshman baseball at Peoria High School. Upon graduation in 1958, he entered the service and in 1960 he began working at Pleasant Hill grade school where he taught and coached the boys' sports. He holds great pride in the fact that he was able to coach a state championship basketball team during his stay at Pleasant Hill.