Crider, Valentine to be inducted into Northern Colorado’s Hall of Fame
They didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back now, Jim Crider and Jay Valentine are proud of their accomplishments.
Crider, a Fruita High School graduate, and Valentine, a Fruita Monument grad, made history in wrestling and track at the University of Northern Colorado and will be inducted this weekend into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
The UNC Athletics Hall of Fame banquet and induction ceremony is at 5 p.m. on Friday at the UNC University Ballrooms. The class will also be honored at halftime of the men’s basketball game Saturday night against Northern Arizona.
Crider (1961-65) and Valentine (1985-89) will be inducted along with football standouts Reed Doughty (2002-05), Vincent Jackson (2001-04), former volleyball standout Joyce Jordahl (1996-99), diver Sabra Maas (1993-96) and eight UNC baseball teams. Doughty and Jackson are currently playing in the NFL with the Redskins and Chargers, respectively.
Crider was the first Colorado-born wrestler to become a three-time All-American in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. He placed fifth at nationals as a sophomore and sixth as a junior and senior.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time,” Crider said. “I was trying to get through school. I grew up on a farm and we had no money for school. Wrestling was my ticket to get an education.”
His junior year, Crider defeated three eventual NCAA college division (now Division II) national champions.
He was a three-time Mountain Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (regional) champion and was the MIWA outstanding wrestler in 1965. He was a two-time RMAC champion in 1964 and ‘65. He was 55-15 in his collegiate career.
“My teammates made me who I am,” Crider said. “I wouldn’t have had the success without them.”
Crider became a teacher and wrestling coach on the Front Range. He taught and coached at Roosevelt, Highland, Bear Creek and Chatfield high schools for more than 30 years. He is retired and lives in Littleton.
Valentine won the 1988 NCAA Division II steeplechase championship and finished fourth in the event in 1987. He earned All-American honors in indoor track, finishing seventh in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA Championships.
He holds the UNC record in the indoor 1,000-meter and outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase. He was on the 3,200-meter relay record setting team as well. He was a two-time North Central Conference champion in steeplechase and finished fourth in the USA National Junior Championships.
“I still run, but I’ve really slowed down,” Valentine said. “When I was running back in college, there was always someone running faster than you. I never said this was good enough. Now, looking back, I feel good about it.”
Valentine went to Western State out of high school, but left after one semester for UNC. While at Western, his coaches put him in the steeplechase, even though he never tried the event.
Grand Junction High School graduate Larry Klumb was a catcher on two of the eight UNC baseball teams going into the Hall of Fame, 1957-58. Klumb was an All-American one year.
“It was a great experience,” Klumb said. “Pete Butler was one of the greatest coaches in the world.”
The 1952-53, 57-62 teams advanced to the NCAA College World Series under the direction of Butler. The eight teams won the RMAC championship and seven of the eight won the District 7 title.