The USTFCCCA Mourns The Passing Of Hall Of Famer Jim Hunt

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ARCATA, Calif. – Humboldt State University mourns the loss of former track and field and cross country coach Jim Hunt who passed away this week. 

Humboldt State coaching legend Jim Hunt built HSU’s track and field distance program into a powerhouse during the 1960s, 1970s and 80s, was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Coach Hall of Fame in 2013.  He was inducted into the Humboldt State Athletics’ Hall of Fame in 1993.

SEE MORE: Jim Hunt, USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame Class of 2013

One of Hunt’s prized pupil included Mark Conover, who won the 10,000 meters Division II title in 1981 and followed that up with the individual cross country title that fall.  Conover would earn nine All-America honors among all NCAA divisions, competing in a time when Division II and III champions would be invited to compete in the Division I championships.  Conover would go on to represent the United States as a marathoner.  

Hunt created a lasting legacy at Humboldt State as part of the track and field program.  In 1980, Hunt became the head men’s cross country coach. During his tenure at Humboldt State from 1967 to 1986, Hunt’s team in cross country and track and field captured six Far Western Conference Titles and produced 64 All-Americans and 11 national champions.  The Lumberjacks captured the national title in 1980 in the school’s first year in the NCAA Division II.

His impact on the school’s track and field programs resounds to the present day, with ten men’s school records during his time there remaining atop the program’s all-time record books.  

Following his run at Humboldt State, Hunt was hired as the head track & field and cross country coach at UC Davis from 1986 to 1993.  He guided the women’s cross country program to a runner-up finish at the 1991 NCAA Division II cross country championships with four All-Americans, among three other top-10 team finishes.  The men’s cross country program finished fourth that same season with two All-Americans. 

After UC Davis, Hunt moved on to Sierra College to serve as the school’s head cross country and track & field coach from 1993 to 2000.  He returned to UC Davis as an assistant distance coach in 2000 before his retirement in 2003. His indoor and outdoor track and field runners combined for 26 All-America honors during that four-year stretch.

In addition to his collegiate coaching career, he also coached the USATF Men’s Development distance and middle distance programs from 1981 to 1992; served as the West Team coach at the U.S. Sports Festival in 1981; and was the international director of distance running and racewalking for Special Olympics International. 

Statements about Coach Hunt

From Humboldt State head men’s and women’s track and field coach Sarah Ingram

“Coach Hunt was a legend, and will always be remembered that way.  His accomplishments throughout his years at Humboldt State are the foundation of our records books and his passion for coaching is the heart of the strong alumni ties that still exist to this day.  We are grateful for all the years he spent bettering our community, and hope that our efforts moving forward will honor his legacy.”

From Humboldt State head men’s and women’s cross country coach Jamey Harris

“It’s hard for me to say anything about Coach Hunt.  I’m afraid that whatever I say is going to be inadequate.  What that man has meant to this program especially, but also to the university and to the running community, it’s hard to put into words.  He’s been awarded and honored as a coach, but who he who was as a person has been even more valuable. I was never coached by Jim Hunt, but he always had supportive words for me when I was an athlete and later when I began coaching at Humboldt State.  I feel a responsibility, an obligation to uphold or at least aspire to the level of excellence and caring that he set for decades. That’s the best way I think I can pay tribute to the man.”

From Mike Williams-HSU Cross Country and Track/Field Alum 

“The passing of Jim is heartbreaking. I was lucky to have grown up and been a part of the community and connections that were all made because of him. I had my first breakfast with Jim at the J in 1975 and his legacy lives on just the same. He was more than a great coach, he was a great person. With all of the connections of the running world, the seeds he planted at Humboldt have grown strong.”

From Mark Conover-HSU Hall of Fame, NCAA Champion and Olympian 

“Coach had a positive impact not only on the sports of cross country and track and field, but also on the lives and countless individuals.  His passion for life and sport was contagious. He knew how to get the best out each individual due to his caring nature and honest approach.  I will be forever grateful to Coach Hunt.”