Nelson gets another hall invite

GLENDALE — To say Jeff Nelson’s distance-running exploits will live on in area lore would be an understatement.

They already do, but if there was any doubt, it will be subsided in the next eight months.

For the second time, Nelson will find his way into the Glendale Community College Athletic Hall of Fame.

The honor will come seven months removed from him being enshrined into the Burbank High Hall of Fame as part of its first-ever class.

For Nelson, a cross-country standout, he will be inducted into the GCC Hall for Outstanding Athletic Achievement, two years removed from getting inducted as part of the state-champion 1980 cross-country squad.

“That team that we honored was obviously pretty special, but Jeff was a pretty special athlete on his own,” said Jim Sartoris, a Hall of Fame committee member. “I think the committee really thought we should single him out.”

Nelson will be joined by former football standouts George McGowan and Steve Moore as those inducted for Outstanding Athletic Achievement, while Dr. John Davitt will be honored for Meritorious Service, Tony Spino will be recognized as a Pillar of Achievement and the 1978 women’s volleyball team will be recognized as an Outstanding Team.

“I think it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done,” said Sartoris of the college’s decision to create the Hall of Fame. “It’s pretty special, we’re really proud.”

The 2009 class will be the eighth class inducted, with the ceremony and banquet set to take place on Saturday, March 7 on campus at J. Walter Smith Student Center. They will join the likes of Bob Gagliano, Donna Mayhew, Andy Reid and Frank Wykoff as part of the prestigious fraternity.

“Personally, I get such a great feeling to see these people come back to the campus and kind of relive their experiences,” said Sartoris, who was a standout football player and a longtime football coach and athletic director at Glendale college. “It’s heartwarming.”

Nelson, while leading the aforementioned 1980 squad to a state title, won the individual state championship. While at Burbank, he set the high school record for the two-mile in 8 minutes 36.3 seconds. It was a mark that stood until this year.

McGowan and Moore were both All-American receivers on the 1967 Vaqueros squad.

McGowan went on to a Hall of Fame career in the Canadian Football League, while Moore worked as an assistant with the Seattle Seahawks.

The Dianne Spangler-coached ’78 volleyball squad finished fourth in the nation, while winning a Western State Conference title.

Spino was a trainer at Glendale, as well as UCLA and other NCAA schools.

Davitt was a superintendent/president for over 20 years.

“We try to look at the whole spectrum of things,” Sartoris said. “Athletic programs need support, they need people behind the scenes. We try and recognize those people.”


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