SF State mourns loss of longtime wrestling coach

Lars Jensen was named conference Coach of the Year seven times, regional Coach of the year twice

Lars Jensen, who spent more than half of his life coaching wrestling at San Francisco State University, died on Dec. 8 at the age of 63.

Over his 34 years at the helm of the Gator wrestling program, Jensen oversaw the development of 122 wrestlers who qualified for National Championships, 62 All-Americans and 10 individual national champions, an illustrious list that concluded with Naveed Bagheri’s 141-pound title in the 2012-13 season. His legacy in turning SFSU into a regional power was reflected with 55 conference champions, and the program’s academic achievements were illustrated through 67 National Wrestling Coaches’ Association All-Academic Team members.

Aside from the laundry list of accomplishments by his wrestlers, Jensen was named conference Coach of the Year on seven separate occasions and was twice bestowed the honor of NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year. He was also the 1997 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and earned the Bob Bobb Coaching Excellence Award at the 2013-14 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship.

A Bay Area lifer, Jensen was born in Palo Alto on Nov. 3, 1957 and graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School, where he lettered in football, wrestling and baseball under legendary coach Ben Parks, the namesake of M-A’s field. He transferred to SF State from College of San Mateo, where he was twice named outstanding wrestler of the year.

Jensen is survived by his mother, June, his wife of 32 years, Chanda, one sister, three brothers, including his identical twin, Thor, and two children, Brenden and Lara.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private outdoor funeral service is being held in San Jose on Thursday afternoon, but SF State plans to hold a Celebration of Life sometime in the summer or fall after restrictions are lifted. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the California Wrestling Hall of Fame Scholarship Program. Memorial donations may also be given to the Lars Jensen Memorial Scholarship Fund for SF State Wrestling. Electronic donations can also be made via www.sfstategators.com.

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