SF State Wrestling Hall of Famer Lars Jensen Passes Away Celebration of Life Will Be Held this Summer, Early Fall

By Joe Danahey, Assistant. AD Media Relations, Humboldt State (Former SFSU SID) on behalf of the Jensen Family

SAN MATEO, Calif.— San Francisco State University wrestling legend Lars Jensen passed away on December 8, 2020, surrounded by his immediate family at Mills Peninsula Hospital. There will be a private outdoor funeral on New Year’s Eve in San Jose, California.

Jensen, who was the head wrestling coach at SF State from 1983 to 2017. He guided the Gators to the 1997 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Championship. During his coaching career, Jensen coached 122 Gator wrestlers that qualified for the National Championships. He produced 62 All-Americans including ten individual national champions. Naveed Bagheri was SF State’s last national champion in 2012-13 where he captured the title at 141-pounds. Jensen coached 55 conference champions and 67 National Wresting Coaches Association (NWCA) Scholar All-America Team members. He also coached three NCAA Division I national qualifiers.

Following the 1983-84 season, Jensen was selected as the Amateur Wrestling Rookie coach of the Year in his first season as the head coach at his alma mater. Jensen was a seven-time conference Coach of the Year honoree as well as twice being named the NCAA Division II West Region Coach of the Year and the 1997 NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year. At the 2013-14 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship, Jensen was the recipient of the NWCA Bob Bobb Coaching Excellence Award.

He was inducted into six different Hall of Fames including the San Francisco State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, California Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009 and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2013.

Prior to coaching at his alma mater, the two-time All-American won the NCAA West Region 190-pound title after taking second in the FWC championships in 1980. He was a two-time NCAA Championships qualifier and was a California Collegiate Wrestling Champion and a North-South California Collegiate All-Star Champion in 1980–he also went on to qualify for the US Olympic Trials twice. Jensen began his wrestling career at Menlo-Atherton High School under the legendary coach Ben Parks. He went to the College of San Mateo, where he was named the team’s two-time outstanding wrestler of the year before transferring to SF State in 1977.

Besides coaching, Jensen was actively involved into the NWCA, NCAA Rules Committee, California Wrestling Hall of Fame and USA Wrestling.

Jensen made the transition to the coaching ranks after graduating from SF State, He was the assistant varsity coach and junior varsity head coach from 1980-93. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Physical Education in 1981, a single subject teaching credential in Physical Education in 1982, and a Masters in Physical Education in 1987 all from SF State.

He was born on November 3, 1957, in Palo Alto, California. Jensen graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School where he played football, wrestling and baseball. He married Chanda Sams on June 4, 1988, they were married for 32 years.

Jensen is survived by Chanda (Spouse), Brendan (Son), Lara (Daughter), June (Mother), Kim (Sister), Chris (Brother), Paul (Brother) and Thor (Identical Twin Brother).

He is preceded in death by Paul Jensen (Father). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a private family funeral service will be held on December 31 at 1pm at the Oak Funeral Home and Memorial Park in San Jose, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the California Wrestling Hall of Fame Scholarship Program. Please write checks “CWHOF Scholarship Program” and note on the check “Lars Jensen Remembrance”. Mail checks to:
CWHOF Scholarship Program-Lars Jensen
c/o Clark Conover
CWHOF Treasurer
1944 Meadow Glen Drive
Livermore, CA. 94551

Memorial Donations may also be given to the Lars Jensen Memorial Scholarship Fund for SF State wrestling. Mail Checks to:
San Francisco State-Lars Jensen
1600 Holloway Avenue-ADM 153
San Francisco, CA 94132
You can also use electronic payment by going to www.sfstategators.com.

Sometime this summer or early fall, there will be a Celebration of Life for Coach Lars Jensen with more details to be announced on www.sfstategators.com.

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