San Francisco State Hall of Famer, national champion coach Lars Jensen passes away

Lars Jensen was affiliated with San Francisco State for four decades (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco State wrestling legend Lars Jensen passed away on Tuesday, surrounded by family.

One of the most decorated Gators in history, Coach Jensen led the first-ever NCAA Division II national championship team at SF State in 1997. He was inducted into six different halls of fame. In 2004, he was inducted into the San Francisco State Athletics Hall of fame; in 2009, Jensen was inducted into the California Wrestling Hall of Fame; and in 2013, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"The great impact of the loss of Coach Jensen goes far and wide. His contributions and dedication to Gator Athletics, the wrestling world, and the countless lives of students, professors, and staff in the SF State community and beyond is immeasurable," said Director of Athletics Stephanie Shrieve-Hawkins. "Gator Athletics sends sincere condolences to his wife Chanda, their two children Brendan and Lara, and his family and friends. Rest peacefully to a legendary man."

Jensen began as a student-athlete and finished as a coach at San Francisco State. He took the reins of SF State wrestling prior to the 1983-84 season and concluded his head coaching career in 2016-17. He coached three Division I national qualifiers. Under Jensen, the Gators had a wrestler qualify for the National Championships 122 times and produced 62 All-Americans. In 2012-13, Naveed Bagheri made his fourth appearance to the tournament and went on to grab the national championship title at 141 pounds, becoming Jensen's tenth individual national champion. Jensen had 55 conference champions and 67 NWCA All-Academic team members.

Coach Jensen began his wrestling career at the College of San Mateo, where he was named the team's outstanding wrestler for two seasons before transferring to San Francisco State in 1977. A two-time letter-winner for the Gators, Coach Jensen qualified for the 1980 NCAA Division II Championships after capturing the West Regional title at 190 pounds. Later that year, he also participated in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Coach Jensen then made the transition to the coaching ranks, serving as San Francisco State assistant varsity coach and junior varsity head coach from 1980-83. He received a 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 San Francisco State.

Following the 1983-84 season, his first season as head coach of the Gators, Coach Jensen was selected as Amateur Wrestling Rookie Coach of the Year and was honored as a conference Coach of the Year seven times. He was also named the NCAA West Region Coach of the Year twice and was voted as the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 1997.

Further details regarding remembrance services will be announced by the family at a later date.


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