By Megan Flint
Photo by Ravell Call (DeseretNews.com)
At the age of four, Jaron Jensen told his dad that he wanted to wrestle with the other kids his age. Nearly 13 years later, Jensen has done that and so much more, successfully wrestling his way to the No.1 ranking in the state in the 138-pound weight class.
Of the three styles of wrestling, Jensen has been an All-American in Freestyle and Greco-Roman, and is a two-time All-American for Folkstyle.
“Jaron is successful because he hates to lose and is extremely passionate about the sport of wrestling,” said Jensen’s coach, Steve Bowdren.
Bowdren has been coaching the junior for three years, since he was a freshman at Herriman High School. Jensen appreciates working with influential coaches over the years, including Bowdren.
“(Bowdren) has helped me a lot with my bottom and top work,” Jensen said. “He pushes me and makes sure I’m a good leader.”
This year, Jensen was hand-picked by his coaches to be one of the Herriman wrestling team captains because of the belief that he will produce and help his teammates improve as well.
“The coaching staff chose Jaron as a captain because of his leadership skills,” Bowdren said. “He leads by example and has the ability to inspire others.”
Fellow teammates have commented on how Jensen is a great wrestler, “but not a typical one.” He is the type of captain that will get right on the mat with you. Cole Clark, one of his Herriman High teammates, has wrestled with Jensen since they were 10 years old.
“I’ve wrestled on a national team with him, and even if you don’t get along off the mat, he’ll still be there on the mat to help you correct mistakes,” Clark said.
Jensen is notorious for his roughness on the mat, so many people are pleasantly surprised by Jensen’s kindness and positivity.
“He’s not just a captain in the wrestling room,” said Herriman wrestler Drake Hale. “He’s there to help me in school when my grades are low, too. He’s our captain on and off the mat.”
Many other teammates have noticed Jensen’s willingness to put aside his practice time to help them with theirs.
“If I see a guy down, I make sure I try and help him,” Jensen said. “My goal is to keep the team going. I just do what I can.”
The high school wrestling season lasts from November to February, though that doesn’t limit Jensen for his training time. He wrestles year round with Bowdren, training for national competitions and he has competed in several national tournaments, as he has twice placed in the national tournament at Reno.
“If I had one word to describe Jaron, it would be dedicated,” said Mustang wrestler Dawson Burgess.
His dedication carries over to other areas of his life that have a major impact on his success on the mat. Jensen uses a meal plan he has created for himself to track what and when he eats all year long. This insures Jensen stays healthy and fit for wrestling, as well as staying at his ideal weight class.
The 132-pound third-place finisher at the 2014 state tournament wasn’t always that dedicated to the sport he loves, but one thing that was always certain – his dad has always been his biggest motivator.
“(My dad) never missed a match in his life, and until I got my car, he never missed a practice,” Jensen said.
Growing up with his “dad always in (his) corner”, influences Jensen to sacrifice the small things for the big victory. He plans to continue his commitment to wrestling through high school and on into college.
He has received a lot of recruiting interest from various colleges, but is planning on taking his time to pick the right school for him. It’s still a joke between coaches and Jensen that he would rather be competing in a wrestling tournament than go on vacation to Hawaii.
“Work ethic and dedication like that is rare to find in any athlete,” Bowdren said.
Herriman High junior Megan Flint wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah/Nu Skin student journalism program.