Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
West Jordan wrestling head coach Larry Jaramillo will remain at the high school as an assistant coach.

WEST JORDAN — After 28 years as the wrestling coach at West Jordan, Larry Jaramillo is stepping down at the end of the season.

"I just think it is time for me," Jaramillo said. "I have had a terrific time doing this, but 28 years is a long time. I am not sure there is ever really a right time to stop, but it is just a gut feeling for me.

"I am only stepping down as the head coach, too. I will still be an assistant. I am sure that I couldn't just stop doing this cold turkey. No way. I will still be around to help out as much as I can, but just not the man in charge."

Jaramillo has had a long and distinguished career. Obviously, the school made the right decision all those years ago, but he still considers it one of his greatest accomplishments when he was given the job nearly three decades ago.

"It was a big honor to get the job while not being a teacher there," he said. "It was a time when they didn't have all these paraprofessionals. It just didn't happen very often, so to get the job despite that, I thought it was a very special moment for me."

The special times have continued ever since. He said the 1997 state championship that his Jaguars won was the highlight of his career, but said that there are so many more memories that it would be impossible to even begin listing all of them. One thing that still brings a smile to his face is running into former team members.

"I love being out somewhere and someone will come up to me and say, 'Do you remember me?"' he said. "I remember almost all of them, but it seems they all want to tell me thank you and how much I meant to them. There is not a better feeling than to know you had some sort of positive influence in their lives."

Besides spending countless hours on the mats, Jaramillo works for a pool cover company. He said that the two professions have been perfect complements of each other.

"The winter is obviously the slowest time of the year for anyone dealing with pools," said Jaramillo. "So it was just fine for them if I needed to leave a few hours early to get over and run a practice. It was great because I could be doing something I love, and save the company some hours while there really wasn't anything for me to do."

Jaramillo has also been an active part of promoting the wrestling community. He has been the 5A representative for the Utah Coaches Association for several years, and he still takes the time and responsibility to try to assemble an accurate 5A ranking a couple of times a season, a pretty time-consuming task considering there are 14 weight classes and the top six grapplers in each class are ranked.

There are plenty of young men, and even plenty of adults now, who say that Jaramillo was a positive influence, and that is what the coach said has kept him pushing the athletes all these years.

"Coach has taught me to always work hard," said current team member Justin Blackmore. "He is always pushing us and he shows us that whether you are on the mats or your wrestling is through, that if you work hard and keep fighting, never give up, that you can achieve your goals."

"I just love it when you see a young man grasp what you are trying to teach," added Jaramillo. "You can see when the light goes on and they get it. Not just what you are trying to teach them for wrestling, but when you really see them get what it is all about. How wrestling can change not only them performing, but it can influence their whole life. In those moments, it makes everything you do all worth it."

E-mail: mblack@desnews.com