Wes Sterner, a long-time wrestling coach at several schools in the Arkansas River Valley, passed away last Friday at the Bent County Memorial Nursing Home in Las Animas. He was 86.

Sterner was born in Iowa and he began wrestling at an early age. In high school, he was a two-time state champion when the Iowa high school organization did not have size classifications.

He lived in the Arkansas Valley for many years and he was a wrestling coach and teacher at schools such as Holly, La Junta, Manzanola and Swink. He also taught at Otero Junior College.

Sterner was also the founder of the Growler youth wrestling program where he also was a long-time coach.

Through his coaching at high schools and with the Growlers, Sterner coached wrestlers for several generations which included many state champions, All-State wrestlers and all-League wrestlers.

He was a spectator at several high school events around the valley.

Sterner is survived by his wife, Lorna of La Junta, daughters Ellen (Bill) Harper of Watkins and Lynne (Wayne) Niston of Firestone. He is also survived by five grandchildren, six great grandchildren, a step brother Don Miller of Waterloo, Iowa, and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will take place on Saturday at the First Church of the Nazarene at 10 a.m.