ALAMOSA — After 42 years coaching Gary Ramstetter has decided to step down from his position as the head wrestling coach of Alamosa High School. During his tenure at AHS, Ramstetter has locked the Mean Moose into every conversation about Colorado wrestling. Ramstetter has presided over all of Alamosa’s Wrestling titles, the Mean Moose’s 12 team titles tie for the most in the state with Wray and Rocky Ford. The Moose also crowned 37 different individual state champions many of which claimed multiple titles.
In Ramstetter’s stead, Rusty Johnson will man the helm, “He is Alamosa wrestling, (he) developed the program took it to historic levels. He is Alamosa wrestling” said Johnson of Ramstetter’s contribution. When asked about the program’s future Johnson was sure to pay respect to Ramstetter, “There’s nothing like watching it being done by a guy like Ram. It’s probably impossible to emulate, I can try to come as close as I can, but there’s no way to replace that.” As the new head coach, Johnson is confident in the squad for the winter season, “We are probably starting the season I would say fifth or sixth-best team in the state, we’ve done that many times and finished way higher. I’m excited to see if I can continue that trend.”
Running the program as long as he has, Ramstetter has cemented his place in the community, influencing a large number of people including Alamosa’s second-year Athletic Director, Erik Melgoza. “If you hear the name Alamosa High School Wrestling, you’re going to think automatically of Gary Ramstetter… On one hand it’s bigger than him, and on the other hand, it’s who Alamosa Wrestling is. To me personally, me being a basketball guy and him being a wrestling coach, you’d think we wouldn’t get along but he was a good mentor to me and we had many conversations and I’ve learned a ton from him.”
Ever modest, Gary Ramstetter at 73 years old has nothing but respect for the sport he has spent 42 years coaching. “I coach for kids, every coach does,” Ramstetter says. Looking back Ramstetter recounted “When I was in the ninth grade this guy grabbed me, told me ‘Ram you’re going to wrestling’, I said ‘no I don’t want to wrestle’ he dragged me in there… the next night I was the first guy in that room. It was the most fun I’ve had in my whole life” From there Ramstetter was hooked. “I was proud to be a wrestler, I think wrestlers are pretty straight forward young men and adults, I like that culture. They’re hard-nosed kids, they never whine and making weight is tough.”
While he admits one of his regrets is leaving such a good team and good staff, the ever-difficult decision is explained aptly, “It was just time…”. And accounting for what the local legend has given to the sport of wrestling in the San Luis Valley one can hardly blame him. Given the choice to do it all over again Ramstetter didn’t mince words, “I’d do it again in a heartbeat, I would do the same thing again.”
With more free time, Ramstetter has availability to pursue other interests like hunting pheasant and helping his son, 3-time State Champion, Jason Ramstetter coach the Adams State University Wrestling team. But when asked what comes next – the answer, like Ramstetter, is straight to the point “Spend some time with my wife, and go on some vacations.”