Former Ramsey High School coach receives honor

ISD 623 Superintendent Dr. John Thein congratulated Ken Bergstedt this fall after announcing the wrestling complex would be named in his honor.
ISD 623 Superintendent Dr. John Thein congratulated Ken Bergstedt this fall after announcing the wrestling complex would be named in his honor. (submitted photo)
A banner dedicating the Roseville Area High School wrestling complex after  former coach Ken Bergstedt was revealed during a wrestling meet last week.
A banner dedicating the Roseville Area High School wrestling complex after former coach Ken Bergstedt was revealed during a wrestling meet last week. (Brian Meyers/Review)

For 32 years, Ken Bergstedt taught and coached at Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville. All that work earned him a number of honors and commendations, and he picked up another last week.

On Dec. 11, a ceremony was held at Roseville Area High School to name the wrestling complex at the school after Bergstedt. The ceremony took place between the second and third matches of a triangular meet hosted by the Raiders.

At the end of the ceremony, a banner in the main gym at Roseville was revealed that reads “Ken Bergstedt Wrestling Facility.”

Bergstedt is a member of two wrestling halls of fame, but he feels this newest honor means more.

“It was nice to be inducted into the Minnesota state wrestling hall of fame; it was nice to be inducted into the national wrestling hall of fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma,” Bergstedt said. “That doesn’t compare to tonight. This is far, far more important, more personal. It means so much to me.”

Roseville Area School District Superintendent Dr. John Thein closed out the ceremony welcoming Bergstedt to the ISD 623 family.

“We’re absolutely proud to have you as a permanent part of our family here,” Thein told Bergstedt.

Bergstedt’s son Jim also congratulated his dad on behalf of the Bergstedt family.

“I know this is a highlight of Coach Bergstedtís life,” Jim Bergstedt said. “The whole Bergstedt family is proud of dad, granddad and great granddad.”

Gene Andreotti, class of 1961, spoke at the ceremony representing the students and student athletes from Ramsey.

“On behalf of your students and student athletes, this honor is well deserved,” Andreotti said.

Serving the country and coaching students

Originally from Wisconsin, Ken Bergstedt was a boxer in high school and switched to wrestling when he came to the University of Minnesota. He competed for the Golden Gophers for two years before spending three and a half years in the army during World War II.

After the war, he returned to the U of M for his final two seasons of wrestling and ended up winning a Big Ten championship at 128 pounds. Among his teammates at the university was Verne Gagne, who was a two-time NCAA champion wrestler and went on to have a long career as a professional wrestler and promoter with the American Wrestling Association (AWA).

While at the U of M, Bergsted started out as a business major but switched to teaching. After college, he taught and coached for two years in Blue Earth and one in St. Cloud before getting a visit from Curtis Johnson, the first principal at Ramsey High.

Johnson knew of Bergstedt’s coaching acumen and wanted him to come to Roseville to coach and teach at Ramsey, which was set to open in 1953.

“I had no idea where that was,” Ken said of the city of Roseville.

Prior to coming to Ramsey High, Bergstedt taught science, but that position at Ramsey was only part time. So he switched to teaching health and physical education, which was a full-time gig.

He also coached the wrestling team and during his tenure at Ramsey, he coached the Rams to eight district titles, five conference championships, three regional appearances and one state championship, in 1960. Seven Ramsey wrestlers also won individual state titles under Bergstedt’s tutelage.

Bergstedt also fought in the Korean War and was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, which is given to soldiers who personally fought in active ground combat as a member of an infantry, Rangers or Special Forces unit.

Winning not everything

Character was a word associated with Bergstedt throughout the festivities last week. Bergstedt was known for having character and passing that down to the students he taught and coached.

“I was always concerned about character,” Bergstedt said. “That was important to me. To be a man, you have to be a gentleman.”

Jim Bergstedt said that wrestling was important to his father, but winning wasn’t the only thing.

“Winning wasn’t the most important thing for Coach Bergstedt,” Jim Bergstedt said. “His main concern was for his boys.”

That legacy will live on with Ken Bergstedt’s name on the wrestling complex. And there is one extra bonus.

“I have a great-granddaughter in Kindergarten in the district,” Ken Bergstedt added. “To think when she comes over here 10 years from now and she walks in and sees that sign with my name on it, she’ll say ‘That’s my great-grandfather.’”

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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