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In 2014, Roseville Area High School recognized the contributions of longtime wrestling coach Kenneth Bergstedt by renaming its wrestling facilities after him.

Bergstedt started the wrestling program at Roseville's Alexander Ramsey High School in 1953 — the school's first year — and taught at the school for 32 years.

Bergstedt told reporters in 2014 that his main goal while coaching at the school, which was renamed Roseville Area in 1986 after it merged with Roseville's Frank B. Kellogg High School, "was to develop young men into gentlemen on and off the mat. That was my main push and it worked out."

Bergstedt, of Maplewood, died from complications of COVID-19 on July 3. He was 97.

"Our family was amazed by how many of his former athletes and students stayed in touch with him," said daughter Sue Figg, who lives in Colorado. "He made so many friends in every chapter of his life. What a difference he made."

In his 22 seasons as Ramsey's wrestling coach, his teams won five conference titles, eight district titles, three regional titles and one state championship (1960).

His teams at Ramsey had a dual-meet record of 197-70-5. In one stretch, Ramsey won 51 consecutive dual meets.

"He was just a kind, gentle man," Figg said. "I never once heard him swear. He was funny and quick-witted."

Bergstedt was born on June 17, 1923, in Chicago. As a teenager, he lived in Madison, Wis. After graduating from high school in 1941, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

After his freshman year, he enlisted in the Army and served 3½ years before returning to the university in 1946. He wrestled for the Gophers while completing his degree.

After graduation in 1949, he began his coaching and teaching career at what was then known as Blue Earth High School. He was there two years before returning to active duty and serving in the Korean War. After two years of service, he returned to Minnesota and started at Alexander Ramsey.

Earlier this year, he was introduced before a Gophers wrestling match against Penn State. The Maturi Pavilion crowd gave him a rousing ovation.

Bergstedt's younger brother Tom played basketball for the Gophers and had a successful career as a high school basketball coach at International Falls.

In addition to his daughter, Bergstedt is survived by sons James, of Alabama, and Robert of Anoka; nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. His wife, Margaret, died in January 2019. They were married 64 years.

Joel Rippel • 612-673-4719