When Ed Kringstad retired from his position as Bismarck State College athletic director in 1999, he recounted how as a child he used to roll tires through the snow.
“An imprint would be left behind, and after a while it would dissipate,” he said.
The imprint that Kringstad, who died Saturday at age 76, leaves behind will last much longer.
Kringstad is survived by his wife, Faye, and children Thomas and Sommer. He was preceded in death by his son, Timothy.
Kringstad was a five-sport athlete at Valley City State University. He was also a Hall of Fame wrestling coach and a state senator. He was a builder and an antique collector, even a dance instructor.
“Ed was successful at doing so many things,” said Ed Hasche, the former Mystic football coach and Kringstad’s friend since their days as teammates at Valley City State. “He had that knack and character in his life, but he also had the personality to be a friend to all.”
Current BSC athletic director Buster Gilliss was hired by Kringstad to be the Mystics’ basketball coach and eventually succeeded him as athletic director. Gilliss described Kringstad as a considerate people person.
“Ed is going to be deeply missed,” he said. “He was one of a kind. He was a generous and caring individual. He taught me a lot about people. I’m really appreciative of the time I got to work under him.”
Kringstad was originally from Hoople. He went to Valley City State where, incredibly, he participated in football, wrestling, basketball, cross country and track. He was inducted into the Viking Hall of Fame.
Ken Schatz, another former college teammate who remained a lifetime close friend of Kringstad’s, remembers a football game against Minot State Teachers College and their star — future Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown.
“I played offense, but Ed was a defensive end,” Schatz said. “They got to about our 10-yard line, and Dale said, ‘I’m coming over right tackle.’
“He called out where the play was going, and he was cocky enough to not lie,” Schatz recalled with a chuckle. “They didn’t score. We stuffed him.”
Kringstad graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Valley City State, then earned his masters from the University of North Dakota. He went to Elgin, Ill., to coach for two seasons, then landed the position of head wrestling coach at what was then known as Bismarck Junior College in 1965.
During his 23 years at the helm, Kringstad’s teams compiled a 309-65-1 record in duals, including many matches against four-year schools. The Mystics won 15 conference titles. BJC had 14 top-10 finishes at nationals, including two runner-up showings, and produced 10 individual national champions.
Kringstad was named the national junior college coach of the year three times and was inducted into the NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1978.
In 1968 Kringstad added athletic director to his list of responsibilities, remaining in that post until 1999.
He tackled the job with the same work ethic he brought to all facets of his life. When work began to clear the site that eventually became the Community Bowl, Kringstad was out there removing rocks by hand and moving bleachers.
When barriers were
needed for the steeplechase, Kringstad built them
“If you wanted to park a tank on them, you could have,” Hasche said. “Whatever he did, he did it well.”
Kringstad also brought a light touch with his sense of humor. Gilliss recalled the time early in his tenure when BJC’s star player missed the bus for a trip to a regional tournament in Wisconsin. According to team rules, the player would have to sit out the game.
Kringstad loaded the player in his Plymouth
Horizon and raced to catch the bus, going fast enough that the player later told Gilliss that the old car was shaking.
“Ed told me, ‘I’m not going to tell you how to coach your team, but you never leave behind a guy who scores 35 points a game,’” Gilliss said with a laugh.
Gilliss said that Kringstad also gave him more serious insight into being a successful AD and coach.
“He really taught me that student-athletes are more important than anything else,” Gilliss said. “He found a way to take care of them and their needs. He was good to all of them.”
Gilliss said the toughest part of Kringstad’s tenure was the decision to shut down the wrestling program in 1998. In BSC’s final outing, future UFC and WWE star Brock Lesnar won a national heavyweight champion. Gilliss said Kringstad took it upon himself to make the call so his successor wouldn’t be given the unenviable task.
“It was a very tough thing for him to do, but he felt he had to do it,” Gilliss said.
Kringstad had plenty of interests outside of sports.
He served in the North Dakota Senate from 1995 until 2006. He taught dancing at BSC. He built a house on Lake Isabel.
“He did pretty much everything himself,” Schatz said. “He was not afraid of anything, not afraid to fail.”
Kringstad’s friends described a man who was successful in all facets of life.
“Ed had the personality, the desire and the determination to excel and take care of his family,” Hasch said. “He did all these things.”
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Bismarck’s First Presbyterian Church, 214 E. Thayer Ave. Visitation will be Tuesday from 4 to 9 p.m. at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway. A time of sharing will begin at 7 p.m.