One of the 2024 Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association David Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies will be held in Crookston on Sunday, July 7, at the Crookston Inn and Convention Center.

Two area wrestling pioneers, Ardell Knudsvig and Gary Brantl, will be honored during the ceremony.

The ceremony will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. with a free-will offering (appetizers will be served).
Paul Cyr will be the host. Charlie Bishop will present the award to Gary Brantl, and Rodd Olson will present the award to Ardell Knudsvig.

The biographies of the two honorees are below-

Ardell Knudsvig (started the program in Ada, MN)
Ardell attended Buxton High School, graduating from there in 1956.  He later attended Concordia College, and earned a degree in Science Education, graduating from there in 1960.   Ardell began teaching in Ada in the fall of 1960.  Ardell started the wrestling program in Ada, coaching there until 1975.  Roger Moe took the program over for the duration until the program was cut in the early 1980s. Ardell taught and coached in Crookston, MN, serving as an assistant from 1975-1998 under Rodd Olson.

Ardell worked closely with the Crookston Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving as advisor from 1979-1998.  Ardell served as the Head Girls Tennis Coach from 1982-1988, and his teams claimed three Section titles.  Ardell continued his love of learning and teaching by working with the outreach labs at the University of Minnesota-Crookston and the MN Department of Agriculture.  Over his 38 years of teaching Mr. “K,” as many of his students called him, believed and cared for each one of his students.

He was inducted into the Crookston High School Hall of Fame in 2007.  At the top of his Hall of Fame plaque it says, “Teaching is a masterful profession, we make a difference.”  This characterizes Ardell.  He truly cared for all of his students.  Ardell’s wife is Sandy, and they have four grown kids (Fred, Sue, Jana, and Rod) as well as several grandkids.  Ardell still resides in Crookston, MN.

Gary Brantl (started the program in Plummer, MN)
Gary Brantl attended Crookston High School, graduating from there in 1966.  Gary was involved in football, wrestling and track.  He joined wrestling in 1964 when the program was only a few years old, as it started in 1960.

Gary attended Mayville State Teachers College, where he studied Physical Education, Health, and Social Studies. He wrestled for one year in college.

Upon graduating from Mayville in 1970, Gary interviewed at both Oklee and later Plummer, with Gary choosing the latter.  He worked at Plummer High School for 49 years.  Gary started the Plummer wrestling program in 1972.  He had some very competitive teams until the numbers game caught up with them.  In 1980, the Plummer program combined with Erskine, and in 1982, Plummer-Erskine combined with Oklee and McIntosh.  It was a good pairing as Plummer-Erskine filled the upper weights, and Oklee-McIntosh filled the lower weights.  The Oklee-Plummer program had their first state champion John Cyr (1983), and later would have Darrin Tougas (1984) and Todd Bergeron (2-time state champ in 1986 and 1987) win state titles as well.

Gary retired from the wrestling portion of his coaching duties in 1996.  He coached football from 1970-2004, and he was the Athletic Director at Plummer High School for 48 years (1972-2019).  Gary’s colleagues wrote that “Gary always went out of his way to help others, and his ‘easy-going’ manner made him very popular with athletes, parents, fans, and colleagues.

Today, Gary resides in Thief River Falls with his wife, Sue Ann.