Hempfield wrestler Berginc pulls off shocking win in PIAA tournament

Thursday, March 5, 2020 | 9:45 PM

HERSHEY — It was a perfect first day at the PIAA Class AAA individual wrestling championships for Hempfield, highlighted by a huge upset by junior Ethan Berginc.

The student at Jeannette, which co-ops with Hempfield for wrestling, stunned Giant Center crowd when he edged local favorite and No. 2 seed Ben Monn (38-3) of Cumberland Valley, winning 3-2, at 113 pounds. Monn is a two-time PIAA sixth-place finisher.

Berginc (34-6) opened the tournament with a second-period pin of Bethlehem Liberty sophomore Javien DeLeon.

After winning the match, Berginc turned to Hempfield coach Tommy Dolde and pumped his fist.

It was Berginc’s ability to change his attack that led to the winning points. The match was scoreless in the second period, and Berginc was in the down position.

He escaped for a 1-0 lead and then went on the attack.

He attempted a duck-under move and was stopped by Monn, so he quickly changed to a dump move for a takedown and a 3-0 lead.

“I should have had back points,” Berginc said. “Last year, I lost a wrestle-off and was forced to wrestle at 120 pounds. I didn’t have a good tournament.”

Berginc went 1-2 in 2019 and dropped a 3-1 sudden-victory decision to Waynesburg sophomore Cole Homet, who also stunned a No. 2 seed in Altoona’s Matt Sarbo, 9-6, at 132.

“I knew if I pushed the pace I’d be OK,” Berginc said. “I felt I’d have a better chance than setting back. I was able to get to my offense. This year, I’m used to the big stage.”

Dolde said Berginc’s win was huge but not unexpected.

“We felt he had a good chance at winning,” Dolde said. “He did a great job.”

Berginc will face Downingtown West sophomore Dominic Findora in the quarterfinals at 2:15 p.m. Friday.

His win motivated junior teammates Ty Linsenbigler and heavyweight Isaiah Vance. Both collected first-round wins.

Linsenbigler (39-2) won 13-3 against Penn Manor junior Dylan Coleman, and Vance blanked South Fayette senior Quentin Franklin for the second consecutive week, this time 3-0.

Linsenbigler, the top seed at 145, will face Northampton junior Jagger Condomitti (36-3), and Vance, seeded No. 2, battles Conrad Weiser senior Adam Kase (36-5).

Also advancing from Westmoreland county were: Belle Vernon sophomore Cole Weightman (220), Franklin Regional junior Carter Dibert (113) and senior Mason Spears (145), Greensburg Salem junior John Meyers (220) and sophomore heavyweight Billy McChesney, Kiski Area senior Jack Blumer (160), Latrobe freshman Vincent Kilkeary (106) and senior Gage Willochell (132), and Norwin senior Kurtis Phipps (126) and junior John Altieri (138).

Dibert defeated Connellsville junior Mason Prinkey, 9-0, in the first round. While they didn’t face each other this season, Dibert and Prinkey squared off in the 2019 PIAA semifinals, and Dibert won, 10-1.

“It didn’t matter that we were from the same district. I just went on the attack,” Dibert said. “I try to be aggressive in all my matches.”

Dibert (38-2) will face Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Dante Frinzi (31-13) in the quarterfinals. Dibert is the returning PIAA 106 champion.

Kilkeary’s first win in the state tournament was memorable, a second-period pin of Solanco junior Dominic Flatt. Kilkeary (27-7) faces No. 2 seed Keanu Manuel (38-1) of Downingtown East in the quarterfinals.

Phipps (37-1) had an impressive first match, a 16-1 technical fall over Bethlehem Catholic freshman Andrew Harmon.

Weightman (30-1) overcame a sore right shoulder to pin Cedar Crest senior T.J. Moore in the final seconds. Weightman was down 4-3 with fewer than 10 seconds when he hit a switch and pinned Moore at 5:57.

Meyers, who lost to Weightman in the WPIAL finals, rebounded with a solid 15-0 victory against Easton sophomore Matthew Cruise.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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