Hempfield’s Berginc pulls off big upset to highlight Day 1 of Southwest Regional wrestling

Friday, March 1, 2019 | 10:25 PM

When Shaler senior Ryan Sullivan was forced to drop out of the WPIAL/PIAA Class AAA Southwest Regional tournament because of a broken hand, it gave an underdog wrestler an opportunity to earn a trip to the PIAA championship in the 120-pound weight class.

Hempfield sophomore Ethan Berginc, who attends Jeannette as part of a co-op, seized that opportunity Friday when he stunned second-seeded Cole Homet of Waynesburg in the quarterfinals at Canon-McMillan.

Sullivan, the returning WPIAL and PIAA 113-pound champion, was originally seeded first. But when he dropped out the WPIAL wrestling slid everyone up a spot in the bracket. Berginc moved from eighth to seventh and Homet third to second.

Berginc (26-12) was able to fend off Homet’s attack and record a first-period takedown. Berginc allowed two escapes to Homet to tie the match, but late in the sudden-death overtime period, Berginc hit a duck-under move to secure his second takedown and a 4-2 victory.

Homet (37-7) was stunned by the loss. The freshman had defeated Berginc, 7-2, in the WPIAL team tournament.

“I stuck with my offense,” Berginc said. “I knew my preparation and hard work after practice would pay off some time. I knew the double was there at the beginning. I couldn’t hit it in the last match against him during the team tournament, but I knew if I kept pushing the pace he’d break.”

Berginc said didn’t care that Homet had such a good reputation.

“I don’t care about rankings,” Berginc said. “I just go out and wrestle the best I can. Some matches I’ll off days, you get better as you wrestle.”

After getting the winning takedown, Berginc jumped out and pumped his fists in celebration. It was his biggest win of his career.

Now, he needs one win Saturday to earn a trip to Hershey.

“It felt amazing after being dominated by him the last match,” Berginc said. “If you get the first takedown in a match, you usually win 90 percent of the time because you break them. I just have to continue to push the pace.”

Berginc will face No. 3-seeded Logan Seliga (29-6) of Belle Vernon in the 11:30 a.m. semifinals.

“Ethan has been coming along so hard at the end of the year,” Hempfield coach Tommy Dolde said. “He’s one of our hardest workers in the room. He’s peaking at the right time.”

Dolde said he could tell Homet was getting frustrated because he usually scores a lot of points. He said the longer the match went, the tighter the other kid got.

“That kid is a goer,” Dolde said. “He’s used to taking guys and getting head of guys. Ethan didn’t allow that to happen and he put himself in a position to win,”

Berginc reach the quarterfinals by defeating Mats sophomore Anthony Maiure, 17-3.

Hempfield and Seneca Valley each advanced five wrestlers to the semifinals.

The other Spartans to move on were Burkholder (113), sophomore Ty Linsenbigler (138), junior Dillon Ferretti (220) and sophomore heavyweight Isaiah Vance.

Burkholder (29-6) recorded two quick pins and will face Canon-McMillan junior Jimmy Baxter (32-11) in the semifinals.

Linsenbigler (34-4) defeated Chartiers Valley junior Cody Trout and Connellsville senior Dylan Ross to earn a match with Seneca Valley junior Drew Vlasnik (31-9).

Ferretti (30-8) will face Norwin junior Ryan Weinzen (30-4), who easily won his two matches.

Vance (29-3) had a 31-second pin of Indiana sophomore Tanner Smith and then edged Canon-McMillan junior Giomar Ramos, 3-1. He gets Mt. Lebanon senior Nathan Hoaglund (30-7).

Norwin and Franklin Regional each advanced three wrestlers to the semifinals.

Joining Weinzen from Norwin were Kurtis Phipps (120) and John Altieri (132). The Panthers to move on were Carter Dibert (106), Finn Solomon (113) and Colton Camacho (126).

Two Belle Vernon wrestlers survived Day 1: Seliga and Scott Joll (182).

Trent Patrick (220) was the only Greensburg Salem to stay alive in the winner’s bracket.

Latrobe had two advance: junior Gabe Willochell (132) and freshman Jack Pletcher, who defeated No. 3 seed Ian Ewing of Greensburg Salem, 5-2. Penn-Trafford senior Nick Coy (138) advanced to the semifinals as he looks for his first WPIAL title and his fourth trip to the state tournament.

Action resumes with the consolation round at 10 a.m. The finals are slated for 5 p.m.

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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