‘Spartanhawks’ Ethan Berginc, Justin Cramer fitting in with Hempfield wrestling team

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 6:18 PM

When the Jeannette School District decided to disband its wrestling program three years ago and enter into a co-op with Hempfield, junior Ethan Berginc and senior Justin Cramer didn’t have a choice if they wanted to continue the sport they loved.

They had to move from a Class AA program into Class AAA, forcing them to step up to a bigger challenge.

That’s something they’ve met head-on.

Both have become big contributors for the Hempfield team, and they are enjoying every minute of it.

“Ethan’s pap calls us Spartanhawks, which is cool,” Cramer said. “It’s kind of cool because I have two communities supporting me. Wrestling in a higher classification has made us both better.”

Cramer and Berginc have met the challenges. They’re working hard, and they have specific goals.

“They meet with me every day after practice,” Hempfield coach Tommy Dolde said. “We talk about their goals and they are high.”

Cramer, one of the team captains, enters Wednesday’s WPIAL Class AAA Section 1 team tournament with a 16-5 record and 89-41 career mark. He’s placed third in the section tournament three times; the first was in Class AA at Jeannette. He placed seventh in the WPIAL in Class AA his freshman season.

“I’ve seen a huge jump in the competition from Class AA to Class AAA,” Cramer said. “There was some pressure early on to elevate my game.

“It took me a year to realize this is another level. I started working hard in the practice room, and things are starting to come together.”

Cramer competes at 195 pounds. He is ranked No. 4 behind Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Stout, Bethel Park’s Luke Montgomery and Kiski Area’s Brayden Roscosky. There is a good chance he’ll face Roscosky during the Section 1 team tournament.

“I really enjoy my time here,” Cramer said.

Cramer was a standout football player at Jeannette. He doesn’t know what sport he’ll pursue in college.

“I think both have been acclimated to the Hempfield structure,” Dolde said. “They’re just like all the wrestlers. They are no different than the other students who are Class AAA in wrestling.

“I feel they are both extremely motivated young men. They are hard workers, have a good work ethic, and I think that is more about their parents and school environment.”

Berginc said he knew a lot of the Hempfield wrestlers and had worked with them prior to the co-op.

“I didn’t feel pressure at the start,” Berginc said. “Coach Vince (DeAugustine of Norwin) really helped me adjust to the new caliber of wrestlers. I was used to it, but there was more competition team-wise than Class AA.

“I enjoyed coming to Hempfield. I knew the competition was better, and we did more team stuff.”

Berginc qualified for the PIAA Class AAA tournament in 2019 at 106 pounds. He is 17-3 while wrestling at 113 and 120 pounds. He’ll probably compete at 113 for the individual tournament next month.

His career record is 70-13.

Berginc said he got his eyes opened at Powerade.

“Once I wrestled at Powerade, I realized I had to work harder in practice,” Berginc said. “I started lifting because I definitely wasn’t ready to compete in the Class AAA level.”

Now both feel they are ready for any challenge they face. That helps No. 4 Hempfield in pursuit of a WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA team titles.

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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