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Strong as an ox and an incredible leader, Kramer ready to spark Mayo on another postseason run

Mayo defensive lineman Ethan Kramer has set the tone for the underclassmen, having taken lessons from upperclassmen who taught him years ago.

Mayo Pigskin
Mayo's Ethan Kramer on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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(Editor's note: This article is part of the 2022 Pigskin Preview, which will appear in the Saturday, Sept. 3, Post Bulletin print edition. A PDF version of the Pigskin will be available at PostBulletin.com on Thursday, Sept. 1.)

Ethan Kramer knows how beneficial it can be when an upperclassman takes the time to mentor an underclassman.

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Kramer was a Mayo High School sophomore when then-senior Hayden Myers took him under his wing during what was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall of 2020.

Myers' leadership was crucial for Kramer.

Myers and his father taught Kramer proper weightlifting form as well as the amount of work needed to be a successful varsity football player.

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“He and his dad taught me everything I know technique-wise to get me to where I am today,” Kramer said. “There were a lot of late nights and a lot of extra work that went into that.”

It didn’t take long for Kramer to see results and soon he would joke with Myers that he was one day going to be better than him on the field and in the weight room.

Both were lofty goals. Myers was a three-year starter at center for the Spartans and held the school’s hang clean record.

Yet, Kramer has lived up to his own expectations.

He has become a two-way standout, starting since his sophomore year, but really coming into his own a year ago as a junior. He finished with 48 tackles, 11 of them for losses, and seven sacks at defensive end while also playing guard for a Mayo team that reached the state tournament for the first time since 1996. In the weight room, though, is where Myers would be most proud of his former understudy.

Mayo coach Donny Holcomb says Kramer "is as strong as an ox" and that was made evident back in April when Kramer gave Myers' hang clean record a shot. He had a hunch that he was going to get it.

"I told (Hayden) the night before that it was going to happen," Kramer said with a chuckle.

The next day Kramer set the new record of 320 pounds. More than three months later, he broke his own record at 325.
Now suddenly Kramer finds himself in the exact same shoes as Myers two years ago: Holder of the school's hang clean record, entering his third year as a starter and now with his own sophomore to take under his wing. Only this sophomore is someone he's known for a long while, his own brother, Casey.

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Ethan admits it’s pretty cool to be able to play with his brother — even cooler that they get to play right next to each other, with Casey at left tackle and Ethan at left guard.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” Ethan said. “I just remember back when we were little kids and my game would finish up and then I'd have to run over and watch him play. But it's like, he's my little child. I take him to practice. I make sure he's doing everything right for the most part. But it's definitely a really cool experience for me. To kind of see him grow into the person he is and I mean, he's a big kid, too. Sometimes it's kind of unfair, but I still have that big brother mentality on him. So I kind of still beat him up a little bit, but it's definitely a lot of fun.”

Casey isn’t the only one Ethan views as like his child.

He takes his responsibility as a senior captain seriously with this group becoming his other family. It makes Holcomb’s life as a coach just a little bit easier.

“He's just an awesome kid,” Holcomb said. “He'll do anything you ask him to do. He's a great leader, awesome attitude.”

That attitude has been invaluable for a Spartans team that is flying under the radar a bit after a state tournament run from a year ago. It makes sense after the graduation of quarterback Bennett Ellsworth, running back Noah Smith and record-setting wide receiver Cayden Holcomb, a trio that helped fuel a high-powered offense to average more than 40 points per game. Those three are all receiving scholarship money to play football at the next level.

Yet, Kramer and company are fine with having a chip on their shoulder and they intend on keeping the momentum from last year going.

“As a team we’ve talked about the underdog mentality,” Kramer said. “Just keep fighting, that's really the way I kind of view it, but I think everybody has a good mentality and I think everybody has their eyes on getting back to where we were last year and going even further.

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“You can tell while we're in the weight room. It's been fun to watch as a senior, some of these younger guys get after it, too. But state has left a lot of doors open for us and I definitely can feel that energy around, like everyone. And I think a lot of the guys have really bought into what it means and what it takes to win a state championship.”
More Pigskin Preview
Pigskin Preview '22 stories at PostBulletin.com this week:

Monday, August 29

• 6 a.m. — Rochester's Noah Borgeson, Caledonia's Brent Robley a dangerous connection at St. Thomas.

• 9:30 a.m. — RCTC's Johnathan Douglas, player profile.

• Noon — Southeastern Minnesota's "Dangerous Dozen": 12 high school players to watch this fall

• 2:30 p.m. — Mark your calendars: A game to circle on the schedule of every team in southeastern Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 30

6 a.m. — Section 1 9-Man season preview

8:30 a.m. — Section 1AAAAA season preview

10:45 a.m. — Section 1AAA season preview

12:30 p.m. — Section 1A season preview

2:45 p.m. — Section 1AAAA season preview

7 p.m. — Section 1AA/2AA season preview

Wednesday, August 31

6 a.m. — Player Profile: Fillmore Central running back Bryce Corson

8:30 a.m. — Player Profile: Rochester Mayo lineman Ethan Kramer

11 a.m. — Player Profile: Goodhue WR Adam Poncelet

1 p.m. — Player Profile: Stewartville lineman Peyton Byrne

3 p.m. — Player Profile: Kasson-Mantorville lineman Reese Tripp

Thursday, September 1

6 a.m. — Player Profile: Kingsland tight end Mason Kolling

9 a.m. — Player Profile: Chatfield defensive back Drew Schindler

Noon — Minnesota Vikings new-look offense hopes to be high-flying

1:30 p.m. — Minnesota Vikings defense getting a much-needed shakeup

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at avandenhouten@postbulletin.com.
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