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Multi-talented Cramer cornerstone of Warner sports teams

Warner’s Hunter Cramer (8) tries to run past Gregory’s Kade Stukel (17) and Nathan Fortuna (54) as the Monarchs’ Brodey Sauerwein (3) looks on during the Class 9A championship game last season at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Photo by John Davis taken 11/10/2022

There are certain athletes that some might call a “jack-of-all-trades” or a “Swiss army knife” due to their versatility in certain sports. Warner’s Hunter Cramer is one of them.

The senior has been a multi-sport athlete for the Monarchs, and has even played multiple roles for the Monarch football team, which has prepared him for his senior season.

“It’s really just prepared me for being a leader out here, mostly,” Cramer said. “When I was a freshman, I wasn’t the leader. I was learning from everyone else.”

All the knowledge Cramer has acquired has given him the opportunity to develop into a leader on the field.

“You just have to be the first one to step up and do stuff in practices,” Cramer said. “When kids are doing things wrong, you’ve got to help them out and point them in the right direction. Most of it is complimenting them when they do right. That’s probably the best way they’ll learn, instead of yelling at them when they do wrong.”

Cramer says being in a leadership role also gives him the opportunity to teach the younger players how to play the game of football, as well.

“I know a lot more now, too,” Cramer said. “So, I can show them where to go if they line up wrong. I can try helping them, for the most part.”

The experience has come as Cramer has played multiple positions throughout his career. He began his varsity career playing quarterback as a freshman, although Warner head coach Kerwin Hoellein knew there was something special in Cramer before that.

“It started clear back in junior high with Hunter. He was always a running back in junior high and when he was an eighth-grader the kid that was the quarterback in his class got hurt,” Hoellein said.

Knowing the team needed a quarterback late in the season, the coaching staff approached Cramer and asked him to take over the position. Cramer accepted the challenge.

“He caught on pretty well and ran the ball. He’s always been a pretty good runner,” Hoellein said. “He kind of liked that role. We all along knew that he was a pretty good little quarterback.”

Cramer continued to fill the role at the varsity level as a freshman, becoming the starting quarterback and leading his team to the Class 9A state championship game, where the Monarchs fell to Canistota/Freeman, 12-0.

The role as quarterback would be short lived, as Cramer was moved to running back his sophomore year, filling the void left by his older brother, Ty, who had graduated. Cramer felt the move was not a difficult one.

“It’s not very hard to move to running back. Quarterback is probably the hardest part on the field, and so I just knew where everyone was supposed to be,” Cramer said. “I just knew run left, run right, pretty much. Running back’s not that hard compared to quarterback.”

Hoellein said Cramer flourished at running back as a sophomore, and by his junior year was playing a dual role for the Monarchs, switching positions between quarterback and running back, wherever the team needed him the most. This season, Cramer is back where he began his varsity career, playing the role of quarterback.

“He kind of played a dual role for us last year,” Hoellein said. “Now that we’ve got some running backs that are sophomore and juniors that are capable of that role, we knew going into this summer that Hunter would go back at quarterback, and he’s done a fabulous job there for us.”

Warner’s Hunter Cramer, right, moves to the basket as Aberdeen Roncalli’s Brody Weinmeister, left, defends during a game last season at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 1/14/2023

Last season, Cramer helped lead Warner back to the 9A title game, where they fell once again, this time to Gregory, 36-23. Cramer said the two championship losses have been frustrating, yet they have helped the team moving forward.

“Obviously, you want to win and once you lose it’s kind of devastating,” Cramer said. “It builds perseverance to get back and actually win one.”

To bring home the school’s first state football title, Cramer says it will take a full team effort this season.

“It’s going to take a lot of teamwork. A lot of guys have to be on the same page,” Cramer said. “We definitely have the skill and the positions. We’ve got the depth too. We’ve just got to figure out where everyone’s going to be at and how to do all the plays.”

Cramer also plays a key role for the Warner boys’ basketball, and track and field teams. He is the point guard on the basketball team, while he runs the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, and 400-meter and 800-meter relays. In last spring’s state meet, the Monarchs 400-meter and 800-meter relay teams, which Cramer was a part of, placed eighth and sixth, while Cramer placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles.

Warner’s Hunter Cramer, center, gets a leg over the last hurdle ahead of Ipswich’s Grant Weiser, far left and Rasmus Loken, left; Ellendale’s Greg Fuher, right and Ipswich’s Nate Bass, far right, during the boys 55 meter hurdles final last season at the Fuller Invite at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 3/20/2023

Right now, however, Cramer is focused on finishing the football season strong. The Monarchs, second rated in Class 9A, will hit the juggernaut of their schedule in the coming weeks, starting with a trip to Castlewood on Friday. On Sept. 22, Warner will travel to Dacotah Bank Stadium for the Lake Region Conference Classic to face off with current Class 9B No. 1 Faulkton Area, before traveling to Hayti to face current Class 9AA No. 2 Hamlin on Sept. 29. Cramer and his teammates know that the schedule will pose challenges.

“It’s going to be one play at a time. We just can’t let them get big runs. We’ve just got to slowly let them take their 15-play drives. Wear them down,” Cramer said. “We’ve got pretty good depth, so if we just don’t let them get any big plays, we should be good.”

Hoellein says Cramer has meant a lot to the Warner football program through the years, noting that his impact has been noticed by many.

“He’s been huge for our program. We’re certainly going to miss that kid when he graduates,” Hoellein said. “He’s just been a tremendous athlete for our program.”

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