Wrestling returns to Woodland

BEACON FALLS — It’s been more than a decade since a Woodland athlete has donned a singlet, but a freshman will make it happen once again this winter.

Elias Sturdevant is wrestling as a team of one for the Hawks, becoming the first Woodland wrestler since 2006. He trains with Thomaston High and competes in the 113-pound class.

Sturdevant, who has five years of wrestling experience with clubs in Cheshire and Danbury, took it upon himself to earn the opportunity to wrestle at Woodland. Over the summer, he reached out to Woodland athletic director Brian Fell to ask about the possibility of wrestling for the school. Fell then had to find a school at which Sturdevant could train, which led him to Thomaston.

“It was my overall goal for a while that I could wrestle in high school,” said Sturdevant, who noted that his father had also wrestled in high school.

Being a high school freshman can be difficult in its own right, but Sturdevant has added extra pressure by going off to compete in a sport on his own.

“It’s kind of interesting knowing that you’re the only one who can represent your school,” he said. “There’s also a lot of pressure knowing that you don’t have teammates from your own school to back you up. It’s pretty cool overall.”

He said that the wrestlers at Thomaston, which competes in the Berkshire League, have accepted him as part of their team.

“The Thomaston wrestlers have respected me a lot because of my skill level and my desire to be a wrestler despite Woodland not having wrestling,” Sturdevant said.

Sturdevant has experienced success in his youth club career. Competing with Beast Training in Danbury, he is a past champion of the Newtown Nighthawk Classic and a three-time qualifier for state championship competitions.

“It takes a lot of desire and effort to become a good wrestler,” he said. “You have to wrestle year-round to keep your skill level high.”

Sturdevant said his strength on the mat is tenacity and aggressiveness — characteristics which don’t often describe high school freshmen.

“My strength right now is being able to have an aggressive mindset and to be able to take down my opponents pretty fast,” Sturdevant said. “One of my weaknesses is getting up when I’ve been taken down.”

Sturdevant has already seen competition with Thomaston, which is the host school of a co-op program that also includes Litchfield and Holy Cross. The next upcoming meet will be Saturday against Nonnewaug.

Although he’s just a few meets into his freshman year, Sturdevant is already looking toward February and the state championships.

“My goal right now is to get my varsity letter and make it to the Class S tournament,” he said.