Woodland freshman confident on the mat

Woodland freshman Elias Sturdevant, top, competes at the Art Powers Dual Meet at Joel Barlow High School on Jan. 12. -CONTRIBUTED

BEACON FALLS — Woodland wrestler Elias Sturdevant exudes confidence uncommon for a freshman — especially one who has to travel a couple hundred miles each week to practice and compete without teammates from his own school.

That confidence, though, means he isn’t exactly surprised by the fact that he opened his rookie season at the 113-pound class with a 12-2 record.

“I’m doing pretty well,” Sturdevant said. “I sort of expected it. I’ve wrestled a lot in youth programs, and I had a good season last year, so I expected to be around here.”

But in some ways, he’s performing even a little bit better than his high expectations. Of his dozen victories, 11 have come by pinfall.

“That’s a lot better than I thought I would do,” he admitted.

Sturdevant feels as though his biggest area of improvement has been his ability to wrestle well deeper into matches — although he hasn’t needed the full 6 minutes most of the time.

“I’ve definitely improved my endurance to last through the 6 minutes of matches,” Sturdevant said. “I’ve learned how to last through the 6 minutes both mentally and physically.”

He’s continued to improve despite the difficult schedule he endures as a team of one from Woodland. Sturdevant’s father, Brian, drives Elias to practice at Thomaston High daily. Because the Thomaston-Holy Cross-Litchfield co-op program is still relatively small, he doesn’t always get a lot of work at his own weight and has to bump up to 120 pounds.

“The experience of being a team of one at Thomaston has improved,” Sturdevant said. “I’ve gotten a lot better from everyone who’s there. There aren’t too many people at my weight, but sometimes that’s good. When you wrestle people who are above your weight, then wrestling people at your own weight isn’t as much of a challenge.”

Coach John Varanelli praised Sturdevant’s abilities on and off the mat.

“He’s a great asset, good wrestler, has good skills, he’s coming in with his own set of stuff,” Varanelli told the Republican-American. “He has better time management than most of the kids on the team because he has to fit it all in every day.”

Sturdevant is looking forward to the Berkshire Valley Tournament, which is essentially the combined league tournament for Berkshire League and Naugatuck Valley League wrestlers, during the second week of February. His expectations for that meet once again demonstrate his confidence.

“I think I’m predicted to win the Berkshire Valley tournament,” Sturdevant said.