WINSTED — Woodland freshman wrestler Elias Sturdevant has exuded a level of confidence all season that is atypical of a rookie — especially one who forms a one-man squad for his school.
That confidence was rewarded and vindicated earlier this month when Sturdevant became the first Woodland wrestler to win a Berkshire Valley Invitational championship on Feb. 9 at the Gilbert School in Winsted.
Sturdevant was the top-seeded wrestler in the field of 10 at 113 pounds. The meet is the combined postseason tournament for wrestlers from the Berkshire League and the Naugatuck Valley League, many of whom Sturdevant faced during the regular season.
“I was a little nervous but I was pretty confident,” Sturdevant said. “All the weight training I do and my offseason work, I thought it would help me.”
He also benefited from earning the top seed, gaining a bye all the way into the semifinals of the tournament. In his opening match, he earned a pinfall victory over Terryville’s Nick Zappone in 2 minutes flat.
“It started off with me getting a takedown in the first period,” Sturdevant said. “In the second period, I got on top and I pinned him with an armbar.”
Sturdevant faced St. Paul’s Evan Kowalski, an opponent whom Sturdevant has beaten before, in the final. After a back-and-forth first period, Sturdevant controlled the second frame and earned the pinfall in 3:03.
“I actually got taken down first in the first period, but then I reversed it on him and almost pinned him,” Sturdevant said. “In the second period, I got on top and eventually got a half-nelson on him to pin him.”
He admitted that he experienced mixed emotions after winning the championship.
“I was very excited and relieved,” Sturdevant said. “There was a lot of tension going through me, so I was so happy to get it done. I did feel the pressure because I really wanted to win and get that title as a freshman.”
Sturdevant next turned his sights toward the Class S tournament, which was held last weekend in Windham. Sturdevant qualified as the sixth seed of 20 wrestlers in Class S with an 18-5 record. He was the second-highest-seeded freshman in the field.
Prospect’s Cronin also earns title: Jack Cronin, a Prospect resident and a junior at Nonnewaug, also earned a championship at the Berkshire Valley Invitational championship.
Cronin, who was the top seed in the 182-pound division, pinned Gilbert’s Julian Gravel in 1:07 in the semifinals and pinned Northwestern’s Jacob Twombly in 2:11 in the finals to earn the title. His performance helped the Chiefs finish third of 14 teams at the competition. It also came a year after he finished as the runner-up in the 160-pound class at the league meet.
Cronin was also the top seed in the 13-wrestler field in the Class S tournament with a 21-2 record during the regular season.