Prospect’s Cronin cruises to state wrestling title

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Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin, left, of Prospect, and Woodland’s Elias Sturdevant are pictured after the Class S state wrestling championships Feb. 22 at Killingly High. Cronin won the title in the 182-pound class. Sturdevant finished fifth in the 120-pound division. Both wrestlers advanced to the State Open. –CONTRIBUTED

KILLINGLY — As was the case all season, nobody could touch Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin at the Class S state championships.

The Prospect resident breezed through the 182-pound class Feb. 21-22 at Killingly High, winning his second consecutive state title. Despite victories that looked simple on the scoresheet, Cronin maintained that it was a challenging tournament.

“I thought the tournament was a very good test of my skills with many tough competitors,” Cronin said.

Cronin went 4-0 on the day, boosting his season record to 23-0 and earning his 100th career victory in the process. His pinfall victories in the first two rounds took a combined 98 seconds.

In the semifinal against Haddam-Killingworth’s Matthew Carson, Cronin needed a little bit more time — 3 minutes, 30 seconds — before he held Carson’s shoulders to the mat. Cronin defeated Plainville’s Esteban Torres to win the state title in just 33 seconds.

“They started strong,” Cronin said of his last two opponents. “My strategy was to use my best moves that I’m confident in. I pinned using my strength and technique.”

Cronin was the top seed in the 182-pound class at the State Open, which is for Friday and Saturday in New Haven. Cronin is trying to avenge a loss in the State Open final during his junior season. A top-six placement in the State Open would give Cronin a repeat trip to the New England championships next weekend in Methuen, Mass.

Although remaining businesslike with lofty goals — including bettering his top-12 finish at last year’s regional meet — Cronin said he appreciates the success he’s experienced since this is his last postseason as a high school wrestler.

“I just go on the mat and wrestle because I have fun with it,” Cronin said. “Winning (a State Open or New England championship) would be nice, but New Englands is more fun to me than a (normal) tournament. It’s the last tournament of the season, and I just want to have fun and not take things too seriously.”

Sturdevant makes State Open: Woodland sophomore Elias Sturdevant wanted a return trip to the State Open. He made it happen.

Sturdevant placed fifth in the Class S tournament — one spot better than he achieved as a freshman — and earned a spot in the State Open’s 120-pound division.

Entering as the fifth seed, Sturdevant won his opening match over Gilbert’s Jonathan Fagan by pinfall in 5:57. Sturdevant suffered a 10-4 decision defeat to Griswold’s Tyler Arsenault, but the sophomore rebounded in the consolation bracket. He picked up a pair of victories to reach the consolation semifinals, where he dropped an 8-4 decision to eventual bronze medalist Elijah Vertefeuille of Windham.

Once again, though, Sturdevant rallied in his fifth-place match against Ledyard’s Caleb Phillips. Phillips held a 3-2 lead with 29 seconds remaining in the second period when he received a stall warning. Sturdevant capitalized and recorded a one-point escape to tie the match. After a scoreless third period, the wrestlers entered overtime. With just seven seconds remaining in overtime, Sturdevant notched a takedown for two points and the sudden victory.

The win sent Sturdevant to the State Open, where he’s the No. 20 seed. It’s the second straight State Open appearance for the Woodland grappler, who takes a 25-6 record into the tournament.