THOMASTON — The annual Berkshire-Valley Invitational belonged to local wrestlers.
In the Feb. 15 tournament at Thomaston High, Woodland’s Elias Sturdevant captured the 120-pound championship while Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin, of Prospect, won the 182-pound title. Naugatuck’s Logan Wilcox also earned the bronze medal at 182.
Sturdevant, whose Hawks practice with Thomaston throughout the season, won his second straight league title after capturing the 113-pound division as a freshman. In the 120-pound final, he earned a 4-0 decision over St. Paul’s Evan Kowalski.
“I felt confident in my abilities and kept a positive mindset through my matches,” Sturdevant said. “Overall I feel like the tournament went great for me as I was able to execute everything I knew.”
Representing one of five schools that competed a team of one, Sturdevant was the only one to bring back a championship.
“It means a lot to me knowing that I can come out here and perform without having as big of a team as some of these other schools,” Sturdevant told the Republican-American. “It can be kind of tough coming out here with only one or two other people along with you. But it makes that much of a difference winning.”
Cronin, who is the top-ranked 182-pound wrestler in the state, cruised to another league title. He pinned Wilcox in the semifinal before dispatching Oxford’s Jason Madden in only 16 seconds to win the championship.
“I felt like I had good competition but my confidence in my ability preserved,” Cronin said. “I try new stuff through the regular season then lock down certain moves for tournament season.”
Wilcox was pleased with his performance in the tournament and acknowledged how difficult it is to wrestle Cronin.
“My coach and I thought I performed well,” Wilcox said. “Jack is a tough opponent for many reasons, but the few key ones are his speed, aggressiveness, and his ability to exploit mistakes.”
After losing to Cronin, Wilcox rebounded to beat Northwestern’s Dylan Phillips and Jacob Twombly in the consolation bracket to earn the bronze medal.
“The loss to Jack didn’t shake me up too bad because my mindset has shifted from worrying about the past to just letting what happened be in the past and just preparing for the next match,” Wilcox said. “In the first consolation match I just ended up outpacing my opponent and getting a pin, and in the second I knew that my opponent liked to tie up and got frustrated quickly, so I went in with lots of forward pressure and when he pushed back I threw him for a quick finish.”
Unfortunately for Wilcox, the Berkshire-Valley tournament was the end of his season due to a concussion he suffered in the following week’s practice. That kept him from participating in the Class L state tournament, although he said he was feeling better.
Wilcox thinks the success he experienced this season will help for his senior campaign next winter.
“I feel I have leveled up and this season I felt more confident on the mat,” Wilcox said. “I also felt smoother in my transitions from position to position and move to move. I think my smoother, more aggressive, and confident style of wrestling will serve me well in senior year, where I will continue to improve my technique.”
Sturdevant and Cronin competed in the Class S tournament Feb. 21-22 at Killingly High.
Cronin won the Class S title and was the State Open runner-up at 182 a year ago. He repeated as state champ in 182 by pinning Plainville’s Esteban Torres in 33 seconds in the championship match.
Sturdevant placed fifth in 120 in Class S after finishing sixth at 113 in last year’s tournament.
The State Open is set for Feb. 28-29 in New Haven.