Prospect’s Cronin has breakout season on the mat

Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin, a Prospect resident, celebrates a win during the Berkshire-Valley Invitational Feb. 9 at the Gilbert School in Winsted. -JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WOODBURY — A jump in weight class for his junior season caused a jump in confidence for Nonnewaug wrestler and Prospect native Jack Cronin.

That confidence proved to be well-founded all the way through the end of his breakout season.

Cronin won the 182-pound championships at the Berkshire Valley Invitational and the Class S state championships, finished as the runner-up at the State Open, and placed among the top 12 at the New England championships.

“(The key was having) more confidence in myself and being able to be comfortable in my weight class,” said Cronin, who wrestled at 160 pounds during a sophomore season in which he finished second at the Berkshire Valley meet and third in Class S. “I didn’t spend time cutting weight like I used to, which caused me to be tired.”

His only championship expectation entering the postseason was to win a Berkshire Valley title, which he did with a pair of pinfall victories. Seeking to improve upon his third-place state championship finish from 2018, Cronin also ripped through this year’s Class S bracket Feb. 15-16.

As the top seed in the Class S 182-pound bracket, Cronin cruised to the title with three pinfall victories. His championship victory came via pinfall over Griswold’s Stephen Sims in 2 minutes, 18 seconds.

“Many of the opponents I faced, I had never faced them before, so I was very skeptical,” Cronin admitted, “but the confidence in myself allowed me to persevere and I just wrestled.”

Cronin began the State Open from Feb. 22-23 with a pair of pinfall victories to reach the semifinals. In the semis, he faced a 6-2 deficit after the first period but rallied in the second to record an escape, a takedown and finally a pinfall to defeat Trumbull’s Joseph Palmieri in 3:23.

In the final, Joel Barlow’s Carson LiCastri recorded an early takedown and turned it into a pinfall in 37 seconds to end Cronin’s run.

His runner-up finish earned Cronin a berth at the New England championships March 2 in Providence, R.I. After losing his opening match by pinfall, Cronin recorded a 9-3 decision victory over Branford’s Justin Olser and a pinfall win over Palmieri to reach the consolation round of eight. There, he suffered a pinfall loss to New London’s Jacob Commander to end his season.

“I was a little shell-shocked at first, but I didn’t let the competition get to me,” Cronin said. “Like always, I put my head down and did what I trained to do.”

Cronin won’t hit the mat again until next year’s high school preseason, as he spends his offseason working within his agricultural job placement at Nonnewaug and lifting weights with his father and brother. But when next season rolls along, he’ll enter with plenty of momentum.

“I’m extremely happy with my performance,” Cronin said. “I’d like to thank all the coaches, my family and my friends for everything they did for me.”