Rookie wrestling season a success for Woodland’s Sturdevant

Woodland’s Elias Sturdevant battles St. Paul’s Evan Kowalski in the finals of the 113-pound class during the Berkshire Valley Postseason Invitational Feb. 9 at the Gilbert School in Winsted. -JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NEW HAVEN — Woodland freshman wrestler Elias Sturdevant listed only two goals for his rookie season — but those expectations were set at a level that would have challenged even the best upperclassmen.

But after a Berkshire Valley championship and a State Open berth, Sturdevant leaves his freshman campaign on the mat feeling the way he expected.

“I think I performed pretty well for my freshman year,” Sturdevant said. “My only two expectations were to win the league and get into the State Open. I think I accomplished everything.”

After winning the 113-pound division at the Berkshire Valley Invitational on Feb. 9, Sturdevant entered the Class S state championship tournament Feb. 15-16 as the No. 6 seed. As the second-highest-seeded freshman in the field, he earned a first-round bye. In the round of 16, Sturdevant defeated No. 11 Ethan Wright of Haddam-Killingworth by pinfall in 1 minute, 4 seconds.

Although he suffered a 7-2 decision defeat to Canton’s Matt Webb in the quarterfinals, Sturdevant rallied through the consolation bracket. He pinned Rocky Hill’s Tyler Brodeur in 54 seconds and earned an 8-0 major decision over St. Paul’s Evan Kowalski to reach the consolation semifinals.

A 5-1 decision loss to Griswold’s Tyler Arsenault landed Sturdevant in the fifth-place match, where Sturdevant suffered a 6-4 decision defeat in overtime to Montville’s Derek Debbis.

That sixth-place finish, though, earned Sturdevant a spot in the State Open on Feb. 22-23. There, he suffered a 12-2 major decision loss to East Haven’s Victor Garcia in the first round and an 8-2 decision loss to Webb in the consolation bracket to end his season.

“It was a pretty good competition. The State Open was extremely tough,” Sturdevant said. “I just expected to try my best. I never really had any goals set for the State Open. I just wanted to wrestle the hardest I could.”

Sturdevant ended his freshman season with a 24-10 record. He admitted he learned plenty over the course of the year and he gained a spark to escalate his training over the offseason.

“I learned that even though you may be an underclassman, that doesn’t stop you from accomplishing great things or beating people who are older than you,” Sturdevant said. “I gained a lot of confidence. I’m going to train a lot harder since I’m going to be wrestling people who are 17 and 18 years old. I’m going to have to be a lot more intense.”

Cronin wins Class S title: Nonnewaug’s Jack Cronin, a Prospect native, won the Class S championship in the 182-pound division and reached the State Open final.

Cronin earned the top seed in the Class S tournament and ripped through the competition, earning three pinfall victories to earn the championship. His pinfall victory over Griswold’s Stephen Sims in the final came in 2:18.

Cronin began the State Open 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.