BY KEN MORSE
Two Woodland High seniors, Elias Sturdevant and Noah Omer, will represent the Hawks this season, wrestling with the Pomperaug High team in the South-West Conference. After last season was canceledn there is a lot of excitement this year as teams are heading back to the mat and grappling to bring home a title.
Sturdevant began his Woodland wrestling career as a freshman with the Thomaston co-op team in the Berkshire League. Sturdevant did the Hawks proud by compiling a 24-10 record and went on to claim the BL championship in the 113-pound class.
In his sophomore year Sturdevant moved up to 120 pounds and improved to 25-6, winning another BL championship. He also moved up in the states going from 6th place in Class S as a freshman to 5th place in his sophomore season.
Omer and Peter Dupre joined Sturdevant during the 2019-20 season under Thomaston head coach John Varanelli. The COVID pandemic wiped out the 2020-21 season.
In September 2021 Varanelli passed away at 65-years-old. He was responsible for reforming the Thomaston program after it remained idle for a couple of seasons following its dissolution in 2013.
Varanelli, a former UConn wrestler and Holy Cross High graduate, formed a co-op team between Thomaston, Holy Cross and Litchfield in 2016, with Woodland always willing to find an opportunity for kids to learn how to wrestle.
“He was my mentor,” said Sturdevant. “He gave me the opportunity to wrestle and taught me so much and helped me to win back-to-back Berkshire League titles. Coach Varanelli retired in 2021 so that got me looking for another team to practice with. Since Thomaston is now a co-op with Terryville and its much farther away I looked at Pomperaug.
“I will still have an opportunity to wrestle in the Berkshire League championships even though Pomperaug is in the SWC. So the goal is to go out and win another league title in the 126 pound class and to place higher than I have done in the Class S meet.
“Pomperaug coach Brendan Quinn is a fantastic coach. He is very good at instruction and in leading the room. I stayed in shape during last year after they cancelled the season. I worked out at KT Kids in Rocky Hill.”
Omer joined the wrestling ranks as a sophomore and went 8-7 wrestling in the 285-pound class. He gained experience in the Berkshire Valley tournament and the Class S state meet. The Woodland lineman has achieved much success as a member of the Hawks football team and he’s looking forward to having a successful senior season as a wrestler.
“By the end of that first season I absolutely loved it,” said Omer. “At the beginning I was still a little tired from the football season and we went to the playoffs. So I did miss a little bit in the beginning.
“I knew I really liked the sport, oddly enough, when I lost in the state tournament. It pretty much broke me down and gave me a desire to go out there and get better at it. I think physically and as far as technique goes I’m where I need to be in order to be successful. Looking forward to the season after having last season cancelled. My focus is on just improving with each match.”
BY KEN MORSE