Wrestlers brace for a winter without a season

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Woodland’s Elias Sturdevant takes down Northwestern’s Ben Langer during a meet Jan. 22 at Northwestern Regional High School in Winsted. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE

Woodland junior Elias Sturdevant — a two-time defending Berkshire League wrestling champion — likely won’t get the chance to make it three titles in three years.

The CIAC Board of Directors has postponed the start of the winter high school sports season until Jan. 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there is still hope for a winter season, it’s very unlikely that sports deemed a high risk for transmitting the coronavirus, such as wrestling, dance and competitive cheer, will be played even if there is a season.

“Wrestling and cheerleading have been postponed to Jan. 19 along with the other winter sports,” Woodland athletic director Chris Decker said. “When that date comes we are hoping to participate in both sports, but will make a decision at that time.”

Sturdevant has made a name for himself over the past two seasons competing as part of the Thomaston-Holy Cross co-op. In 2019, he won the Berkshire League championship in the 113-pound class. He won another league title last season, this time in the 120-pound class.

Sturdevant, who has posted an overall record of 49-18 in two years, is resigned to the likelihood that he won’t have a junior season.

“I’m very disappointed there won’t be a season,” Sturdevant said. “I won’t get the chance of trying to become a three-time Berkshire League champion.”

Sturdevant wrestled as a team of one his freshman season. Last year, he was joined by Woodland teammates Noah Omer and Peter Dupre.

“Not being able to wrestle this season does give me the opportunity to continue and train, to become better in all areas,” Sturdevant said. “I have equipment at home to help me prepare, and at the end of the summer they did open my wrestling club, so I went there as long as it was open.”

If the wrestling season is canceled, Sturdevant does have next season to look forward. That won’t be the case for Naugatuck senior wrestler Logan Wilcox.

“Unfortunately, they made the right call to cancel the season, even if it is my last year,” Wilcox said. “I have seen other states go ahead with wrestling wearing masks. I just don’t know how that could work. I see a lot of broken masks.”

Naugatuck’s Logan Wilcox pins Masuk’s Dan Dutkowsky during a meet Jan. 29 at Pomperaug High School in Southbury. –CONTRIBUTED

Wilcox wrestles with Pomperaug as a team of one. In his first season as a sophomore, he posted a 10-11 overall record in the 170-pound class and went 2-2 at the Berkshire League championship and 2-2 at the state open.

Last year, Wilcox moved up to the 182-pound class. He finished 10-4 overall and third at the Berkshire League championship. A concussion in practice before the state open ended his season, but his continued progress had him looking forward to his senior year.

“I don’t define my wrestling career by the medals I’ve earned or the wins I accumulated,” said Wilcox, who is preparing to join the U.S. Army and will report to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in July.

He added, “It’s more about the camaraderie with your teammates. Wrestling is the greatest sport that will prepare you for life — period. It teaches you to roll with your losses and learn from them; how to step up and overcome adversity.”