He will go down as one of the best wrestlers the area has seen. And even that may not be enough praise for Foran High School’s Ryan Luth.
Luth, a senior, has accomplished just about everything imaginable in four short years on the wrestling mats for the Lions. This year was just the icing on the cake for the Register All-Area Most Valuable Player.
For starters, Luth picked up his 200th career win this year with a pin in a match against Xavier, tying the state record, then added to the total by finishing his career with an astounding 220-19 record. The 220 victories are the most in state history.
“I never really thought about it (record) until it happened,” Luth said. “I thought it was cool when it did. It is cool to look back at everything I did, along with the team. All the hard work paid off.”
There’s more. Luth was part of two state championship teams and was the team’s captain in 2017 and 2018.
This season, Luth won the 152-pound championship in the Southern Connecticut Conference, his fourth time overall, was named the SCC Wrestler of the Year, then went on to win his second State Open. If that were not enough, Luth continued by winning his second New England title, before finishing fifth in the Nationals.
“It is a combination of having a lot of great coaches in my life and high school,” Luth said. “Obviously Coach (Dave) Esposito and my dad (Noel) have coached me for a long time. Coach (Blair) Tugman has been great and I have had great practice partners. That is the other big part of it. I think the key is you have to be in the right mind set and work hard when you practice, and they push you to be better.”
Luth is the Connecticut Wrestler of the Year, a four-time All-Area selection, and a three-time National High School Coaches Association All-American. His biggest achievement is a combination of school and athletics as Luth is a four-time Academic All-American.
“You can’t just be a good wrestler,” Luth said. “You have to put the work in at school. That is what life is about. Doing both teaches you about working hard in life. That has been motivation to me. It has worked out well. A lot of credit goes to my parents and coaches for pushing me in the right direction.”
As a NHSCA All-American, Luth placed second as a freshman, and fifth in both his junior and senior seasons. He won the Class M championship in 2015 and 2018, was named the Class M Most Outstanding Wrestler in 2018, and was the Class M runner-up twice.
“I have been coaching him since he was six years old,” Foran coach Dave Esposito said. “I have coached him all his life. I have coached some pretty good wrestlers. He is just a natural-born wrestler. He can do things on the wrestling mat without thinking about it. He makes difficult things look easy. He wrestles good wrestlers and makes them look like they never wrestled before. He does everything technically pure. He is a perfect wrestler and a great kid. He is a very humble, down-to-earth kid.”
A member of the National Honor Society and the Foran High Innovative Thinkers Club, Luth will bring his studies and wrestling career to the Division III Centennial Conference in Lexington, Virginia at Washington and Lee University next year.
Luth was the top seed in the State Open this season and defeated Granby’s second-seeded Cooper Fleming 13-8 in the final, winning with a take down in the final stanza. He had advanced to the finals with a 15-0 semifinal victory by technical fall over Class S runner-up John Nieroda, and won a quarterfinal match over Amity’s Class L runner-up Matthew Rothman in 52 seconds.
“He has competed all over the country and has wrestled against some of the best kids,” Esposito said. “He has beaten them. If he is not the best wrestler to come out of Connecticut, he is one of the best. When you wrestle at that level, a lot of kids are beaten before they get out there. They do not believe they can compete at that level. Most kids don’t believe that. He never ever thought that way. He never thinks he is outmatched. He always believed in his heart he would go out there, compete and win. That sets him apart. If you do not have that, you don’t have a
As a team, the Lions had a 29-8 record during the dual-match season, and Luth was a key piece to the puzzle. Foran also finished eighth as a team in the State Open.
“They go hand in hand,” Luth said. “You go out there wanting to win for yourself, but you also remember you are going out there getting points for your team. In Class M, we saw that and how important they were. You know all the points count for the team.”
Luth then continued his brilliant season with an exciting match in the New England championship in Providence, Rhode Island. In a match which went to four overtimes, Luth escaped the grasp of Coventry, Rhode Island’s Devin Rivet with nine seconds left to win the title.
The season continued at the National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach. Facing the best of the best, Luth placed fifth in the 152-pound division, earning him All-American honors for the third time.
“Obviously, you always get a little nervous,” Luth said. “I was thankful to be there, especially this year. I realized it might be my last shot to make it count. It might be the last time people see me wrestle. I wanted to make a good impression.”
Luth has had the opportunity to learn from several quality coaches and wrestlers, but none better than his family as his dad Noel is a coach at Foran, and his brothers C.J. and Jack also wrestled.
Esposito knew Luth would have a successful high school career from the start as Luth won the Class M title at 120 pounds as a freshman, but lost in the finals as a sophomore, despite having 55 wins.
“He just loves to work and compete,” Esposito said. “He wrestled at 152 most of this year. If a team had a good 160-pound wrestler, he would wrestle at 160. He always tried to wrestle the best kids he could. He not so much wanted to pad his record, but, instead, wanted to go out there and wrestle the best guys. That is just amazing to me. He did not have much competition for most of the year. That was pretty impressive.”
Said Luth, “If you don’t think you are going to win, the chances are you are not going to. You train your mind. You have to have a lot of self-belief and confidence out there. Coach Esposito would always ask if we worked as hard as we could have because if you did, you had nothing to lose out there.”
Luth proved that to be true in his high school career.