The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


For nearly everyone, the Olympic Games are a spectator sport.

During the 18 days the sporting events take place, people across the world watch as some of the greatest athletes on the planet compete in a bevy of sports, only dreaming that one day it might be them on stage with the world watching.

It turns out that one of the athletes attempting to achieve that feat is one of our own, Oak Harbor native J.D. Bergman.

He is blessed with all the gifts: smart, athletically gifted and supremely talented. And he's utilized those gifts in the hopes that he can qualify for the Olympics.

If Bergman wants to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he’ll have to do so this coming weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa when he competes against a number of wrestlers from across the country at the 211.5-pound (96 kilogram) weight class.

For Bergman, wrestling has been a part of his life for years. He's been competing in the sport since he was in the fourth grade and is part of a well-known wrestling family. Bergman was coached by his uncle, Joe, in junior high, and by another of his uncles, George, at Oak Harbor High School. And his father, James, who owns and operates Henry W. Bergman, Inc., an excavating and road construction company based in Genoa, was a state champion in wrestling at 157 pounds at Cardinal Stritch in 1972.

At Oak Harbor, Bergman was a two-time state champion, winning in 2002 and '03 at 189 pounds while going a combined 85-0 in the process during his final seasons.

Following high school, Bergman went on to have a stellar career at Ohio State University from 2004-08. During his time in Columbus, he finished second in career team points and fourth in career falls, winning 129 matches. A three-time All-American, Bergman finished second at the 2008 NCAA Tournament and was a three-time runner-up in the Big Ten Conference. He graduated from OSU with a degree in communication, earning academic All-American honors along the way.

He lives and trains in Columbus, receiving a monthly stipend from the Ohio Regional Training Center, a non-profit organization that exists to help “provide a world-class training environment for Olympic-level wrestlers.”

Most recently, he won a bronze medal at the Yasar Dogu International in Turkey in February. In 2010, Bergman was the recipient of an incredible honor when he was named the 2010 John Smith Award winner as the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year by USA Wrestling.


Olympic hopeful J.D. Bergman (Oak Harbor/Ohio State) wrestling for Team USA. (Photo by Kevin Schlosser courtesy of Ohio Regional Training Center)

Bergman’s major victories in recent years have included gold medals at the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba and the New York AC International and a silver medal at the Medved International in Belarus. He was also the World Team Trials champion as well as the U.S. Open champion. Currently, he is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. at 211.5 pound (96 KG).

Through the years, Bergman has dealt with his share of trials and tribulations. He's sustained serious injuries to both knees, his shoulders, and back, but has fought through it all to reach this point.

So how has he dealt with the setbacks? How has he managed to not to give up hope and remain steadfastly focused?

He says by keeping a level-headedness and maintaining a strong faith in God. He spoke about the spiritual journey he's been on recently.

“It's invaluable gaining clarity, understanding and peace from God,” said Bergman. “There isn't anything better than that. God has definitely called me to wrestle.”

When his wrestling days are over, he has many other interests that he'd like to pursue, public speaking being one of them.

“I'm always interested in speaking (to people),” Bergman said. “I'm real passionate about being a positive influence on young adults and kids. And it's impossible for me to not share how God has changed my life. I've (been) able to share my stories at wrestling camps (and) have found kids across the country that I was able to share my faith with.

“Six years ago, I wouldn't have talked to anybody about my faith because I didn't know Jesus, I just knew about Him.”

A back injury last spring sidelined Bergman for some time, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it gave him the opportunity to supplement his income by working as a clinician at wrestling camps, which gave him the platform with which to speak to over a thousand kids.

In the end, what is to be admired about Bergman is that he's taken the road less traveled in life. Instead of being motivated by money like so many others, he is motivated by doing what he loves and has done so while serving as a member of Team USA.

Bergman may not have much time left when it comes to his wrestling career, so he wants to make the most of this opportunity.

“Ultimately, it's up to God when my wrestling career ends,” he said. “I'm excited to have the opportunity to potentially compete for an Olympic gold medal this summer. Its kind-of surreal that the past 17 years have led up to this moment.”



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