Martins Ferry’s Bodkin makes most of return to OVAC Tourney

WHEELING — In the 2013 Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament all Martins Ferry’s Jonathan Bodkin could do was watch.

As the 61st annual event wrapped up Saturday night at WesBanco Arena, Bodkin was certainly more than just a spectator.

Thinking about missing out on an opportunity to take part a year ago, Bodkin decided to take matters into his own hands.

And it paid the ultimate dividends.

Bodkin was the final wrestler to have his arm raised and with that came the coveted 285-pound OVAC Championship by virtue of a 3-1 victory against Linsly’s Chukwudi Chukwu.

“(After not being in the tournament last year), it made it even more important and bigger for me to win,” Bodkin said. “This has been my goal and I’ve worked hard since then to achieve this.”

Then a sophomore, Bodkin attended each session of the tournament at WesBanco Arena, rooted hard for his teammates and paid special attention to the 285-pound weight class, where he would have been competing and a high seed.

However, just a week or so prior to the conference tournament, Bodkin was ejected from a match at St. Clairsville. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules call for a suspension for an ejection.

Despite efforts by then head coach Scott Roth to adjust the schedule, so Bodkin’s mandatory suspension would be out of the way prior to the OVAC, his hands were tied.

Bodkin took the medicine like a man.

“It was my fault, I messed up,” Bodkin said. “It really wore on me and was pretty depressing, but I’ve just kept it in the back of mind. I thought had a good chance of winning it last year, but I got it now, so that’s all that matters.”

Yes, he does have the title now. As a freshman, in 2012, Bodkin finished eighth in the tournament.

The title match didn’t go exactly how Bodkin envisioned during the hours leading up to the match.

Bodkin, who was giving up a definitive height advantage to Chuckwu in the final, just went about his business as he denied the Cadets their first champion since 1997.

“Like Coach Mike Shreve said, ‘no matter who you wrestle, they put their shorts the same way you do,'” Bodkin said. “The match actually didn’t go as I had expected. I thought I would have to get a takedown, but I was willing to take anything to get a win because, either way, it counts.”

After the clock hit all zeros, Bodkin raised his arms and immediately let out some of the loudest screams you’ll hear. He did the same thing in the semifinals, too.

It wasn’t just excitement that caused Bodkin to scream.

He was actually talking to the late Bubba Coleman, who Bodkin credited for getting him into wrestling as a kid.

“After every match that means something to me and to Coach Bubba, that’s just me talking to him,” Bodkin explained.

After embracing with first-year head coach Chas Yoder, Bodkin was mobbed at the boards by several family members, friends and supporters.

“Those are all my boys,” Bodkin said. “Having Coach (Jim) Hoover, Coach (Jeff) Oberdick, the family here just makes this even more special. The support from my family, friends and coaches means so much to me.”

With a few more weeks of the regular season remaining before the OHSAA sectional tournament begins next month, Bodkin isn’t about to rest on the OVAC title. He’s now begun the chase for his first trip to the state tournament.

“This (win) sky rockets my momentum,” Bodkin said.