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Wrestling a family affair for Ohio State All-American Bo Jordan

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Nov. 19, 2015, 4:55 p.m. (ET)

 Bo Jordan (Ohio State) after taking third place at
the 2015 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
Photo: Tony Rotundo,
At the age of six, Bo Jordan put on his first pair of wrestling shoes.

Even though they were meant to be worn by a grown man, the shoes were a perfect fit for the six-year-old son of a wrestling coach.

Bo’s father Jeff was a two-time NCAA All-American for the University of Wisconsin and is the head wrestling coach at St. Paris Graham, one of the premier high school programs in the nation. But more importantly, Jeff was the ultimate father, mentor and coach for Bo as he grew up on the mat and in life.

“Growing up, even when I was real little, I’d always see my dad. He was always involved with wrestling. I was really blessed and fortunate to have the dad that I did. He was always pushing me to get better and help me work on things,” said Jordan.

While wrestling for his father at St. Paris Graham High School, Bo navigated his way to a 182-1 record and a career that included four Ohio state championships and 122 pins. He was awarded the Junior Dan Hodge Trophy in 2013 as the nation’s top high school wrestler.

Jordan was a vital cog in a St. Paris Graham dynasty that included current college All-Americans Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin and Nick Brascetta of Virginia Tech.

“I attribute all of my success in high school to my dad and my workout partners,” Jordan said. “It’s pretty cool to know that a lot of guys that came from Graham are having success at different colleges. It has a lot to say about Graham High School and what the coaches did there.”

The Jordan family has produced several successful collegiate wrestlers. Bo’s uncle Jim Jordan was a two-time NCAA champion for Wisconsin and is currently serving as a U.S. Congressman. His cousin Isaac won the Big Ten title last year on top of earning his second All-American honors for Wisconsin. Additionally, his brother Micah is expected to be a major player in the Ohio State lineup this year as a freshman.

As fate would have it, we saw an all Jordan battle in the 165-pound finals of the Big Ten Championships last year with Isaac defeating Bo 3-2 to earn the conference crown. This match marked the first college loss for Bo.

“We wrestled back home so many times we really knew each other. There weren’t many surprises happening in the match. We knew each other’s styles and what was going to happen. I feel that helped me out and helped me grow as a wrestler,” said Jordan.

Last year, prior to the start of his first season in a starting role for Ohio State, Jordan was named one of four team captains as a freshman. In fact, he and two other freshmen, Nathan Tomasello and Kyle Snyder, were captains alongside four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber.

“It felt awesome that they would honor me like that. Myself, Logan, Nate and Kyle just tried to put our best effort in every day and continue to get better and try to help other people out as we were doing it and have fun with it,” said Jordan.

Adding the role of team captain to his already high expectations of being a highly touted recruit, Jordan was faced with the pressure of instant success at the college level.

“In wrestling you’re going to feel pressure or expectations from fans, family, coaches, teammates or yourself. Pressure will find you. I don’t think you need to look for ways to find pressure because it will find you no matter what,” said Jordan.

Jordan navigated this pressure well, going undefeated until the Big Ten finals loss to cousin Isaac and ultimately finishing in third place at the NCAA Championships at 165 pounds.

His only other loss on the season came in the NCAA semifinals to two-time NCAA champion Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State.

“I wrestled well overall. In the semifinals, I wrestled Dieringer and I kind of didn’t wrestle. I gave him a little too much respect and he beat me there,” said Jordan.

Coming back from the semifinal loss to Dieringer and placing third was not only big from an individual standpoint for Jordan, but also helped propel Ohio State to its first NCAA team championship in program history.

“I felt I finished the tournament good. It was really fun. I got to help our team win a national title, which was really cool. I didn’t expect it to be that fun,” said Jordan.

“We had a lot of ups and downs last year as a team. That was tough because we were losing some dual meets really close. We lost to Lehigh at the National Duals first round when we had all our guys in except for Hunter, so it was kind of tough, but I don’t think we ever stopped believing we were going to win as a team,” he continued.

Having fun and not determining success strictly on wins and losses is a primary focus for Jordan as he continues his Buckeye career.

“This year the big takeaway is trying to focus on putting the best version of myself out there and how to do that is just wrestling freely, not worrying about winning or losing, just getting wrestling positions,” said Jordan.

This season Jordan has moved up from 165 pounds to 174 pounds where he is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA. However, this move is not set in stone.

“I feel great there, but the reality is we might move Myles Martin in at 174, so if he feels ready to wrestle and the coaches think he’s ready to do good and score points at nationals then we will have him move in and I’ll probably drop to 165. Either way I’m ready for anything,” said Jordan.

Facing new challenges is nothing out of the ordinary for Jordan these days.

Over the summer, Jordan embraced a completely new set of circumstances off the mat, circumstances that few athletes face throughout their collegiate careers. He was wed to his wife Ashley and the couple became parents to a daughter, Keira.

“Leading up to it, I thought, man, this could be tough. I was nervous about it, but right now it’s awesome. I love it. I feel really blessed that I’m in this situation. Not many people in college are living the life I’m living, but I love it and I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Jordan.

Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan and his Buckeye teammates have been a backbone of support for Jordan and his family during this time.

“Coach Ryan has been a huge instrument in my life. He’s been awesome. Especially when I told him I was going to get married and having a daughter he was like, ‘hey man, I support you one hundred percent.’ He helped us through the whole situation and made everything the best for us and gave us so much support,” said Jordan.

The Buckeyes NCAA title defense began last week against Virginia. The Buckeyes impressed in their first dual meet of the season by defeating the Cavaliers 34-6. Jordan won his debut match at 174 pounds by technical fall over Fox Baldwin, 17-2.

For now though, Jordan and the Buckeyes will focus on making strides on the mat and having fun in the process with the expectation that positive results will follow.

“I come in every day and wrestle and we are working toward a goal, but it’s fun. I love the guys I workout with. They’ve become some of my best friends and will be my best friends for the rest of my life. The relationships I’ve built here are pretty priceless,” said Jordan.