COLUMBUS, Ohio – J.D. Bergman, an Ohio State wrestling letterwinner from 2004-08, won the gold medal at the Cerro Pelado International in Havana, Cuba, for the United States.

After earning a spot on the U.S. World Cup Team last month, Bergman finished first at 96 kg/211.5 pounds.

“You always expect to finish first in every tournament you compete in,” Bergman, a three-time All-American at Ohio State, said. “But it also always feels good to finish first. It’s just one more step in the right direction in trying to be the No. 1 guy and making the 2010 World Team.”

Bergman originally was scheduled to compete at the Yasar Dogu International tournament in Istanbul, Turkey, but ultimately ended up competing in Cuba. The decision paid off as Bergman was one of three U.S. men freestyle wrestlers to win the coveted gold medal, joining Trent Paulson and Steve Mocco. Overall, 13 of the 16 U.S. wrestlers competing in the tournament won a medal. 

The former Buckeye from Oak Harbor, Ohio, won three-consecutive matches, first facing Eduardo Mesa of host country Cuba. Bergman defeated Mesa, 3-2, 7-2, before downing Germany’s Johannes Kessel, 4-0, 4-0.  In the gold-medal match, Bergman was victorious over Oldrik Wagner of Germany, 2-0, 0-1, 3-0.

Bergman will now prepare for a training stint at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, beginning a two-and-a-half week absence from Columbus. After working out in Colorado, Bergman will head to Russia March 1 for another event.

Not only did Bergman, a two-time team captain, conclude his Buckeye career with multiple All-America honors in 2004, 2007 and 2008, but he also was the 2008 NCAA Championships heavyweight runner-up.

He also wrapped up his collegiate career second on the program’s all-time team points standings (521.5) and fourth in career falls (43). He was just one of 16 Buckeyes to reach the century mark in career wins with 129. 

A two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Bergman graduated from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in communication in March 2008.