WHEELING - Be it a wrestler, coach, official, educator, or family man, Art Hehr - recipient of the 2012 OVAC Mr. Mat award - is truly a class act. Hehr was honored with the prestigious accolade Saturday night before the championship session of the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament.
A 1959 graduate of Bridgeport High School, Hehr began his mat career under the tutelage of legendary coach George Kovalick. After a stint in the U.S. Army (1959-1962), Hehr acquired his bachelor's degree in education at West Liberty University in 1966. He later earned a master's degree from the University of Dayton in 1985.
As a Bulldogs wrestler, Hehr excelled on the mats. He was a three-time OVAC Champion (1957-59). and placed third in the 1957 Ohio state tournament as a sophomore. He was undefeated his junior and senior years, winning back-to-back individual Ohio state championships.
Former Bridgeport standout Art Hehr, left, is presented the prestigious Mr. Mat award by former Mr. Mat winner Gary Davis during Saturday’s ceremonies of the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament at WesBanco Arena.
As a Hilltoppers wrestler, Hehr was a two-time West Virginia Conference titlist. Unfortunately, a serious injury prematurely ended his competitive days on the collegiate mats.
Upon graduation, Hehr began his teaching career which lasted 35 years. Hehr initiated the wrestling program at Wheeling Jesuit University in 1966. He also started the mat sport at Skyvue High School in 1967, where he served as athletics director for 28 years.
During the 1967-1968 school year, Hehr was at the helm of the Martins Ferry High School wrestling program. In this capacity, he guided his Purple Riders matmen to an OVAC team championship in 1968. Hehr's wrestlers were also crowned team victors at both sectionals and districts that same year.
Hehr offered his services as an Ohio High School Athletic Association wrestling referee from 1970-1986. Many coaches at the time viewed his officiating approach as very professional, competent, and consistent, stressing fairness and wrestler safety.
During his teaching tenure, Hehr also coached track and field for three years at Skyvue High School. He retired from the education profession at Monroe Central High School in 1995.
Hehr competed on Bridgeport's first football team to go undefeated in 1958 and was a member of 1959 state championship Bulldogs wrestling squad. The entire team was inducted into the Bridgeport High School Hall of Fame in 2010. For his individual efforts as a two-time Ohio state champion wrestler, Hehr was inducted into the Bridgeport High School Hall of Fame in 2011.
Hehr and his devoted wife, Carol, reside in Woodsfield. They have three children - Edward, Stephen, and Gretchen - and five grandchildren.