Richland 200: No. 2 Mekhi Bradley's change in mentality leads to two-sport All-Ohio honors

·11 min read
Mansfield Senior's Mekhi Bradley is the No. 2 athlete in the Richland 200.
Mansfield Senior's Mekhi Bradley is the No. 2 athlete in the Richland 200.

MANSFIELD — After his sophomore year, Mekhi Bradley took a long, hard look in the mirror.

He saw a kid who didn't live up to his own expectations. His football team went 3-6 a year after it played for a state championship. His wrestling season ended with a 23-8 record and an early elimination from the district tournament.

He also saw a kid with loads of potential and someone who wanted desperately to reach that potential. He saw someone who he never wanted to see again at that point, and wanted to make sure the next time he looked in the mirror he wouldn't recognize himself.

So, he got to work.

And what a difference an offseason makes. Bradley took on a Tyger mentality before the start of his junior season and changed everything about himself — and it paid off in a major way.

"Going into that year, I knew it was going to be a big year for me," Bradley said. "It was my junior year and if there was a time to make a name for myself, it was now or never. All I did was go in and expect big things out of myself, and I had to back that up with my play by competing. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself to make 100 tackles by Week 10, and I fell short of that. I was mad and that just fuels me."

By the end of his junior football season, the No. 2-ranked athlete in the Richland 200 had racked up the postseason accolades. When it was all said and done, he was a first-team All-Ohioan, first-team All-Northwest District, Division III Northwest District Defensive Player of the Year, Ohio Cardinal Conference Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference player.

While he may have fallen short of that 100-tackle goal after 10 weeks, he did make it by the end of the playoffs. The Tygers went 9-3 as Bradley piled up 119 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and a forced fumble as a middle linebacker — the first time he played the position in his life after spending his freshman and sophomore years on the defensive line.

"Sophomore year was a bad year for me," Bradley said. "I carried high expectations for myself all through high school, but my sophomore year I knew I didn't live up to my own expectations. As a junior, I wanted to move to linebacker and fly around."

So again, Bradley went to work. First thing first, he knew he had to change his body if he wanted to play middle linebacker. He had to work on his speed and put on muscle.

GALLERY: Mansfield Senior vs Padua Franciscan Football
GALLERY: Mansfield Senior vs Padua Franciscan Football

Complete transformation

That was where Pops came in. Mansfield Senior football coach and Mekhi's father, Chioke Bradley, saw his son take things a little more seriously than he had in the past, and that was all he needed. He devoted the summer to helping Mekhi achieve whatever goal and any dream he set for himself.

"The kid took a major step in the direction of feeling like football is something he can make a career out of," the elder Bradley said. "He played for a state title his freshman year and experienced a 15-game schedule and loved that feeling. He tasted a ton of success as a freshman, and after that he expressed to me how bad he wants to get back to that feeling. He has a tremendous will to be successful."

Mekhi changed his diet and workout routine. Eliminating sugar was the first thing, and by the time his junior season began he was nearly unrecognizable as he packed on the muscle, trimmed off all the baby fat and was lighter on his feet. And the results followed.

"He took a special interest in his diet and changed things completely," Chioke Bradley said. "He eliminated sugar to the extent he was drinking Gatorade Zeros. On top of that, he would run Cleveland Hill on the Southside religiously. He would get up in the mornings before we run that hill and run three miles. He absolutely put in the work. We were over at Cleveland Hill so much that the people across the street would wait for us to finish up and have drinks ready."

The transformation helped on the wrestling mat as well. Mekhi finished second in the Division II district tournament at 215 pounds to qualify for the state tournament for the first time in his high school career. He was a regular at the state tournament in middle school.

At state, Bradley finished seventh and ended with a 39-8 overall record. He was on the podium and an All-Ohioan in the second sport of his junior year. He saw the success in football and knew it springboarded him in wrestling.

"It gave me a lot of momentum especially after earning first team All-Ohio," Bradley said. "I knew I had to keep that going for wrestling and couldn't let that fall off. So, every time I stepped on the mat, I refused to lose. I had a mentality that I could not lose to the guy across from me."

The Tyger mentality.

Mansfield Senior's Mekhi Bradle is the No. 2 athlete in the Richland 200.
Mansfield Senior's Mekhi Bradle is the No. 2 athlete in the Richland 200.

Achieving something special

Chioke Bradley, an All-Ohio football player in the '90s, has seen his fair share of sensational athletes at Mansfield Senior, but he doesn't recall anyone achieving All-Ohio status in two sports in the same year.

"I don't know anyone from Mansfield Senior High who was All-Ohio in two different sports in the same year," he said. "I will be surprised if there is one out there, but I know he did it. I am extremely proud of him and proud to be his father and even more proud of the fact that he eats the food I put on the plate with our workouts. I push all my kids hard and they don't complain."

Now, the younger Bradley switches his mentality to his senior year. If his dad doesn't recall anyone earning All-Ohio honors in two sports in the same year, he definitely hasn't heard of anyone doing it two consecutive years. And that is the goal for Mekhi.

"All I want to do is one-up myself from last year," Bradley said. "I just want to keep improving and moving forward and never become satisfied. The work never stops, doing your 1/11th every day is the expectation, and when an opportunity comes my way I have to make sure I take it and succeed at it."

If he takes that mentality into the fall and winter, there will be even more Division I schools knocking on his door.

"He has interests from some Division I schools and an offer to Toledo, so this is a very big year for him," Chioke Bradley said of his son. "He just wants to play football somewhere. He doesn't care if it is Division II or Division I, he is a football player. He wants the right fit and play at a high level. He is going to show it out here during his senior year. He has already shown his dedication academically and as a leader in the school building. Someone will get a steal."

Whereever Bradley ends up, the next time he decides to take a deep look in the mirror, he is going to see a kid who gave it everything he had during his high school career and someone who will take a Tyger mentality to wherever his life takes him.

Because that is what he expects of himself, and when internal expectations and desire to succeed collide it creates a special athlete like Mekhi Bradley.

Throw in the Tyger mentality, and the sky is the limit.

jfurr@gannett.com

740-244-9934

Twitter: @JakeFurr11

2022 Richland 200 Athletes

  • 200: Natalie Grove, Shelby

  • 199: Trenton Weaver, Crestview

  • 198: Oliver Cramer, Mansfield Christian

  • 197: Trynity Wolfe, Lexington

  • 196: Annie Mahek, Shelby

  • 195: Leyna Gerich, Crestview

  • 194: Alex Rose, Ontario

  • 193: Vivian Lampert, Madison

  • 192: Brooklyn Gwirtz, Shelby

  • 191: Will Magers, Shelby

  • 190: Channon Cundiff, Shelby

  • 189: Andre Harrison, Mansfield Christian

  • 188: Colin Cordrey, Ontario

  • 187: Isaac Hillman, Mansfield Christian

  • 186: Olivia Kreger, Ontario

  • 185: Hunter Petit, Ontario

  • 184: Drew Yetter, Ontario

  • 183: Jaden Jones, Mansfield Senior

  • 182: Caleb Porter, Plymouth

  • 181: Ally Wigton, Madison

  • 180: Cole Everrand, Mansfield Christian

  • 179: Tristan Johnson, Mansfield Christian

  • 178: Gracie Dinsmore, Crestview

  • 177: Brody Miller, Shelby

  • 176: Evie Hostetler, Lexington

  • 175: Kyleah Jones, Mansfield Christian

  • 174: Cameron Kuhn, Madison

  • 173: Chesnie Patton, Crestview

  • 172: Zach Hamman, Plymouth

  • 171: Annaleise Norris, Mansfield Senior

  • 170: Braxton Hall, Ontario

  • 169: Anna Blackstone, Lexington

  • 168: Jade Adkins, Lexington

  • 167: Carson Brubaker, Shelby

  • 166: Trevin Smith, Lexington

  • 165: Hannah Smith, Lexington

  • 164: Mary Wilkins, Shelby

  • 163: Calah Rader, Mansfield Christian

  • 162: Quinten DeBolt, Mansfield Senior

  • 161: Jayden Goad, Madison

  • 160: Trace McVey, Plymouth

  • 159: Caden Cunningham, Crestview;

  • 158: Carter Newman, Lexington;

  • 157: Jace Hill, Crestview

  • 156: Griffin Baker, Mansfield Christian

  • 155: Egan Cavanaugh, St. Peter’s

  • 154: Luke Zerby, Mansfield Christian

  • 153: Camden DeBolt, Mansfield Senior

  • 152: Nathan Haney, Mansfield Senior

  • 151: Juleah Windham, Mansfield Senior

  • 150: Marissa Caugherty, Lucas

  • 149: Brayden Spitler, Lucas

  • 148: Bobby Grover, Lucas

  • 147: Alyssa Shay, Lucas

  • 146: Terrance Corbin, Lexington

  • 145: Skyler Winters, Shelby;

  • 144: Bralen Boone, Ontario;

  • 143: Gavin Cains, Crestview;

  • 142: Luke Roberts, Lexington

  • 141: Renee Anders, Clear Fork

  • 140: Gavin Barker, Crestview;

  • 139: Callie Cyrus, Madison

  • 138: Jaylin Branham, Plymouth

  • 137: Zian Rhodes, Lexington

  • 136: Eden Howard, Ontario

  • 135: Chloe Trine, Plymouth

  • 134: Gavin Cates, Madison

  • 133: Jaxson Husty, Lexington

  • 132: Natalee Back, Madison

  • 131: Chance Basilone, Lexington

  • 130: Marshall Moore, Shelby

  • 129: Trista Jewell, Ontario

  • 128: Braden Mumaw, Lexington

  • 127: Caleb Cunningham, Ashland Crestview;

  • 126: Devin Holloway, Ashland Crestview;

  • 125: Jaden Beachy, Clear Fork

  • 124: Mylah Davis, Madison

  • 123: Taylor Tucker, Madison

  • 122: Brooklynn Adkins, Ontario

  • 121: Maddie Haring, Lexington

  • 120: Baylee Black, Ontario

  • 119: Ethan Slone, Lexington

  • 118: Ty Lehnhart, Lucas

  • 117: Monetta Hilory, Mansfield Senior

  • 116: Trey Nickoli, Lexington

  • 115: Mitch Riegel, Lexington

  • 114: Fred Proto, Clear Fork

  • 113: Micheal Thomas, Madison

  • 112: Landon Kennard, Shelby

  • 111: Kendall Windsor, Clear Fork

  • 110: Alyssa Carroll, St. Peter’s

  • 109: Anna Sparks, Mansfield Christian

  • 108: Noelle Beare, Mansfield Christian

  • 107: Kenley Miller, Lexington

  • 106: Chloe Sturts, Lucas

  • 105: Feree Kent, St. Peter’s

  • 104: Carter Weaver, Ontario

  • 103: Kiyah Wentz, Mansfield Senior

  • 102: Rachel Kocher, Lexington

  • 101: Will Jamieson, Madison

  • 100: Peyton Dzugan, Ontario

  • 99: Demi Hipp, Shelby

  • 98: Brayden Fogle, Lexington

  • 97: Hope Barrett, Madison

  • 96: Lilly Wortman, Clear Fork

  • 95: Natalie Hunter, Lexington

  • 94: Isaac Vance, Lexington

  • 93: Joey Aquino, Lexington

  • 92: Jarek Ringler, Crestview

  • 91: Cameron Wagers, Plymouth

  • 90: Justin Crall, Mansfield Senior

  • 89: Marisah Atterholt, Madison

  • 88: Kyleigh Rieter, Madison

  • 87: Heath Kash, Crestview

  • 86: Adison Reymer, Crestview;

  • 85: James Stewart, Ontario

  • 84: Kylie Snow, Ontario

  • 83: Pacey Chrastina, Clear Fork

  • 82: Davis Washinske, Mansfield Christian

  • 81: Carmelo Smith, Mansfield Senior;

  • 80: Mason Turnbaugh, Ontario

  • 79: Noah Stuart, Ashland Crestview;

  • 78: Connor Hauger, Clear Fork

  • 77: Emily Nolan, Madison

  • 76: Victor Skoog, Clear Fork;

  • 75: Madi Basilone, Lexington

  • 74: Owen Roth Lexington

  • 73: Jordan Beireis, Lexington

  • 72: Emma Aumend, Crestview

  • 71: Makenzie Back, Plymouth

  • 70: Alexis Rippel, Mansfield Christian

  • 69: Hunter Church, Lucas

  • 68: Troy Chapman, Lexington

  • 67: Issaiah Ramsey, Shelby;

  • 66: Luke Schlosser, Clear Fork

  • 65: Mallary Gundrum, Shelby

  • 64: Andrew Fanello, Lucas;

  • 63: Marleigh Albert, Shelby

  • 62: Dylan Catanese, Lexington

  • 61: Jake Chilcote, Lexington

  • 60: Ethan Remy, Lexington

  • 59: Karl Etzel, Lexington

  • 58: Taylor Mullins, Ontario

  • 57: Annika Labaki, Clear Fork

  • 56: Olivia Schulz, Madison

  • 55: Kylie Galownia, Lexington

  • 54: Elias Owens, Mansfield Senior

  • 53: Sophie Durbin, Crestview

  • 52:  Joslynne Frazier, Ontario

  • 51: Audi Albert, Shelby

  • 50: Ricky Mills, Mansfield Senior

  • 49: Alex Depperschmidt, Lexington

  • 48: Leo Hess, Mansfield Senior

  • 47:  Kiersten Bradley, Mansfield Senior

  • 46: Wade Bolin, Crestview

  • 45: Corbin Toms, Lucas

  • 44: Hudson Moore, Lexington

  • 43: Kaylie Eichorn, Lexington

  • 42: Bri Bowles, Madison

  • 41: Chase Studer, Ontario

  • 40: Andrew Smollen, Lucas;

  • 39: Luke Dininger, Shelby

  • 38: Huck Finnegan, Shelby

  • 37: Peyton Bodnar, St. Peter’s

  • 36: Emma Montgomery, Shelby

  • 35: Elli Mayer, Shelby

  • 34: Isaac McFadden, Lexington

  • 33: Ivan Prykhodko, Lexington

  • 32: Abby Little, Mansfield Christian

  • 31: Matt Dwyer, Lexington

  • 30: Sean Putt, Mansfield Senior

  • 29: Shae Sparks, Plymouth

  • 28: Aidan Culler, Lucas

  • 27: Ahmaan Thomas, Mansfield Senior

  • 26: Jayden Jeffries, Madison

  • 25: Shawn Bailey, Crestview

  • 24: Miles Miesse, Ontario

  • 23: Kaden Riddle, Clear Fork

  • 22: Caiden Allen, Plymouth

  • 21: Keontez Bradley, Mansfield Senior;

  • 20: Ja’Ontay O’Bryant, Mansfield Senior

  • 19: Elyana Weaver, Lexington

  • 18: Amarr Davis, Mansfield Christian

  • 17: Autumn Taylor, Ontario

  • 16: Jillian Morr, Lexington

  • 15: Brie Trumpower, Ontario

  • 14: Baden Forup, Lexington

  • 13: Logan Toms, Lucas

  • 12: Adi Turnbaugh, Ontario

  • 11: Kayla Gonzales, Shelby

  • 10: Emma Wise, Lexington

  • 9: Hunter Hutcheson, Madison

  • 8: Owen Barker, Crestview

  • 7: Mason Ringler, Crestview

  • 6: Alex Bruskotter, Shelby

  • 5: Jacob Ohl, Ontario

  • 4: Hayden Kuhn, Crestview

  • 3: Gage Weaver, Ontario

  • 2: Mekhi Bradley, Mansfield Senior

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Richland 200: Mansfield Senior's Mekhi Bradley is No. 2 athlete