OMAHA, Neb. – J.P. O’Connor has always looked good in red. He wore the red and white singlet for Oxford on his way to four New York state wrestling titles, and now donning the crimson for Harvard University, he capped a remarkable four-year college career with an NCAA Division One title Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
Already one of the all-time great wrestlers in Chenango County history, O’Connor cemented his position on the national stage as well winning Harvard’s third-ever national title. O’Connor, facing longtime nemesis Chase Pami of Cal Poly, won a 6-4 decision in the 157-pound finals.
O’Connor tied Harvard’s 2004 national champion, Jesse Jantzen for first place on Harvard’s all-time win list with 132, and his unblemished 35-0 season is the first in Harvard wrestling history.
“Going unbeaten is something I am definitely proud of,” O’Connor said on Sunday. “If I had lost a match earlier in the season and won a national title, I’d still be pretty happy. This is just icing on the cake.”
O’Connor was a two-time national all-American after his freshman and sophomore years, and his 37 wins in his inaugural season with the Crimson set a school record. Still, O’Connor was frequently bitten by the injury bug, and never had the perfect union of a healthy mind and body until his senior campaign.
“I know I did everything in my power this year and did everything right,” O’Connor said, who added that it is extremely tough for any division one wrestler to sustain his body through the duration of the season.