Editor’s note: Today is part two of our story on Oxford Academy graduate J.P. O’Connor, who is now training for a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.
BOSTON – As J.P. O’Connor was finishing off his high school career at Oxford Academy, Kyle Dake of Lansing was just starting to make his mark on the state scene. O’Connor, as a senior in 2006, blasted the competition on his way to the 145-pound Division One state title. Dake, meanwhile, placed third as a freshman in his first New York State meet, and he went on to win a pair of Division Two state titles.
History repeated itself in the 2010 the NCAA Division One wrestling tournament at Omaha, Neb. O’Connor, a senior, was already a three-time all-American, yet a national title still escaped him. O’Connor would ultimately win the 157-pound title, and it came two matches after Dake made the biggest of splashes winning the 141-pound national crown as a true freshman.
“Sometimes people forget what a true freshman means,” O’Connor said. “A lot of guys will redshirt (sit out a year) if they need it or they’re not physically ready. For a 17- or 18-year-old kid to go wrestle with guys 22 and 23 years old... a performance like that was amazing.”