2010 NCAA national champion J.P. O'Connor '10 has joined the Varisty Club as Assistant Director after spending four years as an assistant coach for the Harvard wrestling team.
In his first season as a member of the staff, O'Connor helped the Crimson place five on the podium at the EIWA Championships while Steven Keith '13 and Walter Peppelman '12-'13 earned All-America status at the NCAA Championships with a pair of eighth place finishes at 133 lbs. and 157 lbs., respectively.
In 2013, O'Conner helped Harvard post its first winning record in dual meets (8-5) and its first winning record against the EIWA (5-4) since 2001 with seven Crimson earning All-Ivy selections, the most since the same year. At the EIWA Championships, eight Crimson finished on the podium with three grapplers earning a spot in the NCAA Championships.
The 2014 season saw the return of an EIWA champion to Cambridge as sophomore Todd Preston won the 141 lbs. title. Preston's performance, which included a sudden-victory overtime win over ninth-ranked Luke Vaith of Hofstra in the finals, was so impressive that the conference coaches awarded him Most Outstanding Wrestler honors, making him the third Crimson grappler to receive the award. Preston was one of five Harvard wrestlers to reach the podium at Eastern's, and was joined at the NCAA Championships by junior co-captain James Fox, who made his third consecutive trip to Nationals.
O’Connor became Harvard’s third national champion in 2010 when he claimed the 157 lbs. title with a 6-4 win over Cal Poly’s Chase Pami. O’Connor finished his senior campaign with a perfect 35-0 record and was named both the EIWA and Ivy League Wrestler of the year. He is the only Crimson grappler to ever complete an undefeated season while his 35 wins that year rank as the fourth most in program history.
O’Connor graduated with a career record of 132-16, ranking him first in career wins and second in career winning percentage (.892). He is one of only two wrestlers in Harvard history to earn All-America status three times and became the first Harvard freshman to do so in 2007 with his fifth-place finish at Nationals. O’Connor is also the only two-time Ivy League Wrestler of the Year in Crimson annals and was a two-time team captain. His other accolades include being a four-time All-Ivy League selection, being named the 2007 EIWA and Ivy League Rookie of the Year and taking home the 2010 William J. Bingham Award as Harvard’s outstanding male athlete.
As impressive as his career was on the mat, O’Connor’s career away from the mat was just as impressive. A three-time NWCA All-Academic and Academic All-Ivy honoree, O’Connor was also named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team. He helped the Crimson to four consecutive NWCA Div. I All-Academic Team honors and following his senior campaign Harvard was recognized as having the highest GPA among all Div. I wrestling programs.
A native of Oxford, N.Y., O’Connor was a highly touted recruit out of high school. He is one of only three individuals in New York history to win four state championships and was a five-time sectional champion. He completed his high school career with a 238-12 record, was named first team All-America, was a member of the Amateur Wrestling News Dream Team and was a recipient of the 2006 Dave Schultz Athletic Excellence Award.
O’Connor earned his degree from Harvard in May of 2010 as a human evolutionary biology concentrator.