Photo courtesy of Tabitha Wilson.
OMAHA, Neb. - Senior J.P. O’Connor will compete in the 157 finals at the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championships Saturday night after winning his semifinal match by major decision Friday night in front of a sold out crowd at the Qwest Center.
“I feel lucky,” O’Connor said in his post-match press conference. “Even though I’m only the third finalist in school history, some great wrestlers have come through Harvard. Obviously, John Harkness and Jesse Jantzen – Jesse is someone I have looked up to my whole life … I know the history (at Harvard) and I am very proud to be a part of that now.”
O’Connor is Harvard’s third NCAA finalist and first since Jesse Jantzen ’04 in 2004. The three-time All-American dominated American’s Fittery to win 14-2 in the first ever meeting between the two. O’Connor scored a takedown and scored three back points just 22 seconds into the match to take a 5-0 lead. He extended it to 10-1 before the first period was over. O’Connor started on bottom in the second and scored on a reversal.
He will meet Chase Pami of Cal Poly in the final tomorrow night. The two met earlier this year with O’Connor earning a 5-4 victory and the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational title. Last year, the duo met three times with O’Connor going 2-1. Pami beat him in the round of 12 at last year’s NCAAs.
O’Connor improves to 34-0 on the season and has 131 career wins, one shy of the Harvard program record, held my Jantzen.
Harvard has 23 team points, which stands as the third most points scored at the NCAAs by a Crimson team.
The NCAA finals will air live on ESPN Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.
157 – No. 1 J.P. O’Connor
defeated Vincent Salminen (North Dakota State), 15-2
defeated Jake Kerr (Iowa), 8-1
defeated Justin Gaejthe (Northern Colorado), 8-1
defeated No. 5 Steve Fittery (American), 14-2