Senior Perspectives: Wrestling's J.P. O'Connor

Senior captains and representatives of varsity teams at Harvard contributed viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard. Each year the Senior Perspectives are compiled into a book and handed out at the Senior Letterwinner’s Dinner.

Senior Perspectives thus forms a valuable portion of each team’s legacy to sport at Harvard and to the permanent record built here by our varsity athletes. Throughout the summer, these senior essays will be posted to for all to see.

It’s hard to believe my time here is coming to a close.  When I begin to reflect on my senior year, I can’t help but think of a fairy tale ending.  I couldn’t have possibly envisioned my college career closing on a better note.  From competing in front of a standing-room only crowd on Senior Day at the Malkin Athletic Center, to finally getting my hand raised at the EIWA Conference Championships at Lehigh, to finishing my season undefeated in front of 16,000 people and thousands more watching live on ESPN by winning what had been an ever elusive national title at the NCAA Championships in Omaha, I couldn’t imagine it going any better.  And not only to accomplish this feat, but to do so representing Harvard University, was truly special.  For me, it means a little more to have done it with a Harvard shield on my chest.  That is a uniform that I wore with pride every time I had the opportunity to put it on.  Not only had I reached the pinnacle of excellence on the wrestling mat, but I experienced excellence every day in the classroom and in life at Harvard.

While my legacy at Harvard will be remembered by my biggest accomplishment of winning a national championship, I hope that I will be remembered by those closest to me for much more.  I hope I will be remembered for being a good leader in the face of adversity.  For upholding the values and virtues of Harvard wrestling’s mission statement.  For caring most about bettering Harvard wrestling and leaving a positive imprint not just on the program, but on the athletic department.  For being a dedicated student who approached his class work with just as much vigor as he did his athletic endeavors.  For caring about what really counts most in this world, the personal relationships I was fortunate enough to develop with my coaches, my teammates and the alumni.  And for growing as a person throughout my four years here. 
I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to attend this wonderful institution.  I am thankful for my coaches, Jay Weiss, Pat Owen, Sean Harrington, Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov, Darryl Vasquez, Jamill Kelly and Jesse Jantzen, for believing in me and challenging me every day to be a better wrestler and a better person.  I thank my teammates for being there with me every step of the way.  I know I could have never accomplished what I did without their support, dedication and hard work.  And lastly, I am thankful for my family who I owe the most gratitude.  It is because of their endless support and loving guidance that I am the person that I am today, and that is a person that I am very proud of.         

Thank you, Harvard, for a wonderful four years that I will truly never forget.