J.P. O’Connor had a whirlwind finish to his college career. The 2006 Oxford Academy graduate won the 157-pound NCAA Division I wrestling title last March, and approximately two months later, completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard. O’Connor was in the enviable position of having options. He could continue his education and work toward his medical degree; he could also join the working world; or he could bypass education and work, and continue to wrestle.
We spoke to O’Connor this week by phone, and he detailed his post-college exploits. Yes, O’Connor is still wrestling, and no, he is not presently enrolled in college (although he will ultimately return to school).
A few months after resting on top of the collegiate wrestling world, O’Connor found himself on the bottom rung on the U.S. freestyle circuit working his way up. “Last September and October, I was just like anyone else,” O’Connor said. “It’s a new challenge and I’ve had some good wins. There has definitely been a transition period, and I think I am finally starting to make strides, wrestle well, and build strategy.”
Other topics discussed were Kyle Dake of Lansing, now a two-time NCAA champion, and newly-crowned UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who wrestled on the same Section IV Division I team as O’Connor in 2005. Also on that team were Arthur Jones, now a NFL player with the Baltimore Ravens; and Troy Nickerson, who went on to win an NCAA Division One title.
Look for a feature story on O’Connor in next week’s Evening Sun sports section.
Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat.