Harvard senior J.P. O'Connor won the 157-pound title at the NCAA wrestling championships Saturday night, defeating Cal Poly's Chase Pami 6-4 in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,919 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.
O'Connor, a three-time All-American, is the first Harvard wrestler to finish a season undefeated with his school-record tying 35th win.
"It's always a battle and struggle. Your mind is a funny thing. You always have those negative thoughts, but this year I did a good job of keeping those thoughts out of my head," O'Connor said. "Having my coaches support me and how I worked, I felt no one could stop me. I finally won the internal battle in my mind."
Pami struck first and scored quickly, the first time O'Connor had been taken down all tournament. It only took O'Connor 12 seconds to get out and start his own offense. He scored on Pami and held him to start the riding time. O'Connor chose bottom to start the second period and scored on a reversal to take a 5-3 lead. Pami picked bottom to start the third and escaped after 1:39. Pami took several shots late, but O'Connor held off the attack.
O'Connor outscored his opponents 51-10 at the NCAAs. He is the second three-time All-American at Harvard and finishes his career tied for first in program wins with 132. He shares the top spot with another national champion, Jesse Jantzen.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.