By: John Nee '93
St. Rita Head Wrestling Coach Mike Boyd ‘01 and senior four-time Illinois state champion Austin O’Connor traveled to Pennsylvania last weekend to compete for Team USA in the 43rd annual Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. The main event pitted Team USA versus Team Pennsylvania in a dual meet.
O’Connor, who is ranked sixth nationally at 152 lbs., wrestled in the 145 lb. weight class for the dual and was matched up against the number-one-ranked 145lb wrestler in the nation, Iowa State-signee Jarod Verkleeren of Pennsylvania.
After giving up an early takedown to Verkleeren, the North Carolina-signee O’Connor rallied with two takedowns of his own to head into the third period with a 5-4 lead. O’Connor chose down to begin the third and quickly escaped to take a 6-4 lead over the nation’s top-ranked 145-pounder. Then, after attempting another shot, O’Connor was able to catch Verkleeren on his back where he was able to pin him and secure the dual for Team USA, who would prevail against Team Pennsylvania 28-20.
For his efforts, O’Connor was awarded the “Turning Point” award for the dual.