Columbia’s Spear Named Academic All-America of the Year

29 Nov 2021 | 10:32 | Fencing

TOWSON, Md. — Columbia senior fencer Jeff Spear, named Academic All-America of the Year for the men’s at-large teams, highlighted the list of six Ivy League student-athletes named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Men’s and Women’s At-Large Teams, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Spear, Cornell’s Colin Greening (ice hockey) and Harvard’s J.P. O’Connor (wrestling) was named to the first team, Yale’s Tom Dignard (ice hockey), Brown’s Kent Holland (water polo) named to the third team for the men’s at-large teams while Cornell’s Maddie Pearsall (gymnastics) was a second-team selection on the women’s at-large teams.

An Evolutionary Biology of Human Species major with a 4.07 GPA, Spear is a two-time second team All-American selection who earned first team All-Ivy League honors three times. He received the 2010 NCAA Elite 88 award for fencing, which is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative G.P.A. participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 88 championships. The 2008 NCAA champion, Speer finished seventh at the national championship this year and took second place at the regional. A native of Wynantskill, N.Y., Spear completed his career with a 143-46 record in sabre. He is a two-time Intercollegiate Fencing Gold Medalist and was awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship this year. He is the first Lion to be awarded with an NCAA postgraduate scholarship since 2007. The Salutatorian of Columbia’s Class of 2010, Speer was also honored as the Class of 2010’s Scholar-Athlete. He is the first Columbia student-athlete to be named Academic All-America of the Year in any category. Spear now is one of ten Division I student-athletes eligible for the overall Academic All-American of the Year prize in the University Division.

Greening is the first men’s hockey player to ever earn a spot on the first team and is the second player to twice be named to one of the Academic All-America lists. Greening, who graduated in May with a 3.99 grade point average in applied economics and management, finished his four-year career ranked 37th all-time at Cornell in scoring, recording 55 goals and 118 total points while never missing a game over his career. He finished this season with 15 goals and 20 assists and was named both the ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year and the winner of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for men’s hockey. He is just the third player in Cornell men’s ice hockey history to earn Academic All-America honors, and just the second to do so twice in his career. He joins Mark McRae, who earned third-team honors in 2002 and second-team accolades in 2003, in earning a pair of mentions on the Academic All-America teams. Greening is also the first Cornell student-athlete to earn a spot on the highly competitive at-large first-team since Matt McMonagle and Mitch Belisle both did so in 2007.

O’Connor concluded his career with his best season, going a perfect 35-0 at the 157 weight class, as he captured the NCAA championship. O’Connor, who graduated from Harvard last month, tied the Harvard wrestling program’s all-time lead in victories with 132, as he posted an impressive 132-16 record during his time in Cambridge. O’Connor was also honored as the Ivy League Wrestler of the Year and was the recipient of the William J. Bingham Award as Harvard’s outstanding male athlete. A three-time All-American, O’Connor, a native of Oxford, N.Y., was tabbed the EIWA Wrestler of the Year this season, and was a finalist for the Hodge Trophy, presented to the nation’s Outstanding Wrestler of the Year. O’Connor, Harvard’s first freshman in program history to achieve All-America status, qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of his four seasons at Harvard and served as Harvard’s team captain for the past two seasons. A human and evolutionary biology concentrator, O’Connor earned three nods to the Academic All-Ivy League team and was a three-time National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Academic choice.

Dignard was an Academic All-Ivy League selection this past winter, and was an ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year finalist in 2008-09 and nominee in 2009-10. He will earn his fourth ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection when those picks are announced later this year. Dignard also was the recipient of the Yale men’s hockey team’s Edward M. Wright, M.D. Award this year as the team’s top scholar-athlete. Dignard was fourth in the NCAA in points per game among defensemen (six goals, 21 assists in 29 games) this past season. In addition to his All-America honors, he was also first-team All-New England and All-Ivy League. He was a second-team All-ECAC Hockey selection in each of the past two years, and was honorable mention All-Ivy in 2008-09. He also won the Yale’s men’s hockey team’s John Poinier Award as the Bulldogs’ top defenseman. Dignard finished his career with 19 goals and 57 assists in 115 games.

A four-year letter winner on the men’s water polo team and starting goalie, Holland played in 29 games and posted a 15-12 record this past year. He finished the season with 231 saves, while earning an 8.93 GAA and a .513 save percentage to go along with nine assists and 20 steals. Holland was instrumental in helping to lead Brown to the 2009 Northern Division Championship, Brown’s first since 1993. An ACWPC All-American in 2009, Holland also earned First Team All-Northern and Second Team All-Eastern this past fall. As the anchor of one of the top defensive units in the nation, Holland ranked 11th in the country with 9.43 saves-per-game in 2009. He also holds two school records; saves in a season (290 in 2008) and saves in a career (946). He has been equally successful out of the pool, earning “Excellent” Academic recognition by the CWPA in 2006, “Superior” recognition in 2007, and “Outstanding” recognition in both 2008 and 2009. Holland graduated in May with a degree in Commerce, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship and held a 3.83 GPA at the time of nomination.

Pearsall is a first-team academic all-district pick for the second straight year after earning USAG All-America honors on bars this past season. The team’s top scorer in the event and a three-year starter, she has the school’s third-highest all-around score in school history (38.600). An NCAA regional qualifier in 2008 when she was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year, she has captured six USAG All-America honors in her three year career. She was instrumental in the team’s first-ever USAG national title in 2009 when she finished in the top 10 in all five events, including a second-place finish on bars and in the all-around. She has also been a part of three consecutive Ivy Classic team champions. Pearsall is a member of the Dean’s List, an Academic All-Ivy pick and a member of the school’s 400 Club for posting a 4.0 semester grade point average. In the classroom, Pearsall has posted a 3.95 grade point average in Information Science, Systems and Technology.

The Men’s At-Large program for the Academic All-America includes the sports of fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, tennis and water polo while the Women’s At-Large program includes the sports of bowling, crew, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, skiing, tennis and water polo.