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Clay McEldowney '69 And Eric Pearson '87 Inducted Into EIWA Hall Of Fame

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 03/09/2013
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Chris Ayres (left) stands with EIWA Hall of Famers John Johnston, Clay McEldowney '69 and Eric Pearson '87
Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications

Fourteen Princeton wrestlers, including three this season, have placed at the EIWA Championships over the last four years. If not for the efforts of Clay McEldowney '69 and Eric Pearson '87, among many others, that may never have happened. McEldowney and Pearson were honored for their efforts Saturday by being inducted into the EIWA Hall of Fame.

McEldowney and Pearson were two of the four EIWA Hall of Fame inductees Saturday. Columbia's Andrew Barth and Cornell's Stephen Friedman were also both honored.

Historic Princeton wrestling coach, and EIWA Hall of Fame member, John Johnston presented the Hall of Fame plaques to both prior to the final session of the 2013 Championships.

"Princeton wrestling has meant a lot to a lot of alumni," McEldowney said. "We're the second-oldest continuously operating wrestling program, and we went through some bumps in the 1990s. Eric Pearson and I worked with the Friends of Princeton Wrestling. We had overwhelming support from alumni, and over the span of four years, we were able to succeed in having Harold Shapiro and his administration reverse the decision to terminate varsity wrestling.

"Now we are always working towards the future," McEldowney added. "We're at a point in the program's history where we have a lot to look forward to. We have young men who are working very hard, and we have the greatest coaching staff that Princeton wrestling has ever had."

"First of all, I'm very honored," Pearson said. "Clay and I are honored to accept this on the behalf of a lot of people who did a lot of work and made a lot of sacrifices. We are really proud to see Tiger wrestlers on the mat twenty years later.

"For me, personally, those four years were hard work, but they were well worth it," Pearson added. "The kids I coached during those four years were some of the finest people I have ever worked with in my life. And the kids that followed me were just as high caliber. We're really proud to see Princeton wrestlers still out on the mats. That's the real reward, seeing the kids still out there."

From their EIWA Hall of Fame bios:

Clay McEldowney, of Pittstown, N.J., captained the Princeton University freshman and 1969 varsity wrestling teams under coach John Johnston. Prior to Princeton, Clay won a National Prep School championship title at 148 pounds as co-captain for The Hill School.

In 1993, while serving as chairman of the Friends of Princeton Wrestling, which alumni formed in the early 1960s, McEldowney led the successful effort to restore varsity wrestling after the University announced its intention to discontinue it. As a result of this alumni effort, the Friends conducted a funding campaign to raise a $3 million endowment to ensure the continuation of the program, which this year completed its 108th continuous year of varsity wrestling competition, and subsequently to raise funds to renovate the Class of ’58 Wrestling Room.

Along with Eric Pearson, McEldowney was named Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Man of the Year in 1997. McEldowney is a founder of, and since 2001 has served with Pearson on the Board of Directors of, the Washington, DC-based American Sports Council, whose mission is to preserve and promote the student-athlete experience and which has been successful in helping save collegiate athletic programs. This past year, McEldowney was one of two recipients of WIN Magazine's Impact Award. He was cited for his work in preventing the discontinuation of collegiate wrestling and other "lesser priority" sports. He also serves on the executive board of the NJ Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Professionally, McEldowney is licensed professional engineer and land surveyor. He headed the consulting civil engineering firm Studer and McEldowney for 24 years and in 2009 retired as Vice-President of Hatch Mott MacDonald.

In 1993, Eric Pearson put his day job (a new business start-up) on hold to serve at minimal pay as full-time head coach of the Princeton University wrestling team. During his four-year tenure as coach, Friends of Princeton Wrestling prevailed over the University administration’s plan to drop the sport. In 1997, Eric’s wrestling team won the NWCA National Championship for highest GPA.

After this coaching stint, Eric proceeded to co-found and chair for the past 12 years the American Sports Council, the nation’s leading network of sports advocates devoted to saving traditionally male athletic programs and helping to reform the quota impact of Title IX. He is regularly quoted in the national news media regarding any Title IX issues. In 2002, Eric was one of two recipients of WIN Magazine's annual Impact Award for his efforts in reforming Title IX.

Eric wrestled for Princeton University from 1984-87 and was a Second Team All-Ivy selection. Prior to Princeton, Eric was a National Prep finalist wrestling for The Hill School. A member of a true wrestling family, Eric is the son of Max Pearson, a three-time Big Ten champion and 2-time NCAA runner-up in '57 and '58. Eric’s father and older brother, Mark, competed for both The Hill School and the University of Michigan. Mark is the current head wrestling coach at The Hill School.

Eric is a film producer and a founder of Silver Hammer Studios. He currently works and lives in Bangkok, Thailand.


 

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