Jake English considers himself and his teammates on Messiah's wrestling team to be different from others.
But not because they feel like brothers. Or often meet in Bible study. Or go to church every Sunday. Or compete with every ounce of effort.
"We do a lot of weird things on campus," English said. "A lot of people look at us as the weird guys. They can see there's something different about us."
Then English, a Central York High School graduate, gives an example.
"Last year we had a day where we all dressed up as Pokemon characters and went to class," he said. "It was during the spring semester. We were bored and wanted something to do."
Perhaps it's that kind of camaraderie that's helped the Falcons (4-1) achieve their No. 22 NCAA Division III ranking. Either way, English and two other York County athletes on the roster have played a part in Messiah's impressive season.
English (157 pounds) is currently 11-7, while New Oxford grad Kyle Dayhoff (165) is 7-7 and York Suburban grad Ricardo Plummer (174) is 14-3.
"It's pretty cool," English said of the three former York-Adams League wrestlers competing together. "It's pretty interesting. I didn't even know Rico (Plummer) until I came to Messiah and found out he only lives 10 minutes away from me (in York)."
Captain: While Plummer, a junior, isn't officially ranked in the top 10 174-pound rankings by d3wrestle.com, the website still lists him on the fringe of being one of the better 174-pounders in D-III. He's done a good job of living up to his own billing to "lead by example" as one of the team captains this season.
After splitting their two head-to-head meetings in dual meets back in high school, Dayhoff and English have grown to become best friends by rooming together on campus as freshmen. The sophomores have also adjusted to college competition after seeing limited varsity action last year.
English has a bit of an advantage learning from his older brother, James, who is currently the starting 149-pounder for Penn State, the top-ranked team in NCAA Division I.
"We worked out with each other over Christmas break," Jake English said. "In the summer time I worked out with him a little up there (at State College). But it's been tough seeing each other much during the season."
Rematch?: Messiah might get a chance to avenge its lone 22-19 loss to York College (7-3) from last month when the Spartans and Falcons compete at the upcoming Budd Whitehill Duals at Lycoming College on Jan. 11. York is ranked No. 21.
"I think we should have really beat York," Dayhoff said. "There's no doubt about that."
The Falcons also have to live up the program's high expectations coming off a 16-6 season a year ago.
"Every match that we wrestle the other team is gonna know we wrestled hard against them," English said. "And they're gonna be hurting afterward."
It would be just another description for Messiah's group of "weird" wrestlers.
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.