Central York High School graduate James English capped off his collegiate career Saturday by winning the seventh-place match of the 149-pound bracket at the NCAA Division I championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.
English, a sixth-year senior at Penn State who has had his collegiate career derailed by numerous injuries, defeated Oklahoma senior and 2013 141-pound NCAA champ Kendric Maple on Saturday afternoon, 2-1, in overtime in the seventh-place match.
English also attained All-American status in his final time competing on the college mat.
"It feels great to be able to go out and put points on for the team," English said to reporters after the match. "It's great to go out and beat a national champ. I don't think anyone thought I could do that except me. It was great to go out with a win in my last match ever. I'm just glad I never stopped fighting. After six years I was able to make it here."
The former Panthers' grappler qualified for the NCAA championships for the first time in his career by placing fifth at the Big Ten tournament two weeks ago.
Entering the NCAA 149-pound bracket unseeded, English started off strong in the tourney Thursday with a 5-4 decision over No. 12 seed Dylan Cottrell of Appalachian State in the opening round. In the next round Thursday night, English was leading by a point in the final period before giving up a reversal to Big Ten champ Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern in the final 20 seconds, losing the bout, 4-3.
English then responded in the consolation bracket by winning his next three matches before getting pinned in 4:52 by No. 8 seed David Habat of Edinboro, who went on to finish fourth.
"That sucked. That definitely sucked," English said when speaking to reporters Saturday. "I was up 3-0 on him. I wanted to come back and finish third (after losing Thursday). You can't dwell on it. It's not going to do you any good. I had to make the best of whatever situation I had. If there's one word to describe how I wrestled out there, it's just fight the whole way through."
English scored an escape in the overtime period against Maple and rode Maple out for the remaining duration of the bout to get the win. He went 5-2 in his first trip to the NCAA Championships and ends his Nittany Lion career as an All-American with an 18-7 record.
"I've been thinking about it for years. That's what I wanted and that's what I've been working for. I set my goals. This is what my goals were. It's great to be able to accomplish that. Although I never reached my highest goal I'm still an All-American, which is awesome."