The NCAA Wrestling Championships came down to Big Ten rivals Penn State and Minnesota on Saturday night.
Each team had two wrestlers competing in the championship finals, and the Golden Gophers held a 2.5-point lead when the round started.
When it was time for the titles to be won, Penn State stepped up. David Taylor (165 pounds) and Ed Ruth (184 pounds) won individual titles for the Nittany Lions to bring their team total to 109.5 points, while Minnesota went 0-2 in the round and finished with 104 points.
Both teams finished with seven All-Americans, but Penn State wrestlers went 7-0 in the medal matches on Saturday to narrowly win a fourth-straight national title. Penn State is only the third program in history to win four straight, joining Iowa and Oklahoma State.
“Our kids really did a fantastic job today,” said Penn State coach Cael Sanderson. “We really had our hands full with Minnesota. All of our All-Americans won their last match and that’s a big deal. It makes it easier as a coach when your guys win their last match. It feels good that these guys can go out with a win and we’ve got to enjoy it because it doesn’t happen very often.”
None of the Nittany Lion All-Americans were more appreciated by the team than James English.
English, who wasn’t even a starter less than a month ago, went 5-2 over the three-day tournament and defeated former Oklahoma national champion Kendric Maple in the seventh-place match at 149 pounds.
Taylor addressed the crowd after Penn State received its trophy and specifically gave English credit for being the key to the title.
“A big shout out to James English,” Talyor said. “That’s the reason we were able to do this.”