Penn State Wrestling Grad Transfer Kyle Conel Grateful For ‘Experience Of A Lifetime’
Coming into his final season of eligibility at Penn State, graduate transfer Kyle Conel is no stranger to what it means to be a Penn Stater wrestler: beating Ohio State.
While competing for Kent State in the 2018 NCAA wrestling tournament, an unranked Conel completed a major upset against Ohio State’s top-seeded Kollin Moore twice in order to secure a third-place finish in the 197-pound weight class.
After sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury last fall and transferring to Penn State this summer, Conel can see the irony.
“I thought about that when I got in the transfer portal, like, ‘What if I went to Penn State?’ Because of what happened at nationals,” Conel said. “A ton of Penn State fans came up to me and they really accepted me and were obviously happy because of what happened. It’s nice to be here and have a year in Happy Valley.”
Now that he’s here, though, the Ohio native is focusing on keeping everything in perspective. He has said that while sports are important to him, they’re not the most important thing in his life, because he knows his wrestling career isn’t going to last forever.
“Every day, I put it in perspective that I get to be a Division I athlete,” he said. “There’s about 0.9 percent of wrestlers that get to do that, and to be a Division I athlete who wrestles at one of the greatest programs in the country, that’s something that many, many people dream about. It’s something that I’m so thankful and grateful that I get to do.”
Conel appreciates everything that has been given to him and understands the sacrifices that were made.
After being given the all-clear by the NCAA to wrestle in the upcoming 2019-2020 season, Conel will compete against freshman Michael Beard for the opportunity to replace three-time national champion Bo Nickal in this year’s lineup. However, he isn’t letting the pressure get to him.
“I’m gonna be me and that’s it,” he said. “There are a lot of great wrestlers who have been through this program and who are still in this program right now, and the only thing that I can control is myself and how I wrestle and how I carry myself. That’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Part of that is, as the start of the new season creeps closer, making staying relaxed and competing the best that he can priorities. Conel knows that his coaches and teammates have his back and will push him to wrestle at the highest level.
“I want to become the best wrestler that I can be, and I truly believe that being in this room and working with these coaches, I’ll be able to do that,” he said. “The transition has been really easy. You have a bunch of people who really care about you, and care about who you are as a person, and there’s no pressure.”
With all of the support from Cael’s program and Penn State’s fans, along with his own positive mental attitude, Conel is sure to have success in his last season of eligibility with Penn State and have fun while doing so.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said with a smile.
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