Penn State Wrestling

Potential transfer Kyle Conel: Wrestling for Penn State would be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity

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Just days before the NCAA Wrestling Championships, the tournament that last year made him a household name, All-American wrestler Kyle Conel tweeted Monday that he’s intending to finish up his college career at Penn State next season — if he can get another year of eligibility.

“If I’m able to get a medical redshirt for next season, I will be attending Penn State University to pursue a masters and complete my final year of eligibility,” his tweet read.

The fifth-year senior, who finished third at last year’s NCAAs and was known as the Cinderella of the tournament, announced in February that he was granted partial release from Kent State and was entering the transfer portal to “weigh his options.” Conel went 2-0 this season before sustaining an injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season, including the dual against Penn State on Nov. 11.

The decision to transfer to Penn State, Conel told the Centre Daily Times on Monday afternoon, was largely based upon his desire to continue wrestling while pursuing the graduate degree of his choice — management and organizational leadership, an accelerated master’s program in Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.

Being close to his home of Ashtabula, Ohio, and the fact that his family approved, helped seal the decision.

“From all the schools that were recruiting me, it’s one of the closest to home,” Conel said. “And with the coaches and the partners I’ll have, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Speculation that Conel might be interested in Penn State was stoked when he was spotted at the Penn State vs. Michigan State dual on Feb. 15, when he came to State College for his visit. Watching the Nittany Lions scrap in front of a sold-out arena in a regular-season dual was eyeo-pening to Conel

“That was crazy because it was a home match and I had never been in a dual like that,” Conel said. “Coming from Kent, we had a couple big duals, but nothing like that. That’s just their ‘every time.’ They pretty much always sell out. It was just very lively.”

Conel already endeared himself to Penn State fans last year when he, as an unseeded wrestler, pinned Ohio State’s No. 1 Kollin Moore in the 197-pound quarterfinals at the 2018 NCAAs, then beat him again for third place — helping to keep the Nittany Lions alive in the close team race with the Buckeyes.

If Conel’s sixth year is granted, he’d be a good candidate to replace outgoing senior Bo Nickal at 197 pounds. The Nittany Lions also are set to have three-time National Preps champ Micheal Beard, of Malvern Prep, join the team as a true freshman at 197 next season. After graduating from high school last year, Beard has spent this past season training with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club and competing unattached in open tournaments.

In addition to Conel, fellow fifth-year seniors Anthony Cassar (heavyweight) and Shakur Rasheed (184) are also applying for sixth years of eligibility for Penn State.

Conel said he did not know when he might find out whether his sixth year is granted. At media availability Tuesday, Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson also could not give a definitive answer on when the decision for either of those three will be announced but said it could be “fairly soon.”