Although Penn State hasn’t yet updated its roster for the 2019-20 wrestling season, another piece of the puzzle became clear Tuesday.
Graduate transfer Kyle Conel has been cleared by the NCAA and is “good to go” to wrestle for the Nittany Lions this season, a Penn State wrestling spokesperson confirmed. Conel, who placed third at the 2018 NCAA wrestling championships for Kent State, is enrolled in Penn State’s management and organizational leadership program — an accelerated graduate degree in the Smeal College of Business.
According to a tweet from Smeal’s graduate program on Tuesday, Conel is fitting right in and making a smooth transition from undergrad to graduate-level classes. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Kent State.
“This is a lot different from computer science,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s a breath of fresh air to be able to work with people and be a part of the class instead of just watching.”
Conel is expected to compete at 197 pounds, as an option for replacing three-time national champ and Hodge Trophy winner Bo Nickal, who graduated in the spring.
The Ashtabula, Ohio, native announced his decision to transfer to Penn State and apply for a sixth year of eligibility in March, after being granted partial release from Kent State and entering the transfer portal in February. Conel missed the majority of the 2018-19 season due to injury, posting a 2-0 record.
“From all the schools that were recruiting me, it’s one of the closest to home,” Conel told the CDT in March. “And with the coaches and the partners I’ll have, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
After Conel made the decision to transfer, 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 eye-opening for Conel.
“That was crazy because it was a home match and I had never been in a dual like that,” Conel said in March. “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.”
Before even donning a Penn State singlet, Conel has already endeared himself to Penn State fans. By upsetting Ohio State’s No. 1 Kollin Moore not just once — but twice — as an unseeded wrestler at the 2018 NCAAs, he helped the Nittany Lions edge the Buckeyes for the team title.
Penn State’s 2019-20 season kicks off Nov. 10 against Navy at Rec Hall.