From unseeded to all-American: Conel’s historic pin leads Flashes at NCAA Championships

Kent State wrestler Kyle Conel celebrates after pinning No. 1 seed Kollin Moore of Ohio State at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena on March 16, 2018. Conel’s victory earned him a spot in the Flashes’ record books as the only unseeded all-American in school history.

Kayla Proctor

The Kent State wrestling team set goals to come to Cleveland to take names and an all-American title, and that’s exactly what they did Friday during the second day of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Unseeded Kyle Conel (197 pounds) pinned the No. 1 seed in his weight class, Kollin Moore from Ohio State, making Conel the first unseeded all-American in Flashes history.

From being one of two unseeded wrestlers in the semifinals to making it to the NCAA Championships after taking a year off of wrestling and pinning the no. 1 Ohio State wrestler in a minute and 30 seconds, Conel has made a name for himself at the tournament.

“I came up with a double under hook, and I feel like (Moore) wasn’t a guy who wants to go upper body, and I just jacked it up, and when I locked that up, I felt it,” Conel said.  “I threw it, and I wasn’t going to let go because I wanted that pin, so I just did what I had to do. I took care of business and took care of it fast. I’ve been visualizing this for the past few days, just pinning him.”

On Thursday, Conel said he believed he could beat anyone, and he did nothing but prove himself right in the semifinals.

“I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to let anyone take this from me,” Conel said. “I just want to do the best that I can for Kent State, and I feel like I’m doing that right now.”

Conel lost his second match of the day to No. 4 seed Michael Macchiavello from NC State by a fall over.

“I’m glad he was in this position to be an all-American,” Kent State coach Jim Andrassy said.  “We hope he will come back and get third tomorrow. That’s the best we can hope for right now.”

Anthony Tutolo (133) wrestled West Virginia’s Matthew Schmitt for his first wrestleback match and lost in the last four seconds of overtime due to a pin and second victory, ending Tutolo’s season.

“(Anthony) still has a whole other year to wrestle, and if he stays focused he can come back here next year, and that would be redemption,” Andrassy said.  “He got a taste of it a little bit. He got to the second day, which is always important.”

Stephen Suglio (285) lost in his last match against Purdue’s Shawn Streck by a major decision in what was the last match of Suglio’s career at Kent State.

“He was facing a bigger guy, and it was a tough match,” Andrassy said. “He ended his career at the national tournament, which is a great thing.”

Conel will wrestle for third place at best tomorrow, but left today’s sessions as an all-American.

The NCAA Wrestling Championship will continue for its third and final day beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Kayla Proctor is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].