The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

March 15, 2013

Enter, the Dragon!

After a 46-1 season that saw him finish as a D-I state runner-up, Lakeside junior Kyle Conel is anything but satisfied

Long before he was chasing perfection, Lakeside wrestler Kyle Conel learned what it was like to lose and lose a lot. The son of Luetta Miller and Otis Conel III didn’t get his hand raised after a single match as a seventh grader.

Conel learned a bit from that experience.

“My mom told me to never quit,” Conel said. “She pushed me. She made me finish the season in seventh grade and wrestle again in eighth grade. I loved wrestling after that.”

To this day, that single season plays a part in the way Conel, now a junior, approaches the sport.

“Yeah (it motivates me),” he said. “I have a hard time losing. I hate losing. I go into every match knowing I’m going to win.

“A lot of (my success this season) was because it was embarrassing to lose every match (in seventh grade). I don’t want to feel that again.”

“He didn’t want to feel that way again,” Lakeside coach Jerry Brady said. “He hasn’t forgotten that feeling. He has a burning desire not to lose. That allows him to be one of the most coachable kids to be around.”

Don’t be mistaken, however. Hatred of losing isn’t all that drives Conel.

“That’s part of it,” he said. “But it’s not the only thing. It’s really just desire – desire to win. I just want to make my mark.

“I want to be the best wrestler to ever come out of this area. (To do that), I need to win a state championship. It’s going to take a lot more work on technique and more mat time over the summer. (It’s going to take) extra work whenever I can get it.”

That said, Conel has a good start on making that mark. He just completed one of the finest seasons in

Ashtabula County history, making a run at perfection. In going 46-1 and finishing as the Division I state runner-up at 195 pounds, Conel is the Star Beacon Ashtabula County Wrestler of the Year.

“Overall, it was a great season,” Conel said. “Obviously, it was the best season I ever had. It felt pretty great, looking back on it.”

While teams and athletes are riding a long hot streak or chasing perfection the way Conel was all season, it’s tough to enjoy the ride because pressure mounts with each step forward. Instead of enjoying the latest victory, Conel was often looking ahead to the next competition. But he take the time to enjoy the ride, at least a little.

“I tried to enjoy whatever happened,” he said. “But I got caught up in the next match and forgot about trying to enjoy it.”

Forever superstitious, athletes don’t usually like to talk about streaks. Baseball’s unwritten rule is that you never talk about a no-hitter until the final out is recorded.

Conel, however, had no such hangups.

“I love talking about it,” he said. “I never get tired of it.”

Conel’s lone loss came to Massillon Perry’s Jojo Tayse in the state championship match. It wasn’t as devastating a loss as one might think.

“That goes back to not having highs that are too high and lows that are too low,” Brady said. “He fell a little short, but he gave it all he had.”

Even during that rough seventh-grade season, Brady saw something in Conel.

“He’s one of the most coachable kids,” Brady said. “When I met him, I looked at this kid and he was physically amazing. I said, ‘My God, he’s got all the tools. What’s missing?’ He won 48 matches in junior high before he lost. All we did was drill basic wrestling. He uses the same four basic moves he had then.”

Conel made the leap from very good grappler as a sophomore to being one of the best in the state with some offseason adjustments to his style.

“It was mostly because in the offseason I learned a couple new moves,” Conel said. “Before, I didn’t use any real moves on offense. My season ended last year because I didn’t have an offense.

“Having an offense this year made it easier for me.”

Conel expanded that offensive repertoire, but also decided he was going to be the one to initiate the action.

“I try to use a single leg takedown, an ankle pick and an arm drag,” he said. “Sometimes, I try and get (my opponent) out of position (before taking a shot) or I start with an underhook and go for the single.

“A lot of it was being aggressive. It’s kind of an intimidation factor over your opponent. If you go out aggressive, you know you’re going to win the match. I was a lot more confident. It makes things easier to be more confident. Jerry helped me with that. He got my confidence up.”

It was Brady who pushed Conel to become more offensive.

“Jerry pushed for me to increase my offense,” Conel said. “That was the key. That was the key to my season.”

Conel has a taylor-made workout partner right in his own house in brother Otis, and made good use of him every day in the wrestling room.

“We helped each other a lot,” Conel said. “A lot of times, he would beat me in the wrestling room. He pushed me a lot. We didn’t mess around. He helped me with my conditioning and my confidence in my moves, too. He’s a good wrestler, too, and I knew I could hit a move on him, I could hit it on anybody.”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula. Reach him at bettinger@starbeacon.com.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • BB1 Walk on the wild side

    Going into the bottom of the third inning Tuesday, things were looking pretty good for the Madison Blue Streaks at Edgewood.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rick Peck A Rich Kelly column: Rick Peck... his legacy born at CLA

    We all leave a legacy of our persona as we pass from this world to whatever the future holds for us.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • BB2 Scholastic Statistics:

    BASEBALL
    NON-CONFERENCE
    Edgewood 14, Madison 3
    at Higgins Field, Edgewood

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area High School Softball Statistical Leaders:

    INDIVIDUAL BATTING (minimum 15 at-bats)
    PLAYER    SCHOOL    AVG    OB%    SLG%    AB    R    H    2B    3B    HR    RBI    SB
    Brittany Baitt    Riverside    .645    .667    .806    31    11    20    3    1    0    8    0
    Cassidy DiFranco    Riverside    .588    .632    .647    17    7    10    1    0    0    0    0
    Alyssa Chadwick    Conneaut    .563    .630    .625    32    12    18    2    1    0    6    5
    Alyssa Irons    Jefferson    .526    .526    .632    19    5    10    0    1    0    9    2

    April 23, 2014

  • Scholastic Schedule:

    WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23
    Baseball

    Niles McKinley at Lakeside (4:30)
    Bloomfield at Conneaut (4:30)
    Maplewood at Grand Valley (4:30)
    Riverside at Edgewood (4:30)
    PV at Mathews (4:30)
    Orange at Perry (4:30)

    April 23, 2014

  • Tribe Royals crown Wahoos to split first two games

    The concerns about Indians starter Danny Salazar continue to grow.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Edgewood SB Warriors whack Struthers

    Edgewood softball coach Steve Cunha’s main focus for the season centers on his team playing well in the All-American conference. In their inaugural season as part of the AAC, the Warriors continued their strong start by defeating visiting Struthers, 8-2, on Monday afternoon.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Falcons go the extra Niles

    Jefferson coach Scott Barber knows good things usually happen when you put the ball in play and put pressure on the opposing team’s defense.

    April 22, 2014

  • Emotional rescue

    Three Ashtabula area runners joined 36,000 of their closest friends Monday during the 118th rendition of the Boston Marathon.

    April 22, 2014

  • Spartans stymied

    Ursuline pitcher Makayla Shore freely admitted she didn’t quite have her best stuff against Conneaut on Monday at Skippon Park. Despite that fact, the hurler tossed a no-hitter to beat the Spartans, 10-0.

    April 22, 2014

Sports Week in Review April 14 to 19
Sports Week in Review April 7-12
Spring Sports Practice in Ashtabula County
2014 AP BB Tourney Top 25
2014 AP BB Tourney Scoreboard
2014 AP BB Tourney News
2014 AP BB Tourney Photos
Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic
Girls Regional Basketball Action
Week of Champions
Sports Week in Review February 21, 22
Grand Valley at Edgewood Boys Basketball
Sports Week in Review Feb. 3 to 8
Sports Week in Review January 30 to Feb. 1
Sports Week in Review January 13-18
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video