Keegan O’Toole crowned Big 12 wrestler of the year

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Freshman in wrestling at the University of Missouri Keegan O’Toole was voted Big 12 Wrestler of the Year by conference coaches, the league office announced Thursday. O’Toole is the first wrestler from Missouri to win the conference honor*.

In Big 12 action, O’Toole finished the regular season with an impeccable 8-0 record. He earned three more Big 12 championship wins to win the 165-pound class and finish undefeated. Against conference opponents, O’Toole had a 73% bonus percentage with eight bonus point wins.

At the NCAA Championships, O’Toole became the only undefeated wrestler in the conference and the only Big 12 wrestler to win an individual national championship. The only freshman to have made a final, he took the top step of the podium after winning a 6-5 match against defending Stanford champion Shane Griffith.

The five points O’Toole gave up against Griffith were the only points allowed throughout the tournament. He started the week with a pin of 52 seconds, the third fastest in the tournament behind Mizzou’s teammates Zach Elam (32 seconds) and Jeremy Kent (42 seconds). He followed that up with three straight shutouts, beating Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia 7-0, Ohio State’s Carson Kharchla 2-0 and advancing to the finals with a 4-0 semifinal win over Cam Amine of Michigan.

Now a two-time All-American, O’Toole also won MAC Freshman of the Year in 2021 after his true undefeated freshman season and first individual conference title.

O’Toole also received the Hammer Award from Amateur Wrestling News for winning the NCAA’s Most Competitive Weight Class and was named USA Wrestling’s Athlete of the Week on Tuesday. The Hartland, Wis. native is also a finalist for the Dan Hodge Award following his national championship in the 165-pound class.

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* The award was created in 2016 after Missouri left the conference for the MAC.

Robert J. King