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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s 22-9 Loss to Iowa

On rivalries, Daton Fix and more.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]


STILLWATER — Oklahoma State suffered its first and only loss of the season to No. 4 Iowa 22-9 on Sunday inside a sold-out Gallagher-Iba Arena. The second-ranked Cowboys finished the regular season 14-1 in duals before getting a week off and starting the postseason at the Big 12 Wrestling Championships on March 9-10 in Tulsa.

Here are five thoughts from OSU’s regular-season finale.

1. Rivalries Still Have Value

Even after a weekend of heartbreak to rivals in Gallagher-Iba Arena, a good rivalry still has to be appreciated in Stillwater. Even if that appreciation is disappearing throughout a new world of college sports.

GIA was full back-to-back days as OSU wrestled Iowa in front of a sold-out crowd Sunday and Bedlam for men’s basketball nearly filled up the venue the day before. The heartbreak of OSU losing both of those hits deeper, yes, but that’s also what makes a rivalry even better in sort of a sick way.

The 13,721 fans don’t fill GIA on Sunday if not for the matchup being deemed “The Greatest Rivalry in College Wrestling,” and the importance of the rivalry being stressed by both programs. Iowa State was in Stillwater last month, and though the Cyclones showed up as the fourth-best team in the country ahead of OSU, GIA wasn’t sold out and fans weren’t tailgating. In fact, a dual against a team barely hanging onto a top-25 ranking and losing record brought in more fans last week, but that was Bedlam.

There’s just something special about seeing a full arena and a large group of people caring not only so much about a particular team, but also being joined in hatred toward another team. The boos echoed in GIA when Iowa trotted out and even more boos reigned down every single time a Hawkeye wrestler was introduced. That type of passion puts a smile on your face, even if you’re sitting on an unbiased media row.

Even outside of the arena hours before the dual fans were clustered in thousands, many even tailgating for a wrestling dual.

“It’s what we have, right,” OSU coach John Smith said. “It grows your attendance … You do that with dual meets. You do that with great matches. You do that with attendance. That’s why I value [rivalries].”

So as dollar signs are becoming more valuable than traditions, rivalries are still invaluable, especially for a growing sport like wrestling, which thankfully for OSU is a sport that will continue Bedlam and “The Greatest Rivalry in College Wrestling” with no end in sight.

2. Was it Really an Upset?

Marshall actually made this point Sunday. Although the fourth-ranked team beat the second-ranked team, I’m not sure OSU’s loss should really be considered an upset.

Had Iowa thrown out No. 8 Caleb Rathjen at 149 pounds, the Hawkeyes would have been favored, based on individual rankings, in six of the 10 matches. Victor Voinovich, who was an NCAA qualifier for OSU last year, instead lost to Jordan Williams as an unranked wrestler. But even with OSU technically being favored at 149, it was still a 5-5 split.

Most major outlets that cover wrestling predicted the Hawkeyes to win this one. Smith himself even said earlier this week, that though his team was ranked higher just because it was unbeaten to that point, he assumed Iowa was the favorite going into the dual.

Yes, the Cowboys looked flat and were overall disappointing in their showing. That’s another sentiment Smith assured. But don’t feel that OSU necessarily dropped a dual it shouldn’t have Sunday.

3. But it Doesn’t Matter Anyway

This thought would be infuriating had the Cowboys finished the regular season undefeated, but since they just lost their last dual of the season, maybe it will actually be more comforting.

The 14-1 dual record OSU put together this season doesn’t really matter. There are invaluable metrics like the fact OSU set an average dual attendance record this season (5,871) and what the type of atmosphere GIA houses for duals does in getting recruits. But, in the end, outside of a Bedlam trophy last week, the Cowboys don’t get any hardware for any of their 14 wins.

The essential preseason is complete, as the real season is up next when postseason begins with the Big Wrestling Championships on March 9-10 in Tulsa. OSU beat every Big 12 contender in a dual this season and went undefeated in conference duals, but there’s no Big 12 champion crowned until the tournament ends. Two weeks after that will be the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Kansas City, where OSU’s national ranking won’t matter a bit.

The bright side of that is Smith assuring his team, especially the young guys, will learn from Sunday’s loss before the part that matters gets here.

4. 165 Pounds Seemed to Be the Difference

After both teams exchanged blows the first half of the dual, OSU won only one match after the intermission at the halfway point.

The first match after the break was No. 3 Izzak Olejnik losing to seventh-ranked Michael Caliendo 7-2. The Cowboys needed to not only notch an upset to win the dual, but also win every match they were favored. The same could have been said from Iowa’s perspective, and that’s exactly what the Hawkeyes did — and then some — with 165 pounds being the swing of the dual.

The Hawkeyes tallied the only bonus points of the day in the next match at 174 pounds before Plott got the last win for OSU. Iowa then won a match it was supposed to and notched a close upset.

OSU had a knack this season for doing just what needed to be done, but with a lot of needs Sunday, Iowa got everything it wanted.

5. You Can’t Help But Root for Daton Fix

Seven years later, Daton Fix wrestled his last match in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Sunday.

Fix beat Brody Teske 7-2 to finish his career undefeated inside GIA at 36-0. He savored the moment and even took a bow at the edge of the mat before stepping off the stage.

In a role I’m supposed to be unbiased and not care what unfolds in front me, it’s impossible to not want to witness Fix succeed this next month. He’s come up short three times in the NCAA finals in March.

A lot of what makes Fix a fan favorite has to do with loyalty in a time of college sports where that trait is nonexistent. He never ventured away from the university he grew up around, through seven years, injuries, three finals losses and even a pandemic.

Enjoy two more weeks of Daton Fix.

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