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OSU Wrestling: Why Daton Fix Should Never Be a Villain

‘I’m a person just like everybody else.’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the midst of his fourth 133-pound NCAA finals match, Daton Fix stood in front of his coaches and trainer in his corner as they tried to stop his right eyebrow from bleeding. As Fix anticipated to get back out there and continue building on a 2-0 lead, most of the college wrestling fans at T-Mobile Center booed and hollered, “Stalling” at the Oklahoma State wrestler.

Fix ultimately lost the match 5-3, concluding his college wrestling career 0-4 in NCAA finals matches after being at OSU for seven years. When it ended, he congratulated opponent Vito Arijau, who had just claimed back-to-back titles, then tossed his headgear toward his corner before jogging through the tunnel and out of the arena.

“People probably didn’t believe that I was actually bleeding if you would have heard them,” Fix said later that night with stitches in his brow.

Fix was booed throughout his fifth and final NCAA Wrestling Championships. It seemed to have started with a section of Iowa fans. Hawkeye fans apparently still have a grudge from when Fix beat No. 3 Austin DeSanto 2-0 in a dual win in 2019 — Fix’s redshirt-freshman season.

Fix’s quarterfinal match against Iowa State’s Evan Frost went to tiebreakers before Fix finally won 2-1 without scoring a takedown. The win advanced Fix to the semis for the fifth time and made him the first five-time All-American in OSU history.

That section of Iowa fans booed most of the match, and by the end of it, much of the arena was screaming for stalling against Fix. That seemed to have been the moment when wrestling fans decided Daton Fix was the villain of college wrestling.

In the semis against Michigan’s Dylan Ragusin, the boos were loud enough to be heard on television. Fix ultimately won 3-2 in tiebreakers, again without scoring a takedown. Ragusin took a 3-1 lead in tiebreakers after a flurry of events ended with getting a point for stalling and an escape. But the OSU corner challenged the call, and after review, the stalling point was overturned, dropping Ragusin’s lead to 2-1. The score was tied in the next tiebreaker after Fix was awarded a point for locked hands. That call was also reviewed but confirmed with nine seconds left in the match. Fix had more riding time so won 3-2.

When OSU challenged the stalling call, the crowd booed. When the call was overturned, they booed louder. They yelled for stalling every takedown attempt Fix avoided. There were even boos as Fix had his hand raised to advance to the finals for the fourth time.

“I don’t know,” Fix said. “They don’t like that I’m old. But the guy I wrestled in the finals, we graduated [high school] the same year. They think I’m stalling. The guy in the quarterfinals, I’m in on his leg 10 times. Was in on the guy in the semifinals more shots than he was in on me. I think you could have called me for stalling both the other two matches than the one tonight. It’s just an opinion on the ref, and I can’t leave it in the official’s hands.”

A few hours after failing for the fourth time in the NCAA finals and ending his college career, Fix stood in the bowels of T-Mobile Center surrounded by reporters. He was not required to talk to media — only the champions are. In fact, we as media did not expect to get to interview Fix.

Nonetheless, even with fresh stitches above a swollen right eye and still processing a life after college wrestling, Fix was honest and answered every question asked about the loss and future for over five minutes.

There was the gut-wrenching quote when Fix was first asked about his last match and he punctuated his answer, “Just didn’t do enough to win. Same old story.”

Failure should prove Daton Fix is human. He’s more human than wrestler. And from someone who has covered him from an undefeated four-time state champion at Charles Page High School, to becoming the first five-time All-American in OSU history, Daton Fix is a better human than wrestler.

“Just praying for them,” Fix responded about being booed. “It’s not a fun life whenever you’re living with a bunch of hate in your heart. I’m a person just like everybody else. And some people need to realize that athletes, they’re people, too. We put a lot on the line every time we step out there. It takes a lot to step out there — a lot of vulnerability. It’s just me out there and there’s thousands of people in the stands. I’m not gonna say that it didn’t affect my performance at all.

“I was just gonna kind of accept that I was villain for the week. Who knows, I might be the villain for a long time by the sound of it. But it is what it is. I’m just grateful that I’m here. I get to wrestle. The sun’s gonna come up tomorrow, and I’m just gonna thank God for it. Get back to work.”

Daton Fix Interview

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