Daton Fix drew on his past run-ins with Iowa’s Austin DeSanto with a trip to the finals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on the line.
Fix anticipated the Hawkeye coming out like a bull in a china shop and rode the wave of energy to the only offensive points in a 3-2 decision.
“People are going to bite, and they’re going to headbutt and do whatever they have to do to beat me,” Fix said. “But, if at the end of the day I get my hand raised, that’s all that matters.”
With DeSanto constantly pushing the tempo and trying to drive Fix to the edge of the mat, the Cowboy wrestler flipped the script and turned a shot by DeSanto in a takedown of his own in the first period.
Utilizing a scramble to score differed from their dual in 2019 inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. In that match, Fix rode the bull into submission, with a third-period ride-out for a 2-0 decision.
“I beat him in a different way this time,” Fix said. “I scored a takedown. Last time I wrestled him, I had to ride out a whole period to win.”
Fix finds himself back in the championship match at 133 pounds, which did not end the way he would have liked two years ago.
The past few weeks, the Sand Springs native has talked a lot about finishing runner-up at the 2019 championships – which was steeped in controversy – and now he’s back there after an Olympic redshirt year.
But Fix feels he’s coming into this final with a different feeling.
After having to serve a one-year USADA suspension for unknowingly having a banned substance in his system – which led to a worry by Fix about how others spoke about the former Junior World Champion – he came out explosive in his own right this season.
The one-point decision against DeSanto is only the second decision in 13 matches this season, and the first match this tournament he did not earn a bonus point.
Leading up to the semifinal match, he had pinned a pair of wrestlers – after nearly pinning a wrestler in the first round Thursday – and eclipsed the two bonus-point victories he collected at the NCAA tournament in 2019.
“There for a while, I felt I wasn’t wrestling with that chip on my shoulder,” Fix said. “Coming up from high school, I always wrestled with a little bit of an edge, and I feel like I lost that for a little bit.
“The wrestler I am now from where I was two years ago, I definitely have a chip on my shoulder and that’s a good think. I need to have a little bit of an attitude when on walk on the mat.”
He will need to keep that edge for the final as he faces his toughest competition in fellow undefeated Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State. Bravo-Young, who has also competed on the international level, beat No. 3-seeded Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech by 5-3 decision in the other semifinal match.
Fix won’t be alone on the championship stage.
True freshman AJ Ferrari beat No. 1-seeded Myles Amine, a fifth-year senior, by 5-1 decision to reach the title match at 197 pounds in his first NCAA tournament.
“People have always slept on me, I felt like, a little bit,” Ferrari said. “But being the No. 1 (recruit) in the country has high expectations. Those people aren’t going to affect my thoughts. It didn’t matter what seed I came in this year at the tournament.”
Oklahoma State senior Boo Lewallen was unable to reach his first national finals in his first year with the Cowboys.
The Yukon native was pinned in the second period by top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State in their semifinal match at 149 pounds. Lewallen drops to the consolation bracket, where he can finish as high as third but no lower than sixth.
Also earning All-American status for the Cowboys by way of wrestling back through consolations was Wyatt Sheets – who wasn’t originally in the tournament, but got a bid after a wrestler withdrew – along with Travis Wittlake and Dakota Geer.
Heavyweight Austin Harris, the No. 29 seed, came up one win shy of being an All-American after wins over the Nos. 3 and 11 seeds in the consolations. His tournament came to an end with a 13-5 major decision by Penn State’s Greg Kerkvliet, the ninth seed.