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This Cowboy’s hat: Cowboy Challenge Tournament champions receive unique award

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Fix celebrates

Daton Fix poses with the championship cowboy hat and plate after winning the 133-pound division of the Cowboy Challenge Tournament quarterfinal in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Feb. 14, 2021. Photo Courtesy: Bruce Waterfield/ OSU Athletics

Travis Wittlake raised his arm after defeating West Virginia’s Peyton Hall.

Wittlake jogged off the mat and was handed a cowboy hat for his Cowboy Challenge Tournament title.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “It’s a fitting award for the Cowboy Challenge Tournament.”

The idea of an unconventional award in an unusual time was born in recruiting coordinator Tyler Caldwell’s office.

“Well, we were just sitting in my office, going over the brackets and preparing for the tournament,” Caldwell said. “We all looked at each other and agreed on cowboy hats.”

The idea was created by coach John Smith.

“I came up with the idea,” said coach John Smith. “I normally wear a cowboy hat during the winter.”

The coaching staff was inspired by the 2019 U.S. Open in Las Vegas — an event that featured cowboy hats.

A day later, Caldwell and Cowboy Regional Training Center coach Derek Fix, drove to Cavender’s and loaded up a truck full of Cavender’s branded felt hats.

In fact, Caldwell still needs to return eight. Wittlake enjoys the hat, but he’s searching for a different type of trophy in the coming weeks.

“It’s the most unique first-place prize I’ve won,” he said.

sports.ed@ocolly.com