Another week, another ranked matchup for the Cowboys.
Of the Oklahoma State wrestling team’s 15 dual matches this season, 10 of those will see the No. 3 Cowboys face off against a team ranked in the NCAA’s top-25 dual teams.
When No. 15 Iowa State comes to Gallagher-Iba Arena on Sunday, it will feature a lineup led by five ranked wrestlers. John Smith, OSU’s Coach, said he is preparing for the Cowboys to have one of their toughest tests yet.
“They got a balanced team, as balanced as anyone we’ve wrestled,” Smith said. “Pretty solid at every weight and that gives you a good dual meet team. It looks to be as competitive of a dual as we’ve been in.”
Over the previous few weeks the Cowboys have sustained multiple injuries to former All-American starters in Boo Lewallen (149), Chandler Rogers (165) and Preston Weigel (197).
Even with these injuries, Nick Piccininni (125) said a program such a OSU is built to overcome issues such as injuries.
“That’s what it is when you come to big schools,” Piccininni said. “You're going to have the talent. Things like (injuries) are going to happen, but that's why you come here. You really can become the best you can be when you come to a program like Oklahoma State."
While Boo Lewallen hasn’t wrestled since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18, Smith mentioned that there is a chance Lewallen could return for Sunday’s dual, but is unsure as to whether or not it would be too soon.
“It’s really a tough situation when you don’t know about the health of someone,” Smith said. “Wrestling is a little different than other sports, You gotta be healthy. If you got a bad shoulder you got a bad shoulder. You're not just gonna go out and whip everybody if you have a bad shoulder, but that's the uncertainty that we have.
Daton Fix came into this season with a lot of expectations for the Cowboys, and with him wrestling at 133, which is arguably the deepest of any weight class in the country, he has faced multiple highly-ranked wrestlers up to this point.
Sunday will be no different. He will face ISU’s Austin Gomez, who is currently No. 9. This will be a rematch of the two wrestlers' 6-3 decision from the Southern Scuffle that tilted in favor of Fix.
Not only will Fix have his first rematch of his college career, but he will also be coming off of his first collegiate loss, suffered in his last match against Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi, 3-1.
Piccininni said he is fully confident that his teammate has what it takes to bounce back.
“You know I think he is mature,” Piccininni said. “Daton Fix is Daton Fix, and I’m not worried about him whatsoever. I think it was college wrestling. He fell into the tactics of another wrestler, and it won’t happen again. He’s not the kind of guy to just lay down after something like that.
"There’s a fire that’s lit now. Watch out.”